Crowns and conventional bridges or
dentures may not be your only options when replacing missing
teeth. For some people, dental implants offer a smile that
looks and feels very natural. Surgically placed below the
gums over a series of appointments, implants fuse to the
jawbone and serve as a base for individual replacement
teeth, bridges or a denture.
Implants offer stability because they
fuse to your bone. Integration of the implants into your jaw
also helps your replacement teeth feel more natural and some
people also find the secure fit more comfortable than
Candidates for dental implants need to
have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant.
A thorough evaluation by your dentist will help determine
whether you are a good candidate for dental implants.
Is there another way I can have a tooth replaced other
than a bridge?
Yes. Dental implants can provide
artificial teeth that look natural and feel secure. Dental
implants can also be used to attach full or partial
dentures. Implants, however, are not an option for everyone.
Because implants require surgery, patients must be in good
health, have healthy gums, have adequate bone to support the
implant and be committed to meticulous oral hygiene and
regular dental visits. If you are considering implants, a
thorough evaluation by your dentist will help determine if
you would be a good candidate.
What is involved in placing implants?
First, surgery is performed to place the
anchor. Surgery can take up to several hours, and up to six
months may be required for the bone to grow around the
anchor and firmly hold it in place. Some implants require a
second surgery in which a post is attached to connect the
anchor to the replacement teeth. With other implants, the
anchor and post are already attached and are placed at the
After the gums have had several weeks to
heal, the next step is begun. The artificial teeth are made
and fitted to the post portion of the anchor. Because
several fittings may be required, this step can take one to
two months to complete.
Implant surgery can be done either in a
dental office or in a hospital, depending upon a number of
factors. A local or general anesthetic may be used. Usually
pain medications and, when necessary, antibiotics are
prescribed. Your dentist will give you instructions on diet
and oral hygiene.