What are dental implants?
They are essentially small little bolts that go in your jaw. They’re usually made out of titanium but sometimes in today’s world they’re being made out of a material called zirconia, which is a wonderful metal free slightly more aesthetic option. All implants have threads on the outside and resemble a tooth root. Most of them have threads on the inside as well and that allows us to attach different things like crowns or denture attachments to them. The majority of dental implants are made out of titanium. Increasingly, there’s more companies that are making them using material called zirconia which is a ceramic metal free material. Its limitations are that a lot of manufacturers are making them as a single piece which has advantages and disadvantages, but they’re certainly less flexible in terms of how they are used in dentistry.
What are dental implants used for?
In today’s world they’re used for one of three main things.
1. To replace a single tooth or multiple teeth.
2. To help hold on to a removable denture.
3. To help move teeth in orthodontics.
How do dental implants work?
Dental implants work through a process called osseointegration. When your bone heals around that implant, it is able to heal right up to that implant so when we look at a microscopic level it goes from titanium or zirconia right into the bone. There’s nothing in between that. That locks the implant in place. It makes it very stable and great to put a tooth on.
How long does it take to get a dental implant?
Most dental implants take about four months to heal and about a month or so to get a crown on top of that. It’s for the patient’s best interest to place the implant in two stages. Sometimes we need to do the surgery to prepare the bone, whether that’s removing an old tooth or maybe even augmenting a bone, making it wide enough to hold on to an implant. Maybe the tooth was missing for a very long time and we need to do a surgery to give us enough bone, a sinus surgery or something like that. In those cases the bone needs to heal for several months before we can actually place the implant. Once that implant is placed, then, again, we’re waiting another few months before we can put a tooth on it. That’s the usual progression. There’s always variation, but usually between four to eight months is how long it’s going to take to get a tooth on your dental implant.
Are people going to notice or know that you’ve had a dental implant placed?
No, nobody is going to know at all. Even from a conversation distance and even if that person is a dental professional, a dentist, a hygienist or a dental assistant, nobody’s going to know that you have had an implant placed.