Dental Implants: What Are They and How Do They Work?

Whether a tooth has fallen out due to an accident or due to extensive tooth decay, a dental gap must be filled. About 15 million people in the U.S. have a crown or bridge for a missing tooth.

When the space of the missing tooth is left alone, the remaining teeth will begin to shift to fill in the space. This can cause several issues including bite misalignment and jaw pain.

Fortunately, a dental implant can be a great way to fill in the gap of a missing tooth to prevent further damage. But what exactly are dental implants and what does the procedure involve?

What are dental implants?

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root. It looks and functions exactly like a real tooth. The implant is placed into the jawbone where it bonds with your natural bone. The root is capped with a custom-made crown to match your natural teeth and fit your mouth.

Dental implants have been used successfully for more than 30 years. Over 3 million people worldwide have a dental implant. They’re the strongest replacement tooth option available. These implants are even more natural-looking and functioning than dentures.

If you’re missing a tooth or several teeth, consider asking your dentist about dental implants and whether you’d be a good candidate for the procedure.

What does the procedure look like?

The dental implant procedure isn’t a one-step process. The entire process of getting a dental implant takes several months. If you’ve decided to get a dental implant, the process will look something like this:

  1. Your consultation. Before getting a dental implant, your dentist needs to make sure that you’re a good candidate. Your gums need to be healthy and your jaw needs to be strong enough to hold the implant. If you’re a good candidate, your procedure will be scheduled.
  2. The implant is placed. During the first procedure, you’ll be given local or general anesthesia either at the dentist’s office or the hospital depending on the number of implants you’re receiving. The implant’s root is placed into the jaw during this first procedure. As you heal, the root will be covered with gum tissue. The new gum tissue keeps the implant secure in your jaw just like a real tooth.
  3. The connector is attached. Once the implant has healed, a connector (also known as an abutment) is placed onto the implant. This gives the crown something to attach to.
  4. The crown is attached. Your dentist attaches a customized crown to the connector. Once the entire implant has successfully healed, your implant will look and function like a real tooth.

While oral surgery can be scary, especially when it involves an implant, dental implant surgery is one of the most predictable and safe procedures in modern dentistry.

What are the benefits of dental implants?

Anyone who has a missing tooth can benefit from an implant. While adults commonly opt for implants over dentures, teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 can also choose to have a missing tooth replaced with an implant.

Implants are typically chosen because of their many benefits including:

  • Giving you confidence. Teeth implants are secure, which means they don’t slip or click when you eat, laugh, or talk. Your speech will sound more natural and you can enjoy spending time with those you love without worrying about an embarrassing moment. Teeth implants give you greater peace of mind to be active and smile.
  • Keeping your other teeth healthy. Leaving a space in your teeth can cause health issues such as jaw deterioration and bite misalignment. However, certain treatments for missing teeth such as a dental bridge can put more stress on your remaining teeth. An implant helps to prevent bone loss and alignment issues without damaging your other teeth.
  • Staying strong. Your teeth implants are built to last. While dentures and dental bridges need to be replaced approximately every five to 10 years depending on their wear and tear, dental implants can last for decades.

Are you looking for some of the top dentists in Loudoun County Virginia? Loudoun Dental Associates has the expertise you’re looking for when it comes to dental improvements. To learn more about how dental implants work or to schedule an appointment for a dental checkup, contact us at Loudoun Dental Associates today.