Most people will lose at least one tooth by the time they become seniors. If this tooth loss isn’t accompanied by (or the result of) any kind of infection or another dental issue, it might be easy to think that you don’t have to do anything about that now-empty space. However, failing to replace a missing tooth can affect more than just how your smile looks. Without the tooth, the root that was once there is no longer stimulating the bone, causing it to become weakened. In addition, one or more missing teeth can lead to facial deformities, gum disease, malocclusion (as the teeth start to move into the empty gap), or even tooth decay. Dentures can help with some of these issues, but they might not be enough.
Patients who have recently lost a tooth or will need a tooth extraction should consider single-tooth implants, an effective and safe option to restore their smile.
The implant itself is a titanium rod that is anchored into the jawbone in the hole that was left by the missing tooth. The functional part of the tooth (that you use to eat and speak) is a crown, which is attached to the implant via a device called an abutment.
Placing a dental implant requires surgery as the dentist will need to cut into the gums to access the bone underneath. Local or general anesthesia may be used. The implant is anchored into the bone, and the gum tissue is stitched closed over it. You will have to wait for approximately four months to allow the implant time to fuse with the jawbone in a process called osseointegration. You may be fitted with a temporary crown over the site during this time. When you return to the dentist’s office, he or she will make sure that the implant is fully integrated and ready to receive the crown. An abutment and the prosthetic tooth will then be placed onto the implant. With proper care, the crown should last for 15 years or longer and the implant for the rest of the patient’s life.
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