A dental implant is an artificial device that is used to replace missing teeth. Basically, it is a titanium screw that is surgically fixed into the jawbone. The titanium screw serves as an artificial tooth root that provides support to a bridge, crown, or denture.
How do Dental Implants work?
The underlying mechanism of dental implants is a phenomenon known as ‘osseointegration’. Osseointegration is the formation of a bond between the titanium screw and cells of the jawbone. This bond secures the implant in place and prevents deterioration of the jawbone which is very common after natural teeth are lost.
Parts of a Dental Implant
A dental implant consists of 3 parts:
- Implant – the titanium screw
- Abutment – a small attachment that connects a crown with the titanium screw
- Crown – the artificial tooth used to replace a missing tooth
Who is an Ideal Candidate for a Dental Implant?
Conditions that are necessary for the successful placement of a dental implant include:
- Adequate and healthy jawbone
- Disease-free gum tissue
- Good general health
- Favorable oral environment
- Maintenance of oral hygiene
Your dentist can further advise you if you are a good candidate for an implant.
Uses of Dental Implants
The dental implant is a revolutionary technique in restorative dentistry that can be used in several ways to restore people’s smiles after they have lost their natural teeth. Implants can be used to:
- Replace a single tooth (single implants)
- Replace multiple teeth (implant-supported bridges)
- Retain dentures (implant-retained dentures)
Let’s look at each of these uses in more detail.
Single implants are used when only a single missing tooth has to be replaced. Single implants are the solution for appearance-conscious people who have a single missing tooth with healthy adjacent teeth.
The advantages of single implants over removable partial dentures or conventional bridges are:
- Esthetically superior
- Maintenance of jawbone integrity
- Preservation of healthy adjacent teeth
- Healthy gum tissue without pressure sores or irritation caused by dentures
- Maintenance of facial profile by preventing bone loss
- Easy maintenance and cleaning
- Much more convenient as there is no fear of clicking sounds or denture slipping while eating or speaking
Multiple Implants (Implant-Supported Bridges)
Treatment options for multiple missing teeth include:
- Partial dentures
- Conventional fixed bridges
- Implant-supported bridges
Among these options, implant-supported bridge is the latest and superior technique. People have relied a lot on partial dentures and fixed bridges to restore their smile and chewing ability. However, a higher success rate and numerous other benefits associated with implant-supported bridges have made conventional dentures and bridges almost outdated.
The benefits of implant-supported bridges are:
- Preservation of jawbone and facial dimensions
- Preservation of healthy adjacent teeth (no need to grind neighboring teeth for support)
- Much more comfortable to wear because they do not cause any irritation or soreness of gums
- Easy to maintain and clean
- No diet restrictions because chewing with implant-supported bridges is much like chewing with natural teeth
- Much more secure and stable as compared to partial dentures or fixed bridges
Implant-retained dentures are a great way to have secure dentures with a nice fit and get rid of loose dentures which can slip any time you eat or speak. The number of implants required to support a denture varies according to the needs of the patient.
Implant-retained dentures are considered superior to conventional removable dentures because:
- Implant-retained dentures preserve the jawbone which improves esthetics and maintains facial profile by preventing bone loss
- No more embarrassing moments while eating or speaking because implant-retained dentures are fixed and cannot slip out of the mouth like removable dentures
- Increased comfort because implant-retained dentures look, feel, and work just like natural teeth
- No pressure sores and irritation of the gums
Success Rate of Dental Implants
One reason why dental implants are becoming so popular is their much higher success rate when compared to other teeth replacing options. If the proper protocol of placing dental implants is followed, the success rate can be as high as 93 to 98%.
Can Dental Implants Fail?
Yes, dental implants have a risk of failure if the patient has:
- Inadequate jawbone
- Gum disease
- Poor oral hygiene
- A habit of teeth grinding
- A smoking history