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Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants? What You Should Know

Dental implants are prosthetic devices that can serve you for many years. Here’s a quick guide to dental implants and how they work.

If you have lost teeth because of injury or periodontal disease, you may be an excellent candidate for dental implants. While nothing can take the place of excellent oral hygiene, replacing lost teeth is a terrific way to improve the look and function of your teeth. With proper care you can maintain a healthy smile, but if you have lost teeth you will need to replace them with prosthetics. Tooth loss leads to other oral health problems as well as poor nutrition. Without the proper mouth structure, eating is more difficult. Tooth problems can actually lead to malnutrition in some cases.

Dental implants are essentially prosthetic devices, like an artificial leg or arm. However, prosthetic teeth look just like the real thing and work so similarly that you may not ever notice a difference between them and your real teeth. Unlike artificial limbs, you will not have to learn to use the new teeth, and there is no out of the ordinarily care necessary. Since this type of dentistry is more specialized than general dentistry, the dentist must have additional training in prosthetic or cosmetic dentistry to provide this type of care.

An implant is basically an artificial tooth root, usually made of titanium, upon which an artificial tooth (or crown) is placed. The artificial root is placed in the mouth and then given time to integrate into the jawbone. This process is called Osseointegration. It usually takes three to six months for the artificial root to anchor to the jawbone. During this time, impeccable oral hygiene is necessary since the main reason for failure is improper brushing and flossing. Also, smoking should be avoided as it has been shown to cause problems with Osseointegration and hygiene.

Once the root has integrated into the bone, then the "tooth" can be placed on it. Special care is taken to match the new tooth with existing teeth, to give the most natural appearance. With good care, dental implants are not completely permanent, but you can expect them to last for several decades. Depending on your age and health when the procedure is performed, you may have the initial prosthetic for the rest of your life. However, procedures performed in younger adults may need to be repeated down the road. The benefit though is that technology is always improving and dental advancements are always being made. There may even be better alternatives in the future.

This type of procedure is beneficial in that it is not as taxing on other teeth like dentures and bridges can be. Dentures and bridges rely on the integrity of the surrounding teeth for stability. An implant supports itself because it anchors to the bone and does not require surrounding teeth to carry some of the burden. Also, since this type of prosthetic is permanently placed, you will not need to remove it for cleaning. There are no special soaks or pastes; just general oral hygiene will do the job adequately. Of course, you will want to see your dentist for semi-annual cleaningsHealth Fitness Articles, at which time the implant will be assessed.

Article Tags: Dental Implants, Lost Teeth, Oral Hygiene

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