If you’ve lost a tooth, you’re not alone. More than 120 million people in the United States are missing one as well. But you don’t have to live with the embarrassment of a gap or space in your smile. Dental implants can help your appearance by replacing your lost tooth, and they also improve your oral health. To find out more about dental implants, call Lynn M. Andreacola, DMD, and her team at Andreacola Family Dentistry in Marlton, New Jersey, or make an appointment online.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root, usually made of titanium, that’s surgically placed into your upper or lower jawbone beneath your gum. The implant supports an artificial replacement tooth or teeth.
Dental implants are thought to be better than regular dentures or bridges, because those types of replacement teeth aren’t permanently attached to your mouth and may slip or move. For some people, they’re simply too uncomfortable. Furthermore, dental implants are stable and durable, and they look and feel like natural teeth.
Dental implants can not only improve the appearance of your teeth but can also improve your dental health. A gap or space in your mouth can cause other teeth to shift over time. And without the missing tooth root to stimulate the bone in that spot, it can lead to bone loss in your jawbone, which can change your facial appearance.
Implants restore the proper function of your missing tooth, which improves your bite and your overall health. With implants, no other teeth are harmed or altered during the restoration, as they are with bridges and dentures.
Other benefits of dental implants include:
One or more implants can also provide support for a bridge or denture, making it more secure and comfortable.
First, Dr. Andreacola examines your gums, jaw, and teeth to make sure you’re a good candidate with healthy gums and adequate bone to support an implant. If you don’t have enough bone, or it’s too thin or soft, she can discuss options, such as a bone graft.
Then, depending on your condition and how many teeth you’re replacing, Dr. Andreacola develops a personalized treatment plan. The first step is surgically inserting the implant into your jawbone below the gums. As your gums and jawbone heal, it closes in around the implant, securing it your jaw.
In some cases, an implant and post are inserted together. In other circumstances, the post (also called an abutment) is attached to the implant after it’s inserted. Healing can take several months.
Your replacement teeth are custom made for your mouth, and then fitted to the post portion of the implant. To get your new teeth perfectly fitted, you may see Dr. Andreacola several more times before they’re permanently attached to the implant.
Good oral hygiene and eating habits, along with regular dental visits, are vital to the success of your implants.