The best way to describe a dental implant is by comparison to the natural tooth. A natural tooth consists of a root and a crown. The visible part of the tooth used for chewing is called the crown. Below the crown is the root canal, which holds the crown in place and is located within the jawbone. When a natural tooth is lost, both the crown and the root are lost. In order to replace it with a functioning tooth, a substitute root must first be fixed in place. Fundamentally, a dental implant is the new root. This “root” is fitted into the jawbone and thus replaces the missing natural root.
Dental implants come in all shapes, sizes and surface types. The selection of the most suitable implant depends on a range of factors relating to the treatment your jaw needs. Once the implant is inserted into the jaw, the surrounding bone usually requires a period of healing that is dependent on the strength of the supporting bone. Once healing is complete, a suitable structure is attached (usually by screwing into place) to provide support for the new crown or replacement tooth that will be fitted onto this structure.
Dental implants can act as supports to remedy the lack of one or more teeth. After many years of research and work, dental implants can now offer rehabilitation for almost any problem involving missing teeth, instead of or in addition to the options described below. The tooth supported by the implant (rehabilitation) can be glued or screwed into place or be removable, but all in a way that is stable and comfortable for the patient.
In the first stage, the surgeon drills into the jaw and inserts the implant. A number of implants can be done at the same time, or at different stages (depending on their location and the treatment plan). After the implant, there is a waiting period of a few months so that the implants can fuse with the bone.
During this period, patients will be fitted with temporary removable dentures or a temporary bridge so that they can continue living normally. They must come for observation to enable the physician to check that the implant is healing properly and prevent any complications.
*The second stage – exposing the implants: patients are not required to take any drugs before this surgical procedure (done under local anesthetic). First a panoramic X-ray of the mouth is taken. About 3 weeks later, it is possible to continue to the next stage – with your dentist – and this is the rehabilitation stage. The rehabilitation work involves the physician fitting a crown, bridge or denture, followed by a series of appointments during which the physician takes imprints and measurements of the mouth in order to adjust the replacement teeth at various stages of their manufacture. These sessions are essential to ensure that the new teeth are a match in every respect – size, shape, color and location – for the healthy teeth and the unique structure of each patient’s mouth.
*Sometimes, implants are left exposed with temporary healing covers. In this case the surgical stage to expose the implants is not needed, all that is required is a check after the proper X-ray is