What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root made of titanium which replaces the missing tooth. The dentist inserts the implant into your gum. Just like your tooth root did before, the implant then builds a stable foundation for the crown, which will become the visible part of your new tooth.
Dental implants are very small, normally around 10 mm long and only 3-5 mm wide at the top.
Crowns and bridges
Dental crowns and bridges are also known as replacement teeth. They can be made of different material and are used to replace any tooth that is missing or beyond repair. Beforehand, a dental laboratory designs each replacement tooth individually so that it matches your bite and the look and feel of your other teeth.
A crown is used on a damaged tooth or a dental implant.
A bridge can restore gaps between teeth. The outer parts of the bridge are placed on existing teeth next to the tooth gap, while the middle part replaces the lost tooth. Bridges can also be used on dental implants, usually when two or more teeth are missing.
Bridge or dental implant? – A comparison
To restore missing teeth, your dentist can use a bridge. It consists of several replacement teeth that will literally bridge the gap. But using bridges on natural teeth can have several serious disadvantages:
Visible metal rims
Certain types of bridges, made of metal and covered with porcelain, can lead to visible black metal lines at the rim of the bridge when your gums keep receding. An all-ceramic bridge can provide an alternative in such cases. Speak to your dentist if an all-ceramic bridge might be a good solution for you.
Grinding down neighboring teeth
Bridges are anchored to adjacent teeth to keep them in place. This means, however, that these healthy neighboring teeth must first be reduced in size.
Effects on jaw bone and gum
When you lose teeth, it disturbs the interplay between teeth and bone. Gum and bone are no longer stimulated well enough due to missing teeth, so your jaw bone starts shrinking and your gum pulls back.
To avoid grinding down teeth and effects on jaw bone and gum, your dentist can replace the tooth root to create a completely new tooth with a dental implant.
How dental implants can help you
Why choose dental implants?
Dental implants are widely considered to be the most successful method of tooth replacement used today, because they give a number of benefits to patients.
A natural smile
A dental implant looks and feels just like your natural tooth. The color, shape and contour of the new tooth can be made to match. The result is a natural smile, that can bring back your confidence and quality of life. With your new teeth sparkling on the outside, you will soon feel a smile coming back on the inside.
Eat and speak normally
Did you have to give up on some of your favorite dishes since you lost your teeth? Or do you feel self-conscious when talking to your colleagues and friends, because missing teeth or dentures make it more difficult to speak clearly?
Dental implants bring back the full function of natural teeth. So no matter how hard, crunchy or sticky the food, dental implants can put it back on your menu. And they can restore your clear speech for the next business presentation or long chats with your friends.
Neighboring teeth stay intact
Other restoration methods often require neighboring teeth to be ground down to anchor the restoration in your mouth. Dental implants do not harm neighboring teeth.
Stable and comfortable fit
Since dental implants are fixed to your jaw bone, they are usually more stable, more comfortable and long-lasting than other restorations. On top of that, dental implants are made of biocompatible materials, which means that your body tolerates them.
A long-lasting and proven solution
Dental implants are very durable. With proper care and good oral hygiene, implants will last for many years or even a lifetime. Decades of research have gone into their functionality and stability, since the first patient received modern dental implants in 1965.
Implant treatment can be considered a long-term investment into your health and your wellbeing – in short, an investment into your life. Compared to other restorations, costs can seem higher at first glance. However, higher maintenance costs, the potential increase in lost jaw bone, and, ultimately, the loss of even more teeth can make other restorations more expensive in the long run.
Why its’ important to replace a missing tooth
A single lost or damaged tooth can influence your daily life. Even though it may be at the back of your mouth and not visible from the outside, over time it can start affecting your appearance, self-esteem, your oral health and even your health in general. Learn more about what role each tooth has to play in your mouth, the consequences of tooth loss and when to contact a dentist.
What does treatment look like?
Diagnosis and treatment planning
Your dentist will first examine your dental situation carefully to decide if you meet the prerequisites for dental implant treatment.
During diagnosis, the dentist also evaluates what type of jaw bone you have and how much of it is left. After years of living with missing teeth, your jaw bone can sometimes be severely reduced. In this case, your dentist will discuss alternative procedures with you to make dental implant treatment possible.
Your dentist may opt to use digital tools to plan your treatment by generating an exact 3D image of your mouth. This will help the dental team immensely, because it helps them find the best angle and depth for your implant.
Placing the implant
Implant placement usually is usually quick, easy and comfortable and thanks to local anesthesia, you will hardly feel anything. Depending on the individual situation in your mouth, implants are placed in a one or multiple-step procedure.
After surgery, your dentist usually places a temporary crown, bridge or just a small plastic cap on top of your implant, while the implant integrates with the jaw bone. The integration of implant and bone is called osseointegration (from Greek osteon, bone). Depending on your individual situation, it can take from a few weeks to a few months. In the meantime, your dentist will work with a dental laboratory to design and manufacture your final restoration. Your customized crown or bridge is then attached to the implant with a tiny screw or cement.
Nobel Biocare implants are designed to maximize the opportunity for Immediate Function. This means, your dentist will often be able to place a temporary restoration already on the day of surgery, you can leave with a provisional set of fixed teeth and reduce the number of visits to your dentist.
A number of conditions have to first be fulfilled. Speak to your dentist to find out if it is possible in your case.