Dental implants have changed the way we do dentistry. Whether you have lost one tooth or multiple teeth, are twenty years old or eighty, it is likely that a tooth replacement option for you involves dental implants.
Traditionally, replacing a single missing tooth has required fabricating a three-unit prosthesis called a "bridge." This involves cutting into the adjacent teeth and requiring them to bear the load that will be placed on the new prosthesis. Before the introduction of dental implants back in the 80's, this was really the only reliable option for replacing a single tooth.
Although there is no perfect substitute for a natural tooth, implants have presented an option which is clearly the next best thing. It is a stand-alone restoration, which means that we do not have to touch the adjacent, healthy teeth.
So what is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a post that is surgically embedded in the jaw. For patients who have lost a single tooth, an implant can serve as an anchor, or root replacement, for a new tooth. In cases where multilple teeth are missing, implants can be used to stabilize a removable denture. In the initial stage, a dental implant is placed in the healthy jaw, which then will need to heal for 3-6 months. This ensures that the implant will hold up under the forces of chewing. After the appropriate healing period, the implant is ready to receive a post and crown. These are the components that are visible above the gum-line, what we consider to be the "functional" part of the tooth for chewing. The implant tooth then acts as any other natural tooth and should be brushed and flossed regularly.
If you are interested in learning more about dental implants, please don't hesitate to call our office. Yelm Dental offers a wide-range of dental implant services and Dr. Smith and Dr. Kay would be happy to answer any additional questions you might have.