A gap in your smile left by a lost tooth is never something a person wants to deal with. Not only can it make you self-conscious, but it can also negatively affect the health of your mouth. From the office of your restorative dentist, Dr. William K. Witson, DMD in St. Louis, MO, learn about dental implants and how they can restore your smile.
Dental implants are a fixed restoration designed to replace one or more natural teeth. They consist of three separate parts: the post, the abutment, and the crown.
The post, which is made of titanium, is implanted under the jawbone during a minor in-office surgical procedure. While the surgery site heals within a week, it will take several months before the post fuses with the jawbone and becomes stable enough to support the rest of the implant.
The second section, the abutment, is a tiny cylindrical piece of metal that is attached to the post. It protrudes above the gum line, allowing the final portion of the implant, the crown, to be affixed on top. Crowns are made from porcelain and carefully designed to match the color and size of the patient's other teeth. Once a dental implant is finished, it will be difficult to distinguish the restoration from the remaining natural teeth.
Multiple teeth can be attached to a single implant; this cuts back on cost and recovery after placement. In the case of full mouth restoration, denture plates can be attached to a full set of implants on both the upper and lower gum ridges.
When fitted together, each portion of a dental implant replicates the structure of a natural tooth, providing the patient with stability and longevity unlike any other dental restoration available. The posts stimulate the jawbone to continue growing; without teeth, the bone can recede and become weakened. Implants also keep the remaining natural teeth stable by filling in gaps and providing support for the teeth that surround them.
Dental implants are particularly appealing to both St. Louis patients and dental professionals because of the ease of care involved. They can be brushed and flossed like natural teeth and do not require removal like dentures or partials. Practicing good oral hygiene and staying regular on checkups with dentists means that dental implants can last a lifetime.