A bright, white smile is a sign of youth and health. However, around 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth, and approximately 40 million Americans are missing all of their teeth.
If you’re missing a tooth or several teeth, it doesn’t just affect your smile and confidence. Your teeth are critical to protecting your oral and dental health. Dental implants mimic natural teeth, which makes them an excellent option for replacing your missing tooth or teeth. A dental implant consists of:
- A titanium post that’s surgically implanted in your jaw
- A dental crown that’s custom made to look like your remaining natural teeth
- An abutment to connect the post and the crown
Your teeth help you chew and eat. They help you talk. Your teeth also help keep each other in place and facing the right direction. And, perhaps most importantly, the roots of your teeth stimulate healthy bone growth in your jaw. Healthy bone development maintains a stable and secure foundation for the rest of your teeth as well as your facial shape.
What are the benefits of dental implants?
As mentioned, dental implants act like natural teeth, so they provide a wide range of benefits. For example, the posts stimulate healthy bone development in your jaw. This helps preserve your facial shape as well as preventing future tooth loss.
Dental implants are securely bonded to your jaw. They allow you to bite and chew so that you don’t need to give up any of your favorite foods. Dental implants are also easy to get used to, and you don’t need to practice talking or eating as you do with dentures.
Speaking of dentures, with dental implants, you don’t need to deal with messy, sticky adhesives or cumbersome cleaning routines. You simply brush your dental implants with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a nonabrasive toothpaste. You still need to floss at least once a day and continue to have routine dental exams. While your dental implants aren’t vulnerable to tooth decay, your remaining natural teeth can still decay, and you can still develop gum disease.
What’s the process to get dental implants?
Your oral surgeon and dentist collaborate to install your dental implants. In most cases, you need several appointments to complete the process. Your oral surgeon begins the implantation process with a thorough exam including X-rays and a bone scan to ensure your jaw is strong enough to support your implants. If necessary, your oral surgeon at California Oral and Facial Surgery can perform a bone grafting procedure to strengthen your jaw.
When your oral surgeon is satisfied that your jaw is strong enough to support an implant, they surgically place the post(s) in your jaw. Over the next few months, your implant posts bond with your jaw bone in a process called osseointegration.
During your next appointment, your oral surgeon attaches your abutments and takes pictures and molds of your mouth. He sends this information to your regular dentist who works with a dental lab to design and manufacture your crowns to fit your mouth precisely. Finally, your dentist attaches your crowns, checks your bite and polishes your dental implants until they shine like natural teeth.
If you’re missing a tooth or teeth, contact California Oral and Facial Surgery to find out if dental implants are right for you.