It used to be that if you lost a tooth as an adult, your only solutions were bridges or dentures. Each of those options comes with a particular set of problems: dentures slip around and don’t feel like real teeth, and bridges require that the two teeth bordering the missing tooth be shaved down to accommodate the bridge.
Also, both dentures and bridges will result in in the jawbone underneath the missing tooth deteriorating due to lack of structural support. Bone loss can be painful, and it will give your profile a sunken-jaw look that many people find unattractive. It isn’t just about looks, either: that bone loss can lead to some serious and painful complications, such as jaw fractures and nerve exposure.
Dental implants solve all the problems associated with dentures and bridges. They don’t slip around, they don’t require any healthy teeth to be damaged as a prerequisite to installation, and they support the mandible to prevent bone loss. Dental implants also provide more functionality than bridges or dentures, allowing patients to eat crunchy or chewy foods with ease.
So, exactly what are dental implants?
They are small titanium surgical components that are installed into the jawbone to replace the root of a missing tooth. The part that actually looks like a tooth is a crown that is bonded to the implant.
Be aware that not everyone can get a dental implant. Some people don’t have a jawbone strong enough to be a candidate for this procedure. Smoking, alcohol use, and some chronic diseases are some factors that put a patient at risk of degrading their jawbone enough that the dental implant procedure is not an option for them.
Also, don’t worry about the produce being painful. It’s not. Even though a metal screw being driven into your gums sounds like something out of horror movie, anesthesia during the procedure should make it entirely pain-free. After the surgery pain is also minimal: most patients only need a pain relief plan of a few Advils a day for a week after the surgery.
Dental implants are not an immediate solution, in that after the procedure you still have to wait a few months before the implant can support the crown above that actually covers up the gap. This is because it takes time (months) for the bone to properly heal and interface with the metal implant. You can use dentures or partials to hide the gap while the implant heals.
The procedure is actually done in three stages that are weeks and months apart. First, the implant is installed. After a few months of it healing below the surface of the gums, a small metal post is attached to the implant. The final step is to create the replacement tooth and fit it on to the post.
If you’re looking to replace a missing tooth, a dental implant is absolutely your best option for restoring your smile. You can contact one of the best Implant Dentists in California, Dr. Safarian, at (858) 755 – 8993 for his San Diego office or (619) 656 – 6785 for his Chula Vista office.