A dental implant replaces a missing tooth or serves as an anchor for dentures. The device is a metal post which is implanted directly into the jaw providing a synthetic root. Implant posts are frequently made from titanium, a metal which is used in many types of prosthetics including artificial joints. In implant supported bridges and dentures, the post serves as an anchor to keep the denture or bridge securely in place. When replacing a lost tooth, implant abutments are placed on the posts and serve as attachments for artificial teeth or crowns.
Dental implants generally take three visits for proper placement. During the first visit, the post will be implanted into the jaw. A bone graft may be used to augment the bone if the patient’s jaw is not strong enough or big enough to support the implant. If a graft is necessary, it can be placed at the same time as the implant. The second visit will take place a few weeks later to allow time for the post and graft to fuse with the jaw. In the second visit, the abutment will be placed on the post and an impression will be made to serve as a mold for the crown, bridge, or denture. Finally, in the last visit the crown, denture, or bridge will be fitted and attached, which may involve buffing or to create a comfortable fit.
Implants can last as long as, or in some cases longer than natural teeth, with appropriate care. The post and crown can't become decayed, although, the gum surrounding the post can still become infected. Normal care, including brushing flossing and regular visits to the dentist will still be needed to ensure the longevity of your implants and overall oral health.
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