Dental implants offer patients a unique way to replace their missing teeth. This is because unlike any other solution currently available, dental implants replace not only the visible tooth but also the root itself. This ensures that not only do dental implants closely look like natural teeth, but they also feel like them too. This unique design has helped to make dental implants the most effective and popular solution for patients looking for a long-term solution to their missing teeth.
The root element of a dental implant is in the form of a titanium post that is surgically implanted into the jawbone via an incision that is first made into the gum above where the missing tooth is. Once this has been inserted, the bone will automatically begin to heal around the post, securing it in place. As a result, the implant is permanently anchored into the jaw, making it more robust than any other available solution. This healing process takes place over a number of months, after which the visible part of the implant can be attached. This is a porcelain crown that will be created to the shape and size that is needed to look entirely natural. Once secured onto the implant using a special connector, the entire process is complete.
The good news is that most people are found to be good candidates for dental implants. However, this doesn’t automatically mean that you can undergo this treatment. Your suitability will need to be addressed at a consultation before the procedure can be scheduled. This appointment will be used to assess several key elements of your mouth and teeth, as well as your overall dental and general health.
Typically, patients who are found to be good candidates for dental implants meet a number of criteria including the following:
They are missing at least one tooth.
They are over the age of 18 or their jawbone has stopped growing.
Their remaining teeth are healthy and there is no outstanding dental work required.
They have no sign of gum disease.
They are committed to the long-term health of their mouth and teeth, and brush twice daily and floss regularly to help sustain this.
They are found to have sufficient healthy bone in their jaw.
This last point is particularly important since, for dental implants to be successful, they rely on a process called osseointegration. This is where the bone regenerates around the implanted titanium post to hold it in place. If osseointegration isn’t successful, the implant will have nothing to secure it into the mouth and it could become unstable. This could lead to the artificial tooth moving around – something which could be noticeable and awkward. You may be asked to undergo x-rays to determine the quality and health of your jawbone.
Bone loss is a common problem among patients who have been missing teeth for some time. This is because, without a root to stimulate it, the bone starts to deteriorate. If you are found to have an insufficient healthy bone in your jaw, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can't benefit from dental implants. However, you may first need a bone graft to increase the amount of live, strong bone in your jaw so that it can support dental implants. Your dentist will be able to tell you if this is the case and will be able to organize a bone grafting procedure if necessary.
For more information about dental implants and what makes someone a good candidate for this treatment, or to make an appointment to discuss your own suitability, please speak to our dental team in New Orleans, LA today.