Single-tooth implants are used in patients who are missing one or more teeth. A tooth implant is surgically placed in an opening in the jawbone. Once the implant attaches (integrates) to the bone, it will act as a new root for the crown. The crown is used to replace the missing tooth.
The crown (cap) resembles the natural tooth and is attached to the implant to fill the space left by the missing tooth. For the procedure to work, enough bone in the jaw must be present. If there is not enough bone, bone grafting or bone augmentation may be performed.
The Tooth Implant Process
Timeframe for the completion of the implant and the crown will depend on several factors. When the traditional method is employed, the shortest timeframe to complete the procedure is around 5 months if in the lower jaw and 6 months in the upper jaw.
The time frame includes surgeries involved as well as the placement of the permanent crown. However, in instances where the bone has to be built up first, the procedure can take at least a year (or more).
Traditionally, two procedures are done, with 3 to 6 months in between them. The first procedure will involve making a small incision in the gum where the implant will be placed. A hole will be drilled in the bone where the implant will be placed and the incision is stitched closed after.
After the healing period, the second procedure will be carried out. A healing cap (also known as the collar) is screwed onto the top of the implant. It will help the surrounding gum tissue to heal. The healing cap will be removed a few weeks after. The abutment is then screwed into the implant so it can support the crown.
Before any work is done, a comprehensive examination is performed. The medical and dental history will also be looked into. X-rays might also be taken to make impressions of the gums and teeth so models can be created.
When needed, computed tomography (CT) scan of the mouth will be requested. The scan can help the dentist gauge the jawbone available and if it can hold the implants in place. It will also show the location of sinuses and nerves so they can be avoided once the surgery is carried out.
Caring for Tooth Implants
Caring for implants is fortunately easy and straightforward and won’t entail anything out of the extraordinary. Just look after your dental implants like you would after your natural teeth. Always observe proper brushing and flossing techniques. If you notice any problems, visit your dentist right away so any issues are taken care of accordingly and immediately.
Tooth implants are designed to work and look like natural teeth. In rare cases however, an implant will not look exactly like the natural teeth as it will be inserted at a different angle, depending on the amount of bone available and the amount needed to place the implant properly. Implants however are known to be durable with most of them lasting as long as 25 years.