A dental implant is one option available to replace a missing tooth. With this procedure, a small titanium shaft is surgically implanted into the bone and allowed to heal. The bone grows around it forming a tight connection, which additionally slows or stops the bone loss that occurs when the root of a natural tooth is missing.
Once the implant is integrated with the surrounding bone, Dr. Foutz then works to attach the replacement tooth onto the top of the shaft. This permanent solution has advantages over bridge work, because a dental implant does not stress the surrounding teeth for support, and it is brushed and flossed just like a natural tooth. Should the tooth ever have any trouble, a crown can be usually be attached to the same implant.
These surgeons will evaluate the quality and quantity of bone to ensure there is an adequate foundation to safely place an implant in the desired location. Whether the tooth is already missing, or still needs to be extracted, the surgeon can usually prepare the site with any needed bone grafts, then place the implant during the same appointment—all while you are comfortably sleeping.
After the procedure, the implant is left to heal for about three months. It is then evaluated to ensure the bone has successfully grown and healed around the implant, and a crown can be made to fill the empty space.
Implants can also be used to support an implant bridge. This is an alternative to partial dentures, and has several advantages:
- There’s no adjustment period
- Implants slow the bone loss caused by missing teeth
- Patients experience no discomfort or difficulty in eating
- Best of all, they don’t have to be taken out all the time