Missing teeth are more common than one might think. It is estimated that approximately 74% of the British population are missing or have replaced at least some of their natural teeth. Missing teeth affect more than a charming smile.
Missing teeth can also affect the bite of an individual or even weaken the jawbone. Not to worry, there are options for those who need to replace a missing tooth. The advancement of prosthetic dentistry has come a long way, and it is now possible to have better looking artificial teeth without losing the function of natural teeth.
Benefits of dental implants
Dental implants offer a long term solution to missing teeth. They also have a natural look and are usually the preferred method of choice for replacing missing teeth.
In addition to a natural long term solution to replace teeth, implants are a tried and true method that produce consistent and safe results. WebMD reports that over 98% of dental implants are successful.
Durability is another advantage for patients choosing implants. Patients can enjoy all foods without having to worry about damage or pain. They are so durable that if looked after well, implants can last a lifetime.
What to expect
The initial step for the patient is to meet the oral surgeon for consultation. Often, the patient will undergo an x-ray for the surgeon to determine whether there is any impacted teeth or bone loss. The information obtained in the x-ray will help prepare the surgeon to design a plan for the patient’s unique set of teeth.
If the patient is satisfied with the plan, then they will move onto the next step, a mould of their teeth. The moulding step is to ensure the implants will work for the patients set of teeth.
This is usually completed by a patient biting down on a liquid U-shaped impression tray. Once removed the mould will harden as an accurate representation of the patient’s jaw.
Before implants, there may be an additional step if the patient’s goal is to replace a cracked, rotten, or problematic tooth. Extraction would then be necessary.
In this case, it would mean that the implant would be completed at a later date to allow the area of the extracted tooth to heal.
If there is no extraction needed, then the patient can move onto the implant step without any delay. Typically, permanent implants are conducted under local or general anaesthesia.
The oral surgeon will place a titanium screw into the jaw, acting as the patient’s new tooth root. The screw is fitted with a cap that will be replaced later.
The patient will continue to have a temporary gap for several weeks while their gum heals and their jaw adjusts to the metal screw to allow for stable anchorage.
The last step is to fill the missing tooth with an abutment and crown once the jaw is fully healed. The oral surgeon will replace the cap with the titanium abutment. The porcelain crown made to match the patient’s surrounding teeth will then be cemented or screwed on.
Dental implants are not a quick fix solution. It takes time, care, and preparation. Consequently, the results are effective, long-lasting, and aesthetically pleasing. If in need of teeth replacement, patients should consider dental implants.