There are many options available to help replace a missing tooth, perhaps the best option is dental implants. When a tooth is lost, and the roots need to be replaced, a dental implant acts as new titanium roots. This small post anchors a dental crown which has been made using impressions specifically for the patient. This crown is now the visible part of the tooth. These implants can prevent additional problems such as jawbone tissue loss, grind and clenching teeth, shift teeth, difficulty keeping teeth clean, and pain in the jaw joints.
Frequently, a side effect of losing a tooth is shrinking of the jawbone and gum tissue surrounding the gap. This is due to lack of stimulation. Losing a tooth can also affect the person’s bite, changing how he or she can chew food. The opposite tooth can also begin to extend down from the socket, and the neighboring teeth can start to shift into the gap. These areas can allow plaque and bacteria to build up because they are hard to clean. As a result, tooth decay and gum disease often develop. Grinding and clenching, even TMJ disorders, can also occur when excess pressure is put on the shifted teeth.
Dental implants are installed in three visits. During the first appointment, the titanium post is installed. Then, several weeks are allowed to pass, so the dental post has time to fuse with the jawbone. During the second visit, an abutment will be fastened to the top of the post. This special piece allows the post to be secured to the crown. An impression of the gap is made and sent to a dental lab. When the crown is finished, it is attached to the post using the abutment and buffed to lie evenly with the neighboring teeth.
Patients need to brush and floss the crown, just as they would a normal tooth. This ensures that food remnants, plaque, and bacteria are cleaned away.
As long as patients practice good oral hygiene and visit the dentist at least every six months, the implants should last them a lifetime.
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