It is important to replace missing teeth in order to preserve your oral health. To support a tooth replacement, your dentist may need to place a dental implant. Here, our Kelowna dentists explain the dental implant procedure.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that your dentist surgically places into your jaw bone to support a tooth replacement, such as a dental crown, dental bridge, or dentures.
Together, the artificial "root" and the tooth replacement look and act very much like a natural tooth.
A dental implant has two pieces: a titanium rod that is placed into the jaw bone and functions like the root of the tooth, and an abutment that screws into the rod, and ultimately supports the artificial tooth replacement.
The Dental Implant Procedure
Typically, the dental implant procedure will take two appointments to complete. During the first visit, your dentist will surgically place the titanium rod into your jaw bone beneath the gum tissue. Using a local anesthetic, they will numb your mouth so you do not feel any pain during the procedure. If dental procedures make you nervous or anxious, you can speak with your dentist to see if dental sedation might be an option for you.
As the tissue heals, the implant will bond with the bone and attach to the gum. The healing process normally takes 4 -6 months. Once your gum tissue has healed, you will return to your dentist and they will complete the process by attaching your artificial tooth to the implant.
This procedure will result in an artificial tooth that looks and functions much like a natural tooth.
In cases where there might not be enough jaw bone volume to support an implant, bone graft surgery may be required before the implant procedure can start.
Why use a dental implant?
If you're missing one or more teeth, dental implants can be used to address a number of issues and protect your oral health.
By using a dental implant and a tooth replacement such as a dental bridge, dental crown or dentures, you can prevent surrounding teeth from shifting, restore any jaw pain or correct bite issues, and even improve chewing, speech, and digestion. Having this procedure can also help avoid the appearance of a 'sunken face' that can often occur with missing teeth.
Wondering whether you'll be able to chew normally? Typically, chewing has been shown to improve after treatment. After a brief period of adapting to your new implants, chewing efficiency for most patients is similar to that of natural teeth.
How long will my dental implant last?
When cared for properly, a dental implant can last for 25 years or more. It will be essential to practice proper at-home oral care, including brushing and flossing and to schedule regular dental exams and cleanings with your dentist. Other factors that can impact the longevity of dental implants include nutrition, genetics, or the development of any dental diseases.