Dental implants have revolutionized dentistry. They provide a foundation for replacement of missing teeth that look, feel and function like natural teeth. They maintain facial contours and are in many ways better than the original teeth you were born with. Technological advancements have provided replacement options that are durable, strong and predictable. Those who are missing teeth can regain the ability to eat virtually anything! Dental implants are life-changing and restore confidence.
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What are Dental Implants?
The implants themselves are small threaded titanium posts, surgically placed into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These anchors act as tooth root substitutes and are specially treated to facilitate attachment to bone. As the implant heals, the bone bonds with the titanium surface (a process called osseointegration), creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. A healed implant provides a strong, virtually indestructible base for artificial replacement teeth. Implants also prevent bone shrinkage that occurs when teeth are missing.
Consequences of Missing Teeth
With missing teeth come potential complications. When teeth are missing for a period of time, the teeth on either side will shift. This makes it more difficult to keep the area clean and can lead to accelerated tooth loss. In addition, the opposing (upper or lower) teeth attempt to fill the missing space by over-erupting. Consequently, the over-erupted tooth loses stability with less bone support at the roots. Missing molars mean decreased chewing efficiency. Without distribution of forces, the remaining teeth will be overworked and bear the load normally designated for the missing tooth. This again results in premature loss of teeth.
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Since dental implants are permanent and will not move like natural teeth do, they should not be placed in patients who are not yet finished growing. Most girls finish growing later in their teenage years, but boys can have a growth spurt as late as 21. Each patient is different and your surgeon will recommend the appropriate timing.
- Replacement of missing teeth
- Improving fit of dentures
- Temporary anchorage to move teeth with the assistance of braces (orthodontics)