Missing a tooth isn’t just bad for your looks; it can be bad for your health as well! Healthy teeth play an important role in the body from head to toe. When you are missing one, your jawbone deteriorates, your self-esteem suffers and so does your diet, which negatively affects the health of your entire body. Dental implants look, feel and function just like natural teeth and are widely recognized as the best replacement method.
The Miracle of Osseointegration (How Dental Implants Work)
Our bodies are truly amazing – their ability to coexist with a variety of native and foreign materials means that our treatment options, as oral surgeons, are constantly expanding. “Osseointegration” refers to the fusing of bone with an artificial material. Its origins date back to the 1940s and 50s, when Swedish physician Per-Ingvar Branemark discovered that titanium fuses so well with a bone that it is nearly impossible to remove! Since then, the biocompatibility of titanium has proven itself to be amazingly reliable over and over again.
What is a dental implant?
Dental implants are made of titanium. A completed implant includes three pieces: the implant itself (a titanium screw that is placed in the jawbone), the abutment (a connector between the implant and crown) and the crown (the part that is visible and looks like a tooth). Doctor Darius Smith will place the implant and the abutment, and the crown will be completed by your general dentist.
Time is of the Essence
You may be surprised to hear that your jawbone is a lot like a muscle, in that it must be stimulated regularly in order to maintain its volume. Therefore, when a tooth is extracted (or falls out naturally), the jawbone begins to deteriorate almost immediately. In fact, studies show that within a year of tooth loss, there is a 25% decrease in bone width. Thankfully, dental implants can take the place of natural teeth to provide the stimulus needed by the jaw. If done early, this greatly reduces the need for bone grafting down the road.