Dentures and partial dentures–often called “partials”–used to be the only alternative to replacing missing teeth. Thanks to the modern medical marvels of dental implants, one tooth or a few teeth can be easily implanted without needing the large and often cumbersome dentures.
Dental implants are small synthetics, usually metal or ceramic, placed in the gums where the root would normally be. The dentist anchors the implant to the jawbone itself or to metal framework on the jawbone, which creates a foundation for placing an artificial tooth or a dental bridge. Implants can even anchor dentures in some cases.
Due to the nature and design of the implants, they look and feel like natural teeth. Only a dentist can distinguish the difference between the implants and your other teeth.
Dental Implant Procedure
A dental implant does require surgery–which yes, includes anesthesia–to prepare the gum region for the implant and place it correctly. It does take some time for the implant to properly anchor and for the bone to build up around the implant, tightly securing it. In some instances, metal posts will have to be inserted into the implant during a follow-up visit to connect a tooth to it. Antibiotics are often prescribed at the time of the surgery to ward off any potential infections.
Before you talk to your dentist about receiving a dental implant, note that not everyone is a candidate for the procedure. Patients must have both a healthy bone density and a strong immune system. Otherwise, the dental implants will not successfully take root in your mouth.
You should always practice strict oral hygiene, but those with dental implants need to be even more diligent than the average person. Since dental implants are not living tissue, they will not last a lifetime, but you can increase their lifespans with proper dental care.