Dental Implants Can Last a Lifetime
Dental implants, which can be used to replace one tooth or several teeth in the same area of your mouth, have been around a long time. In fact, anthropologists have discovered ancient skulls in which teeth were replaced with other materials, such as sea shells and cast iron.5
Today, the process is much more sophisticated. Modern implant dentistry was born in France about four decades ago.4 Since then, researchers have made great strides, resulting in a procedure with an extremely high success rate.1 The American Association of Maxillofacial Surgeons reports a success rate of 95 percent for dental implants.1
Many patients with dental implants find them to be more comfortable, natural and secure than fixed bridges or removable dentures. Unlike fixed bridges and removable dentures, dental implants don’t need to be replaced. If properly cared for, dental implants can last a lifetime.1
The basics of implant surgery haven’t changed much in decades, but the materials dental professionals use have improved markedly. Titanium is now the material of choice for implants. Both lightweight and strong, titanium is also compatible with body tissue.5
An implant is usually comprised of three parts:
A titanium screw that is implanted in the empty bone space, below the gum line
A post, or abutment
The crown, or prosthetic tooth1,5
Because they attach to the jawbone, implants do not move or click and do not need to be removed for cleaning.3 Implants also offer the added benefit of preventing bone loss under the missing tooth.6
An implant is completed in a couple of steps. First, the implant is surgically placed into the jaw, covered with gum tissue and allowed to heal for up to six months. During this time, the implant fuses with the bone, creating a stable base.2,3
Depending on the implant, a second surgery may be needed to secure a post onto the implant. Some implants have a post already attached when they are first placed in the jaw. Once the gums have healed, a custom artificial tooth is fitted onto the top of the post. 2,3 Most of the time, the surgery is done with local anesthesia in your dental professional’s office.6
Right for You?
If you have a badly damaged or missing tooth, you may be a candidate for an implant. Talk with your dental professional to learn if implants are an option for you.
1 “Dental Implants.” The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, 2005. https://www.aaoms.org/dental_implants.php Accessed 2010.
2 “Dental Implants: FAQ.” American Dental Association, March 14, 2005. www.ada.org/2696.aspx?currentTab=2 Accessed 2010.
3 “Dental Implants: An Option for Replacing Missing Teeth” American Dental Association. Journal of the American Dental Association, February 2005, Vol. 136. www.ada.org/sections/scienceAndResearch/pdfs/patient_47.pdf Accessed 2010.
4 “History of Dentistry.” American Dental Association, March 14, 2005. www.ada.org/351.aspx Accessed 2010.
5 “Dental Implants—The tooth replacement solution.” International Congress of Oral Implantologists. www.icoi.org/patient-ed.html Accessed 2010.