When Teeth Are Missing
It can be embarrassing to have spaces in your mouth where teeth are missing. But you’re not alone. Some people lose teeth due to injury, tooth decay, or periodontal disease (infection of the gums and bone surrounding teeth). Others may not have had all their teeth grow in. Whatever the reason, dental implants can help replace missing teeth. And implants often feel more natural than dentures and other dental restorations.
Implants Can Help
If you want a dental restoration that looks and feels as though it’s really part of your mouth, dental implants may be right for you. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root. Your jawbone fuses with the implant to provide a secure platform for a prosthesis (artificial tooth). If you are missing many teeth, several implants can be used to support a partial or complete denture.
A Solid Foundation for Implants
Having a healthy mouth is just as important for implants as it is for natural teeth. If you don’t have enough healthy bone or gum tissue in your mouth, you may need a graft before implants can be placed. Grafting helps build a solid foundation for the implants. You’ll probably have to wait for a graft to heal before you can have implant surgery. If you have periodontal disease, it will also need to be treated prior to placing the implants.
Outlining Your Treatment Plan
If you’re a good candidate for implants, the dental team will talk with you about a treatment plan. You’ll also discuss the costs and time that may be involved. Keep in mind, your commitment during the process will be crucial. In many cases it will take at least several months before new prosthetic teeth can be attached to implants. If you need a graft or treatment for periodontal disease, the process is likely to take longer.
Healing Abutments and Final Abutments
Depending on your dental needs, two kinds of abutments may be used. Healing abutments (also called healing cuffs) help gum tissue heal around the implant site. Once the gum has healed, final abutments are placed so the prosthesis can be joined with the implant.