Implants are a permanent solution for missing teeth. Dentists used to replace missing teeth with bridges or removable dentures. Many patients do not like the idea having to wear a denture and being able to take it out. Implants provide a solution that is fixed and most closely resembles the tooth it is replacing.
An implant is made up of three parts. Essentially, a small titanium screw is the implant imbedded into bone. This piece resembles the “root” of a tooth. A porcelain crown goes over the implant to replace the appearance of a natural tooth. The crown is connected to the implant by a piece called the abutment, basically making up the body of the tooth. Implants are generally placed by dentists, oral surgeons and periodontists. The titanium screw fuses to the bone over a period of four to six months making the implant permanent and non-removable. Most implant surgery can be completed in under an hour and the patient leaves with a temporary replacement tooth while the bone heals.
Compared with bridge work, implants provide a more conservative option to replace a single tooth. A bridge has to be connected to two anchor teeth, which have to be prepped for crowns. Bridges may also become decayed after several years. Implants are not subject to decay but do have to be kept clean for healthy surrounding tissue.
If you have a missing tooth and are afraid to smile, an implant may be right for you. A dentist has to evaluate the quality of bone in the proposed implant site before any surgery. With a success rate above 95% it is clear to see why millions of Americans have dental implants to replace missing teeth.