These days we live longer than ever: our teeth haven’t been designed to last as long as nearly hundred years. Prior measures taken to repair teeth, such as fillings and root canal treatments, impair the durability of the teeth significantly. If damaged teeth have to be extracted, the tooth row can be refilled with dental implants.
What are dental implants?
A dental implant is an artificial root in the shape of a screw which is surgically placed on the jawbone. Inside the dental implant there are spirals which enable attaching a new tooth crown to the artificial root. The new tooth is permanently attached to the mouth and functions like natural teeth.
The implant is generally made from titanium: the same material that is used in many other prostheses of the body as well, such as in hip or knee prostheses. The special feature of titanium as a material is bone growth on the surface of the material (osseointegration).
An ideal patient for dental implants is non-smoking, takes good care of oral health and regularly attends maintenance treatment, who does not show signs of gum diseases and who, after dental extraction, has enough of their own bone left for the implant.
How many dental implants are needed?
Implants offer diverse options for replacing missing teeth. One missing tooth is fixed with one tooth. Two missing teeth can in some instances be fixed with one implant to which two teeth are attached to. Three missing teeth can be replaced by two implants on which three teeth are attached to (a dental implant bridge).
If several teeth in a row are missing, with a few strategically correctly placed implants on which teeth are constructed, extensive deficiencies can be fixed. If you have lost all your teeth, the lack of teeth can be replaced by a bridge the length of the whole jaw or with a total prosthesis of toothless jaw that is attached to a few implants but is detachable.
Replacing bone defects
A dental implant is attached to a bone and therefore bone is required. Teeth maintain the width and thickness of the jawbone. Because of dental extraction, some bone loss always happens. There is often enough bone for an implant, but sometimes a bone graft is necessary in order to perform artificial tooth root treatment. In augmentation, the quantity of bone can be increased using artificial bone, by transferring the patient’s bone from another place or by combining the two.
Aftercare of dental implants
The implant is taken care of in the same manner as one’s own teeth after the treatment. They require brushing twice a day and the use of dental floss. Just like your own teeth, the better you take care of the implant, the longer they will last, possibly even for the rest of your life.