How Dental Implants Function
Dental implants are touted for their resemblance to natural teeth. They look, feel and function just like natural teeth. There is no tooth substitute that is stronger or more durable than a dental implant. They provide a solid foundation for biting and chewing that allows patients to eat all their favorite foods without restriction. In addition, they are cared for and cleaned the same way as natural teeth, by brushing and flossing as normal.
Anyone considering a dental implant will first meet with a dentist to discuss this and other treatment options. A thorough dental exam, including dental x-rays, will be completed to determine if you are a candidate for a dental implant. If you decide to proceed with dental implant placement, several steps will be involved in the treatment, carried out over several appointments.
1. The dental implant, consisting of a titanium post, is surgically inserted into the jawbone.
2. Over the next several weeks to months, your implant is given time to heal. As it heals, it osseointegrates, or fuses with, your jawbone, providing a very strong foundation on which to place a false tooth. Before osseointegration, pressure cannot be applied to the implant site.
3. Once the implant and bone fuse together, an abutment is attached to the top of the post that protrudes through the gumline. A temporary false tooth can be attached to the abutment at this point and the patient can eat soft foods.
4. Once the gum tissue heals around the abutment, a permanent false tooth can be attached and eating all foods can resume. The false tooth may consist of a crown to replace a single tooth, or a dental bridge or dentures if several teeth need to be replaced.
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