Many Americans are insecure about their teeth. Although these insecurities can often be cured by teeth whitening and regular care via dentistry, for those with missing teeth it may not be that simple.
Nearly 1 out of 5 Americans have one or more cavities that have gone and will go untreated. This is partially because the average American may go for three years without visiting a dentist. This causes decay and plaque to build up on the teeth, which in turn leads to cavities and other dental diseases. If left untreated, a tooth may die and fall from a patient’s mouth completely. Or, in some cases of gum disease, the tooth may be uprooted from the loosened gum and fall out.
A routine check-up with a dentist can keep tooth loss from occurring; however, in the event that it does occur and the tooth is unable to be fixed, the patient may see the benefit in a dental implant. Because people rarely discuss their missing teeth, most patients know very little about dental implants until they have to receive one themselves.
So what are dental implants and how do they work?
A dental implant may be necessary if a patient finds it uncomfortable to chew or speak without their missing tooth. Or, they may see the use of an implant for the benefit of a better smile. In any case, a dental implant replaces a missing tooth with an artificial root and crown.
The “root” is implanted into the jaw bone during oral surgery. In modern times, this implant is most often made of titanium. The bone of the jaw will then naturally fuse with the implant as it heals. Once the mouth has healed around the implant’s artificial root, a dentist will screw in the abutment, which is a tooth-like piece of titanium, porcelain, or gold. The abutment is what allows the crown to be placed over the implant.
Once the dentist has applied the abutment to the implant, he or she will then place a porcelain or partially porcelain crown over the implant. This will give you the look and function of a real tooth.
However, a dental implant procedure can only be done if the patient has enough bone in the jaw and if their bone is strong enough to hold the implant securely in place. If the bone is not strong enough, the patient may need to undergo a bone grafting or bone augmentation procedure. Additionally, the patient’s gums, supporting tissue, and natural teeth must also be in good health.
A dental implant may be a positive choice for you if you are insecure of a missing tooth or if you are having difficulty chewing or speaking. Consult your dentist to determine if your teeth, jaw, and gums are in good health and may be able to receive a dental implant.