Dental implants are considered the gold standard for replacing a missing tooth or teeth. The implant itself consists of a titanium screw that is surgically inserted through the gums and into the jawbone itself. This offers an attachment point for a number of prosthetic devices.
The most common attachment by far is a single dental crown, so much that a crown attached to an implant as a combined unit is often simply labelled ‘an implant’. An implant-supported crown is similar in construction and material to a natural tooth-supported crown. This configuration is the replacement option for a missing tooth that is most similar to a natural tooth: the implant mimics the roots of a natural tooth, while the crown mimics the tooth portion that is visible.
Other implant attachments include implant-supported bridges, again similar in design to natural tooth-supported bridges. At the extreme end of the spectrum, 4 strategically placed implants can replace a full jaw of 12 missing teeth. This is colloquially known as an ‘all-on-4’, and offers a more stable alternative to a full denture.
Implants are usually placed in several stages, allowing the dentist to monitor the success of each stage before building on top of it with the next. The implant screw itself is placed in the initial surgery and allowed to heal. A second surgery is then needed to attach a post, properly known as an abutment, to the implant. This serves as the attachment point for the final prosthetic device. This device, whether it is a single crown or an all-on-4 is placed once the success of the previous stages has been confirmed.
Implants require careful maintenance as they involve attaching an artificial object directly to the bone. A healthy implant fuses with the bone, but an unhealthy one may be rejected as a foreign object. Meticulous oral hygiene is a must when an implant has been placed in order to prevent implant-related diseases. Our dentists also recommend that you have your implants examined and cleaned every 6 months to prevent any problems from arising.