Saturday, June 4, 2011

Single and Multiple Tooth Replacements

Dental implants are a technology the gives you a permanent tooth. A titanium screw is drilled into the jaw bone where the old tooth used to be. As the bone heals, it grows in and around the screw, essentially creating a new root for a tooth. The healing process after this surgery can take from two to six months. The lengthy healing time is important because it allows the bone to adhere firmly to the screw, thus preventing it from moving after the tooth is attached to it and begins to be used. After the bone is healed, a new porcelain tooth is attached to the titanium screw. Made of an extremely strong and durable metal called titanium, the single tooth dental implant will stabilize your bite, help prevent possible speaking or chewing difficulties and maintain your beautiful smile.

Missing teeth can change the alignment of your bite, which may cause jaw joint discomfort. In addition, your surrounding teeth can shift which may create spaces where harmful plaque and tartar collect. Over time, this may lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

 Single Tooth Dental Implants May Be the Answer

Single and multiple tooth dental implants are crafted to look and feel like your natural tooth. It can be used in either the upper or lower jaw, where it functions either as a single tooth or as an anchor for other replacement teeth. Because the single tooth implant can stand alone, no adjacent teeth are affected during any part of treatment.

What to Expect During an Implant Treatment

The time frame for completing the dental implant treatment varies and depends on many factors but you can expect the process to take several months.

First, we conduct a comprehensive exam and review your medical and dental history, take X-rays, and create impressions of your teeth and gums so that models can be made. In some cases, we may even order a CT (computerized tomography) scan of your mouth and jaw area which will help us develop our treatment plan.

During your initial treatment, we surgically insert the dental implant into your jaw, which will act as the “root” of your new tooth, then give it several months to attach itself to your jaw bone. There may be some swelling or tenderness for a few days, so a diet of soft foods, cold foods and warm soup often is recommended during the first few days of the healing process.

The next step is when we attach an extension, called a"post abutment" to the implant and again, the gum tissue is given some time to heal around the new post or abutment. Once the area is completely healed, the implant and post will serve as the foundation for your new tooth.

As a last step, we’ll attach a custom-made porcelain tooth called a "crown" which will be a size, shape, and color that will fill the space left in your mouth by the missing tooth and blend with your surrounding teeth.

Caring for Your Implants

At first, you will need to have checkups every three months, but eventually you can reduce your dental visits to every six months. Studies have shown that dental implants can last as long as 25 years. So remember - care for your dental implants the same way you care for your natural teeth - brush and floss daily.

As always, proper diet, good oral hygiene and regular dental visits are the keys to extending the life of your dental implant and your winning smile.

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