If you have a gap in your smile because of a missing tooth, you should talk to your dentist about getting a dental implant. When you get an implant, your dentist places an artificial tooth in the gap so your smile is restored. The tooth is held by the implant which acts as an artificial root, so your bone stays healthy and the artificial tooth is firm and secure. Here are a few things to know about having a dental implant to replace a single tooth.
Your Other Teeth Are Spared
A dental implant is the closest thing you can get to having a real tooth complete with a root. The alternative is to get a dental bridge. In order to hold the bridge in place, your dentist has to alter the teeth nearby. That means two of your healthy teeth will be filed down and fitted with crowns. This puts those teeth at a higher risk of developing problems in the future. Another drawback of a bridge is that there is no bone stimulation under the artificial tooth, and this may cause your bone to recede.
An implant avoids these problems. Your healthy teeth are spared dental work they don't need, and the implant acts as an artificial root and stimulates your bone every time you chew.
Local Anesthesia Is Sufficient
You may see commercials on television for dental implants that are done under general anesthesia. These are usually for people who get multiple implants for dentures and undergo a long procedure. General anesthesia isn't necessary when you have a single implant. A local anesthetic just like you get for a filling is sufficient. You won't feel pain in your gum or bone as the dentist does the work. However, if you have dental anxiety, you may want to add some sort of sedation to keep you calm. The dentist may give you oral medication, gas inhalation, or IV sedation to make you groggy. You'll still be alert enough to respond, but you'll be relaxed enough to endure dental care without anxiety.
The Process May Require Multiple Steps
There are various methods for putting in dental implants. The location of the missing tooth and the amount of bone you have available are factors your dentist will consider when determining the best type of implant for you. You might have a single stage implant where most of the work is done in a single visit. However, it is also possible your dental implant procedure will require two or three stages spread out over several months. If you don't have enough bone to hold the implant securely, your dentist may need to do a bone graft or sinus lift before the implant is put in. If you have this surgery, you'll need to wait until your bone heals, which could take a few months before you can proceed with the implant.
After your dentist inserts the implant, you'll need to give the implant several weeks or months to fuse with your bone. Once the implant has attached to your bone, you'll need a second surgery to open your gum so the dentist can attach a post to the implant. Then it is ready for the crown. The whole process can take months, but your dentist may be able to fit you with a temporary partial denture or temporary crown to fill the gap while you wait.
The crown that fills the gap in your smile is custom made for you. It matches the size and color of your other teeth so it looks natural. A dental implant not only looks natural, you'll be able to treat it like a natural tooth when it comes to eating and brushing. For further assistance, contact local professionals, such as those from Dental Images.