Dental Implants Could Be The Perfect SolutionDental Implants Could Be The Perfect Solution

When a tooth is lost or extracted, it leaves a gap and the possibility of a wide range of negative effects that can result from an empty space where a tooth once was. To begin with, food can become trapped, which can lead to cavities or gum disease, or the surrounding teeth may begin to drift into the space, throwing off the alignment of your teeth and your bite. But the most important negative side effect of losing a tooth is that your jaw bone will begin to dissolve because it no longer has the tooth root to keep it stimulated and healthy.

In the past, a crown or bridge that was secured by surrounding teeth could fill in the space, but the jaw bone still dissolved from lack of internal stimulation. With the advance of dental technology, a titanium screw can now be surgically implanted in your jaw bone. The screw acts like a natural tooth root and keeps your jaw bone stimulated and healthy, which keeps your gums healthy as well.

Once the tissue heals around the implant, an abutment fits over the screw where it protrudes above the gum line and a crown that looks, feels and functions like a normal tooth secures onto the abutment. One of the strongest features of an implanted tooth (or teeth) is that it 'stands alone,' unlike bridges or partial dentures that are secured by surrounding teeth. Because the implant stands on its own, it does not compromise the integrity of surrounding teeth, which could lead to problems with those teeth in the future. And if an implant is used to immediately replace a tooth, the bone and gum structure should still be strong and in tact, which strongly influences the success of an implant.

Patients who are good candidates for dental implants are those in good overall health with healthy gums and a strong jaw bone. Good oral hygiene and regular visits to a dentist are also important factors for implants to be appropriate and successful. In general, the age of an adult patient is not a major factor in whether or not a patient is a good candidate for an implant as long as they are in good health. Implants are typically not a good idea for people who smoke or have poorly controlled diabetes because these factors can impede the healing process of the implant. If a patient's gums are afflicted with any form of periodontal disease, the problem will need to be treated and healed before an implant can be done.

One of the greatest features about an implanted tooth or teeth is that they feel, look and function like real teeth. And because they look and feel like your own teeth, it is very difficult for others to ascertain that you have an 'imitation tooth.'

The process of getting an implanted tooth is very straightforward and typically a three-step process:

1. A titanium screw is surgically inserted into your jaw with the top of the implant protruding slightly above your jaw bone. The gum is secured over the implant which will begin to fuse with your bone in a process called "osseointegration."

2. A post is attached to the implant extension and the gum tissue is allowed to heal around the post.

3. A crown in a size, shape and color that will blend with your other teeth is made and attached to the implant post.

As a dentist, I am able to assess a patient's overall health along with their gum tissue and bone structure to determine if they are a good candidate for a dental implant. For patients who are, dental implants are often the perfect solution.
by Dr. Susan Wells
References and Bibliography
Dr. Susan Wells DMD has been practicing dentistry in Alabama since 1978. Although she treats patients for all aspects of general dentistry, the cosmetic procedures including traditional dental implants are what she enjoys the most. Visit her site at http://DrSusanWells.com.
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