Implants are dental installations used to secure bridges, replace a missing tooth, or anchor dentures and overdentures. This procedure is the only tooth replacement option which stimulates the jawbone and supports soft tissue growth. An implant typically includes a titanium post, which is implanted into the patient’s jaw and acts as a root for the new prosthetic tooth. Titanium is used most often because of its unique biocompatibility. The visible tooth is usually a crown and, with modern materials and fabrication techniques, looks very similar to a natural tooth.
Dental implants are usually installed over three visits to the dentist. The dentist installs the post into the patient’s jawbone during the first visit. There is a small break between visits, of a two or three weeks to allow the titanium to fuse with the jawbone and create a stable foundation. This increase stability is due to stimulation of natural bone growth, which reduces the bone loss typically associated with the loss of a tooth and supports the soft tissue of the face and mouth. At the second appointment, the dentist installs the abutment. The abutment is a device which connects the titanium post to the crown, denture, or bridge designed to act as the false tooth. A temporary crown will be fitted at this point. The dentist will take an impression of the gap and the surrounding teeth to aid in the manufacturing of the prosthetic. Once the prosthetic tooth is ready, the patient will return for the final visit, for the new tooth to be fitted and buffed and polished.
Dental implants can last just as long or longer than natural teeth. Regular care is still essential. Although the prosthetic tooth will not decay, the surrounding natural tissue can still deteriorate and cause problems if neglected, resulting in further dental issues and need for treatment.
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