What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants in Rockford IL are an effective, modern means of tooth replacement that has been around since the early 1960s. Typically made of titanium but also available in zirconia for those who have metal allergies, dental implants are an alternative to conventional dentures that are more reliable and long-lasting. In part, this is because dental implants replace the whole tooth, both above and below the gums, while conventional dentures simply replace the crown that lies above the gum line. This fuller form of replacement makes dental implants more like the natural teeth they replace, from function all the way to appearance.
The most common kind of dental implants is the endosteal implant. Endosteal implants are composed of a simple but effective three-part system, the first of which is surgically embedded into the jaw. This implant fixture, as it is called, is what stands in for the roots of the prosthetic tooth and what gives dental implants their enviable strength.
After the implant fixture is placed, it must be allowed to heal for a period of two to four months before the final two parts – the prosthetic crown and the small connecting piece that joins it with the implant fixture – can be attached. Going forward, the prosthetic tooth or teeth operates much as natural teeth do, and can last for decades if cared for properly.
While endosteal implants are a good solution for a wide variety of patients, it is imperative that a baseline amount of healthy bone mass be available in the jaw for this type of implant to be successful. For patients who do not have enough healthy bone mass, such as those who are replacing teeth that have been missing for some time, it may be necessary to undergo bone grafting to generate more bone tissue before moving forward with endosteal implants.
For those who do not have an adequate amount of healthy bone tissue in the jaw, who prefer to forego the bone grafting necessary for the procedure to be successful, or who simply prefer not to undergo the long initial healing process that the placement of endosteal implants require, subperiosteal implants may provide a good alternative.
Rather than being inserted into the jaw, subperiosteal implants rest on top of the jaw below the surface of the gums, where they eventually fuse with the jaw via a process called osseointegration. Subperiosteal implants, like endosteal implants, do require surgery; in this case, there are two surgical interventions required. The first includes the opening of the gums so that an impression of the jaw can be taken where the missing teeth are located; the second includes the placement of the base prosthesis to which prosthetic crowns or appliances can later be attached.
Caring for Dental Implants
Aside from the initial healing phases, during which your dentist or oral surgeon will provide you with detailed at-home care instructions, caring for dental implants – both endosteal and subperiosteal – is as simple as taking care of your natural teeth. By maintaining a good oral hygiene routine, visiting your dentist twice a year, and otherwise avoiding damaging habits like using tobacco and drinking excessively, you will likely be able to enjoy the benefits of your dental implants over the course of decades.
For more information about how dental implants can have a positive impact on your daily life, give our office a call today.