A dental implant is an artificial tooth, or crown, that uses a metal post or “root” to attach firmly to the jaw bone. The crown can be custom tinted and shaped to look just like a natural tooth, and it attaches firmly to the post using a special piece called an abutment. Dental implants can be cared for just like your own natural teeth, making them a very popular alternative to dentures and bridges.
Because they “fit” in your mouth like your natural teeth and can be cared for with regular brushing, flossing and routine dental checkups, implants are often preferred by many patients. Plus, there is no danger of embarrassing slippage and they do not cause sore spots. Perhaps most importantly, dental implant posts help stimulate the natural bone replacement cycle in the jaw so optimal oral health is maintained. Dentures and bridges rest on top of the gums and do not play a role in jaw bone replacement. As a result, over time the bone will atrophy and additional tooth loss may occur.
Implants take three visits to complete in most cases. At your first office visit, the post will be implanted in your jaw. If the bone has already begun to atrophy or if there isn't enough natural bone to support the post, a bone graft may be performed at the same time using your own bone or donor bone. The post and graft are left to fuse with the jaw for several weeks. At the second appointment, the abutment will be attached and an impression will be made and sent to the lab where your crown will be created. At the third appointment, the crown will be adhered to the abutment and then gently polished and buffed so it feels completely comfortable.
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