Whether it’s caused by dental disease or trauma, it’s common for many Australians to be missing some adult teeth. The gaps left behind can impact how you eat and speak, and can sometimes affect your remaining teeth.
There are a number of ways to replace these teeth. One of the ways is a dental implant*.
What are dental implants?
When it comes to replacing missing teeth, a dental implant is often considered the most similar to a natural tooth. This is because the most common implants are a replacement for the root system allowing an artificial tooth to be attached to the implant in your jaw.
The implant is usually made of titanium metal. Once we insert it into the jawbone, it becomes an artificial anchor for your new tooth, which offers a lot of strength and durability. While dentures sometimes come loose, a dental implant is a fixed solution and doesn’t require anchoring from other teeth.
Why replace a missing tooth?
Lots of people have their own reasons for wanting to replace a missing tooth: it might be affecting which foods they can eat, or maybe they want to change the look of their smile.
However, we tend to prioritise another reason for replacing teeth – your health. When there is a gap in a row of teeth, the neighbouring teeth may shift and move out of place, which can change your bite, lead to jaw problems, or increase your risk of dental decay. And, of course, if you have one less tooth, the other teeth nearby tend to have to pick up the slack when it comes to chewing, which can wear them down prematurely.
The dental implant procedure
The procedure for getting an implant is gradual, but it’s important to understand why that’s the case.
Firstly, the process usually begins with a few exams and x-rays to ensure you’re a good candidate for an implant. You generally need to have a healthy jawbone and no gum disease and be in good health. There are some medical conditions that can undermine the success of an implant treatment, such as diabetes and some bone conditions such as osteoporosis.
Once we’ve confirmed you’re a candidate for an implant, we can take the first step and place the titanium root into your jaw bone beneath the gum line. If your jaw is not in good condition to receive the implant or we think a different treatment might be better for you, we’ll walk you through other options.
In some cases, we may also attach an abutment (the part that connects the root to the tooth) in the first stage, while some cases may require the gum to heal completely. This process of waiting for the gum to heal and placing the abutment can sometimes take several months.
Next, our professionals will fit your new, specially-made prosthetic tooth to the abutment. This may take a couple of appointments to get the fit just right.
Looking after your dental implant
Once you have an implant in place, the best way to look after it is the same way you’ll look after the rest of your teeth – proper dental hygiene, regular check-ups with your dentist, and a healthy diet. Smoking is a risk factor as it can weaken bone structure and compromise the implant. So it’s a habit to stop if you’re thinking about getting dental implants, among the many other benefits to your overall health if you quit.
While the tooth itself isn’t susceptible to the same issues as normal teeth (such as decay), you will still need to clean it and take care not to chip or crack the tooth. That might mean wearing a mouthguard if you play any contact sports.
Curious about replacing a missing tooth?
Contact your closest d-spa clinic. Our friendly teams are happy to discuss your options with you.
* Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding with a surgical or invasive procedure, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.