What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is the sophisticated, popular restoration process used to replace missing teeth. Dental implants comprise an artificial tooth root surgically placed into the jawbone to support a replacement tooth using a crown or a dental bridge. Dental implants offer a long-term, durable, and natural-looking option for restoring your smile’s function and appearance.
The dental implant process typically involves several steps. It begins with a dental implant specialist or oral surgeon assessing your oral health to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for the procedure. This examination includes an evaluation of one’s jawbone to understand and ensure whether the jawbone has enough density and structure to support an implant or several implants.
Having positively determined that the jawbone can accommodate and support an implant or implants, the next step entails the surgical placement of the dental implant. Let’s break down the components of a single tooth implant.
Types of Dental Implants
- Mini Dental Implants. Mini dental implants are a new and low-cost way to secure your dentures at less than half the cost of traditional dental implants! Even patients who are told they aren’t candidates for traditional implants may benefit from mini implants. Sometimes, your existing dentures can be used, making this implant procedure even more affordable.
- Single Tooth Dental Implant. Single-tooth implants do not decay or need root canal treatments and have the highest long-term success rates for replacing a single tooth.
- All-on-Four: Full Arch Dental Implants. All-on-Four dentures replace all your teeth with a permanent set of natural-feeling prosthetics that function exactly like a set of teeth. Permanently affixed to your jaw with titanium screws, they will not shift or slip and do not put unwanted pressure on your gums. Eating and biting are much more comfortable, as they act just as natural teeth do.
Implant Components - What makes up a Dental Implant?
- Implant Fixture. The implant fixture is the primary component and is an artificial tooth root. It is made of biocompatible materials and, in many cases, titanium. The fixture is surgically placed into the jawbone, providing stability and an anchor for all other components.
- Abutment. The abutment is a connector attached to the implant fixture. It protrudes above the gum line and supports the dental prosthesis (such as a crown, bridge, or denture). Abutments are produced from different materials, including titanium, zirconia, or gold.
- Crown or Prosthesis. The crown or prosthesis is the visible part of the dental implant and serves as the replacement tooth. It is custom-made to match the color, shape, and size of one’s natural teeth.
Crowns are typically made of ceramic or porcelain, fused to metal, providing aesthetics and durability. Remember the pressure that the dental implant, and height or prosthesis in particular, will bear as a function of eating and chewing once an implant procedure has been completed.
- Connector Screw. The connector screw (the prosthetic screw) secures the abutment to the implant fixture. It ensures a stable connection between the abutment and the implant, allowing for the attachment of the crown or prosthesis.
- Healing Cap. After placing the implant fixture, a healing cap or cover screw may be temporarily attached to protect the implant site during the healing process. It helps maintain the shape of the gum tissue around the implant and is later replaced with the abutment.
These are the essential components of a dental implant. However, the specific design and details used may vary depending on the implant system and the patient’s needs. It’s essential to consult with a qualified dentist or oral surgeon to determine the most suitable implant components for your situation.
The Dental Implant Procedure & Recovery
Assuming the tooth – or teeth – being replaced has already been extracted, the next step is placing the artificial tooth root – the implant fixture and anchor. This procedure involves making an incision in the gum tissue to expose the underlying bone and drilling a hole into the jawbone. The implant, usually titanium, is inserted into the hole and secured. Over time, the implant fuses with the jawbone through osseointegration, which provides a stable foundation for the replacement tooth.
After the implant fixture has integrated with the jawbone, a connector piece called an abutment is placed on top of it. The abutment connects the implant to the replacement tooth, which can be a dental crown, bridge, or even a complete denture, depending on the number of missing teeth and your specific needs. The replacement tooth is custom-made to match your natural teeth’s shape, size, and color, ensuring a seamless and natural-looking result.
Are Dental Implants the Right Solution for You?
Dental implants offer numerous advantages compared to other tooth replacement options. They provide excellent stability and function, allowing you to eat, speak, and smile confidently. They also help preserve the jawbone’s integrity by stimulating bone growth and preventing bone loss, a common consequence of missing teeth. Dental implants do not rely on adjacent teeth for support, unlike dental bridges, which makes them generally more durable and long-lasting.
However, it’s important to note that getting dental implants can take several months to complete, as it involves multiple stages and requires time for the implant to integrate with the jawbone. It also requires good oral hygiene practices and regular dental check-ups to ensure the long-term success of the implant.
Why Choose Fairfax Dental Esthetics for Your Dental Implants?
A dental implant is a lifelong solution for tooth loss and replacement. In sustaining each patient, Dr. Sanae Berrada and the dentists at Fairfax Dental Esthetics use only the highest-quality dental implants, which will last time.
Dr. Berrada brings over 20 years of clinical expertise to her work. Throughout her career, she has had extensive training in orthodontics, dental implants, cosmetic dentistry, and general dentistry, and exercises a continued commitment to providing the best possible dental care in our community.
When it comes to continuing education, Dr. Berrada has taken several courses from Dr. Frank Spear of the Seattle Institute for Dental Education. In addition, she has studied implant dentistry at Columbia University in New York.
If you’re considering dental implants, it’s best to consult a qualified dentist or oral surgeon to assess your situation and guide you through the process. Call Fairfax Dental Esthetics to set up your assessment today!