In the simplest terms possible, a dental implant is a metal dental device that can permanently replace damaged or missing teeth.
Constructed from surgical titanium, the implant is placed into your jaw bone and a replacement tooth or bridge is attached. Implants allow for artificial teeth to be permanently attached to the jaw bone and therefore make for not only a natural looking restorative procedure, but also a long lasting and natural feeling solution.Some BackgroundSomewhere in the region of 30 million people in North America have no teeth or dentures. After it was discovered that bone would grow in close proximity to titanium, essentially fusing the two substances, many medical uses for the metal were sure to follow. The first implant was placed in 1952 by Dr. Leonard Linkow and by the early 90s he had completed nearly 20,000 dental implant procedures. Since, implants have become one of the most widely applied and successful cosmetic dental procedures for restoring a smile with missing, broken, or severely damaged teeth.Implants TodayThe general surgical procedure for dental implants today involves placing the implants just below the surface of the gums where the titanium metal can fuse with the jawbone. Your dentist will refract your gum tissue to find the best and safest location for your implants, paying special care to avoid nerves and blood vessels. During the first 3 to 6 months after your implants have been placed, the bone will gradually grow around the titanium. During this time, you will likely be fitted with some temporary teeth as your dentist makes your new replacement teeth. Once the implants and jawbone are fully fused, your dentist will fit your new teeth. This process can take up to 9 months depending on how long it takes for the implants to become secure.Advances in ImplantsThere are some interesting innovations in dental implants. The most cutting-edge implant procedures can be completed in just one office visit. During a preliminary dental session, your dentist makes a 3-D image of your jaw which is eventually manipulated with the newest computer software to show you dentist a more precise anatomy of your jaw without even having to look in your mouth. Your implant surgery is planned based on these highly accurate images, and your dentist does not need to refract your gum tissue to inspect your jaw. Meanwhile, your replacement teeth can be fabricated and ready to place by your next dental visit. These implants essentially last a lifetime, and only the replacement teeth may need to be changed if they get cracked or broken.The BenefitsRegardless of the type of dental implant you have, they offer a number of benefits compared to other procedures. Dental implants can replace one or more teeth without needing to anchor to surrounding teeth or otherwise affecting those teeth. They can even support a bridge, and therefore implants eliminate the need for removable partial dentures. Finally, dental implants are essentially a permanent treatment that will restore your smile for your lifetime.