We work our teeth A LOT over the years. And as we get older, all that wear and tear can
sometimes lead to tooth loss. Tooth loss is common in older adults; fortunately, patients who
need teeth removed and replaced have more options than ever before. If you are facing tooth
loss, your dentist may have suggested dental implants. This practice is quickly becoming one of
the most popular ways for dentists to replace teeth…but are dental implants right for you?

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants consist of three parts: the implant fixture, the abutment, and the prosthesis (or
crown). The implant fixture is a titanium screw that is placed in the patient’s gums. After the
installation, the patient’s jawbone grows and fuses to the titanium implant. The implant replaces
the missing tooth’s root. The abutment, usually made of titanium, stainless steel, or zirconia,
connects the implant fixture and the crown. The crown is connected to the abutment through a
screw or cement. There are many different types of dental implant crowns, but are commonly
made of porcelain.

What Is The Process for Installing Dental Implants?

Installing dental implants requires multiple visits to the dentist. The first procedure may take less
than an hour, but will require local anesthesia or possibly sedation. The dentist drills a hole into
the patient’s jawbone, where they will place the implant fixture and abutment. The dentist will
then get an X-ray of the area to make sure that the implant is installed correctly. The gum above
the implant is stitched up, and the patient may be given a temporary bridge or crown to attach to
the abutment while the gum heals and the bone fuses to the implant.

Stitches may be removed after a few days, but it may take months before the jawbone is
properly fused to the dental implant. After this process is finished, the second procedure will
begin. Dentists may require a separate appointment in order to take molds and create the crown
that will be permanently installed. Patients may also be able to choose the shade of their
porcelain crown so that it blends in with the rest of their teeth. To install the crown, the dentist
will make another incision in the gum to expose the implant and attach the crown by a screw or
cement. This procedure is also performed with a local anesthetic.

Who Benefits From Dental Implants?

Dental implants are a popular choice for tooth replacement, but patients should be aware of the
risks and maintenance required after the implants are installed.
Around 90% of implant installations are successful, but a patient may require a bone graft while
the implant is installed. Without enough bone in the jaw, the implant cannot be properly
installed. Patients who suffer from periodontal disease, uncontrolled diabetes, are heavy
smokers, or patients who have recently undergone radiation treatment should consider
alternative options. Pregnant women should also talk to their dentist before considering dental
implants.

Dental implants require maintenance after they are installed. Namely, brushing and flossing just
like you do with your regular teeth. The process, healing time, and number of required
appointments may vary with each dentist. If you are considering implants, talk with your dentist
about all your options to see if implants are right for you.