Dental Implants: What They Are and How They Function

Do you often find yourself covering your mouth when laughing due to missing teeth? Or do you struggle while enjoying your favorite food due to a wobbly denture? You’re definitely not alone. Dental implants are a popular teeth replacement option for those who’ve experienced tooth loss.

But what are dental implants, and how do they work? In this article, we’ll answer these questions and more, giving you a comprehensive understanding of dental implants and how they could restore your smile.

What Are Dental Implants?

Artificial tooth roots, or dental implants, offer a stable foundation for fixed or removable replacement teeth. They’re made of biocompatible materials, like titanium, that your body accepts without adverse effects. These implants are designed to mimic the function and appearance of your natural teeth, allowing for optimal performance in eating, speaking, and smiling confidently. With the proper care and a customized treatment plan, dental implants can serve as a great, long-term solution to dental problems.

What Does Dental Implants Look Like?

A dental implant resembles a natural tooth in many ways, virtually indistinguishable from your real teeth. And if you’re wondering, “What are dental implants made of?” They usually consist of three components:

Implant Body (Metal Post)

This part of the dental implant is inserted into your jawbone and acts as the artificial tooth root. It’s made of titanium and looks like a small screw. It’s not visible once your dental implant procedure is complete, as it becomes buried in the jawbone.

Abutment

This small component connects the implant body to the dental crown. It typically has a cylindrical shape, like a small cap. Depending on the design of your dental implants, this part may be visible when you smile or open your mouth, but most designs aim to have this obscured by the dental crown.

Dental Crown (Prosthetic Tooth)

The dental crown is the part of the implant visible in your mouth—the part that prompts the question, “What do dental implants look like?” They’re designed to look just like real teeth and maintain the allure of a natural smile. Dental crowns are usually made of porcelain or similar material and are custom-made to match the color, shape, and size of your other teeth, further enhancing their natural appearance.

How Do Dental Implants Work?

Now that you know what dental implants are and what they look like, let’s discuss how they work. The dental implant process involves several steps:

Step 1: Initial Consultation

The first step towards a beautiful smile starts with a consultation with an oral surgeon. During this visit, an experienced team of professionals will assess your oral health status, along with factors like bone density and other health conditions that could potentially impact the successful insertion of dental implants.

Step 2: Placement

Once the treatment plan is done, the oral surgeon will begin the surgical procedure. Dental implants, typically made of titanium, are carefully inserted into the jawbone, serving as an artificial tooth root. Usually performed under local or general anesthesia, this procedure is the first step toward a durable replacement tooth.

Step 3: Osseointegration

The implant doesn’t settle in immediately; instead, it undergoes osseointegration. Over several weeks to months, the bone grows around the dental implant, securing it firmly in place. This phase might take time, but the solid foundation it forms is essential for the implant’s stability and longevity.

Step 4: Abutment Attachment

Once osseointegration has been successful, the oral surgeon attaches an extension piece, known as an abutment, to the implant. The abutment acts as a connector, bridging the implant and the artificial tooth (crown).

Step 5: Crown Placement

After the gum tissue surrounding the abutment heals, you move to the final step—setting the crown. For the crown to blend in perfectly with your smile, the dentist creates it to match the color and shape of your teeth.

What Advantages Do Dental Implants Offer?

Improved Appearance

Dental implants are custom-designed to match your natural teeth, giving them a realistic appearance that enhances your smile. Over time, they fuse with the jawbone, becoming part of your mouth structure. This natural-looking solution maintains the shape of your face, making you look youthful and confident. The implants feel just like your own teeth, further adding to the sense of authenticity. Thus, dental implants can significantly enhance your appearance and your self-esteem.

Easier Eating

Missing teeth or sliding dentures can make eating a frustrating and often painful experience. Dental implants function like your own teeth, bringing back the joy of eating. Whether biting into a crunchy apple or savoring a steak, you can enjoy your favorite foods without fear. There’s no need to worry about your teeth moving or dentures slipping out of place. This can make meal times much more enjoyable and stress-free.

Durability and Longevity

A long-term investment in your oral health is dental implants. Unlike other tooth replacement alternatives that may need replacement or repair over time, dental implants are meant to last a lifetime when properly cared for. They are made from robust, high-quality materials that withstand daily wear and tear. Because they integrate with your jawbone, they offer stability that other options cannot. This durability and longevity make dental implants a cost-effective and reliable solution.

Enhanced Self-Esteem

Missing teeth can often lead to embarrassment or a lack of self-confidence. Dental implants offer a secure and natural-looking solution, allowing you to laugh, smile, and speak in public without feeling self-conscious. With a new set of teeth, you can feel more comfortable in social situations and experience an enhanced sense of self-esteem. One of the major benefits of dental implants is the positive effect they have on your emotional health.

Prevent Bone Loss

Loss of teeth frequently results in a reduction in jaw bone mass, as the bone needs pressure from chewing to maintain its density. Dental implants mimic the purpose of natural tooth roots, reintroducing these forces and stimulating bone growth. This can help arrest and even reverse bone loss in the jaw, ensuring you maintain a robust, healthy jawbone. Therefore, dental implants do more than just replace missing teeth; they also preserve your oral health.

Convenience

Dental implants offer the ultimate convenience, freeing you from the discomfort and hassle of removable dentures. You won’t need to worry about using messy adhesives to keep your artificial teeth in place or removing your dentures to sleep or clean. This makes it possible for you to brush and floss as usual, simplifying dental hygiene considerably.

Are Dental Implants Right for You?

  • Are in Good Overall Health. A person undergoing dental implant surgery must have healthy gums and a strong immune system to heal properly.
  • Have Adequate Bone Density. Enough jawbones must be present for the implants to be properly anchored. If the bone density is not optimal, a bone graft may be necessary before implant placement.
  • Are Non-Smokers. Smoking can impede the healing process and decrease the success rate of implant surgery, leading to an increased risk of implant failures.
  • Maintain Good Oral Hygiene. After the implant procedure, maintaining the health of the implant and the neighboring teeth requires practicing proper oral hygiene.
  • Are Committed to Regular Dental Checkups. Frequent dental checkups will contribute to the dental implants’ long-term durability.
  • Do Not Have Chronic Diseases. Medical conditions such as untreated diabetes or cancer can hinder the healing process after surgery.

How Do You Ensure the Success of Your Dental Implants?

  • Primary Care Provider and Experienced Surgeon. Your primary care provider should be informed about your dental implant plans. This is important, especially if you have systemic conditions like diabetes or certain autoimmune disorders. An experienced surgeon can assess your overall health conditions before proceeding with this treatment.
  • Pre-Operative and Post-Operative Instructions. Understand and strictly follow your dentist’s instructions before and after the implant surgery. This may include specific dietary guidelines or medication regimens.
  • Good Oral Hygiene. Maintain good oral hygiene practices, including brushing and flossing twice daily, and use interdental brushes or other aids to clean those hard-to-reach areas around the implant. Having dental implants professionally cleaned periodically helps remove plaque and calculus that regular home care might not remove completely.
  • Regular Dental Check-Ups and Follow-Up Visits. Regular visits to your dentist will ensure early detection of any potential issues. Your dentist can also keep track of the health of the gums and bone tissue surrounding the implants. Additionally, follow-up visits are crucial after the implant procedure to check its integration with your jawbone and any potential complications.
  • Healthy Diet. Eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help maintain the health of your gums and remaining natural teeth. Furthermore, sticking to a diet with foods that are not overly hard or sticky can reduce unnecessary stress on the implants.
  • Avoid Damaging Habits. Try to avoid habits that can harm your dental implants. These include smoking, chewing on hard items such as ice or hard candy, and grinding or clenching your teeth. If you grind your teeth, it’s best to consult your dentist because this can seriously harm your dental implants.

Become the Best Version of Your Smile—Inquire About Dental Implants Today

Dental implants are a confidence-boosting solution to tooth loss because they resemble the structure and appearance of natural teeth. The process can seem overwhelming, but we at Willowgreen Dental are ready to walk you through every step.

Ready to take a step towards a complete smile? Contact us today to learn more about how dental implants can benefit you. Take control of your oral health and regain your beautiful smile with us! Remember, a brighter, healthier smile is just one call away.