A dental implant is a titanium post (like a tooth root) that is surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath the gum line that allows your dentist to mount replacement teeth or bridge into that area. An implant doesn't come loose like a denture can. Dental implants also benefit general oral health because they do not have to be anchored to other teeth, like bridges.
A dental implant can do wonders for self-esteem, because it feels and looks like a normal tooth. Many people who were shy about smiling because of a space from a lost tooth feel more comfortable after a dental implant. Beyond the aesthetics, a dental implant also makes it easier to eat and speak, because a titanium post secured directly in the jaw holds the implant in place.
Good oral health habits are required for the implant. You must floss once daily and brush your teeth two to three times at day. In addition, you should visit your dentist every six months for an exam and cleaning appointment.
If you are considering dental implants, you need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. If your bone is too thin or soft and unable to support an implant, you may require a bone graft. Or if there is not enough bone height in the upper jaw or the sinuses are too close to the jaw you may require a sinus lift. A sinus lift is a surgery performed by an oral surgeon or a periodontist. During surgery bone is added to the upper jaw between the jaw and the maxillary sinuses, in the area of the molars and premolars.
American Dental Association considers two types of dental implants to be safe for use.2 They are:
These are the most common type of implant and are surgically placed directly into the jawbone, they are also called root-form implants. These are typically shaped like small screws, cylinders or plates. In order for an endosteal implant to be successful the bone needs to be deep and wide enough to provide a secure foundation. Once the surrounding gum tissue has healed, a second surgery is needed to connect a post to the original implant. Finally, an artificial tooth (or teeth) is attached to the post-individually, or grouped on a bridge or denture.
This type of implant consists of a metal frame that is fitted onto the jawbone just under the gum tissue. As the gums heal, the frame becomes fixed to the jawbone. Posts, which are attached to the frame, protrude through the gums. As with endosteal implants, artificial teeth are then mounted to the posts.