What Are Dental Implants?
A natural tooth consists of a root and a crown. If you compare natural teeth to implant-supported replacement teeth, you’ll see they have the same basic parts. Both have a crown (the visible part used to chew food). Both have a root that holds the tooth securely under the gum and is anchored into the jaw. The difference is that the implant is made of titanium – the same time-tested material used by surgeons for artificial joints. When you lose a tooth, you lose both the root and the crown. To replace the tooth, the surgeon first replaces the root with a small dental implant.
Time is allowed for bone to heal and grow around the dental implant. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. A support post (abutment) is then placed on the implant and a new replacement tooth (crown) is placed on top of the abutment. If all of your teeth are missing, a variety of treatment options are available to support the replacement teeth.
“Don’t Be Afraid to Smile!”
For years I’d felt like a part of my body was missing … because my teeth were. My dentist told me that dental implants would make me feel and look a lot better. OK, I said. Now, I’m thrilled. I can smile, eat anything, and enjoy a good laugh with my friends.
Dental implant placement is a team effort between a periodontist or an oral surgeon and the restorative dentist. Dr. Westbrook performs the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary. The restorative dentist (your dentist) fits and makes the permanent prosthesis(crowns, bridges or dentures). Your dentist will also make any temporary prostheses needed during the implant healing process.