What is an implant?
An implant is a method of giving back a tooth root. It looks like a large screw and is made of titanium, a metal that almost everyone tolerates well.
How are implants used?
An implant can be used to replace a single tooth. In the photo you can see that it acts like a new root for the tooth that’s been lost. A crown is then placed on top of the implant.
Implants can also be used to hold a fixed bridge (one or more fake teeth). A fixed bridge is used when one or more teeth are missing; implants can be placed on either side of a space where teeth are missing or have been replaced. A three-tooth bridge, for example, covers three missing teeth, including the implants, and is cemented in place. The photo to the left shows a bridge on the bottom teeth.
Implants can anchor a denture. In the example at left, four implants are placed on this woman’s upper arch (lower left photo); the inside of the denture has small ‘o ring’ attachments (upper left); the outside of the denture looks like any other denture (upper right). The bridge gives this woman a beautiful smile and the denture fits solidly on the implants rather than ‘floating’ on her gums alone (lower right).
No. The patient is numb when implants are placed, and any discomfort afterward can be handled with minor painkillers.
The best time to place an implant is soon after a short healing time after an extraction. The bone in the tooth site will recede (pull back) after an extraction, so implants are most successful when placed within a year of an extraction.
Often, yes, but sometimes a large bone graft is needed to make an implant successful. Doing an implant in a timely way can prevent the need for large bone grafts.
Like most things worthwhile in life, there is a cost to implants. How much is it worth to have a nice smile, to be able to eat well, and to have overall good health?
BEWARE of claims that implants can be placed and restored quickly. Once an implant is placed, the patient’s bone must grow into it. If this step is rushed, the implant will not stay in the bone well and can be lost. Usually, placing implants is a multi-step process that takes time.
No, we have ways to replace teeth so that you can look good during the implant process.