Dental implants are small titanium posts that serve the same purpose as the roots of natural teeth. Because titanium has the unique ability to fuse to living bone, your dental implants actually become a part of your jawbone that has two benefits: serve as an anchor to replace missing teeth and help to preserve bone volume and density.
How dental implants work
Implants are so strong, they can support bridgework or a fixed denture, meaning a full row of teeth (top or bottom) can be anchored by as few as four implants. And as few as two implants can be used to stabilize a lower removable denture so it won’t slip while you’re eating or speaking.
Treatment options with implants include:
Replace One Tooth — When you have one tooth missing, a single implant is inserted into the bone to replace the root part of that tooth; a crown then goes on top to simulate an actual tooth. This treatment choice has the highest success rate, making it the best long-term investment for replacing a single missing tooth. Even if the initial cost is slightly higher than other options, it is the most cost-effective solution over time.
Replace Multiple Teeth — when you have more than one tooth missing, implants provide an ideal replacement mechanism. For example, if you are missing three teeth in a row, a 3-unit fixed bridge can be created. This consists of two implants, one on either side of the gap, and a crown in between that has no implant underneath.
Replace All Teeth — Implants can anchor a removable full denture to keep it from slipping or, better yet, an entire arch of upper or lower replacement teeth that are fixed into the mouth and are never removed. These teeth can take the form of fixed bridgework, which is a full set of replacement dental crowns; or a fixed denture, which contains crowns as well as realistic-looking prosthetic (replacement) gum tissue.
There are only two ways an implant can lose attachment to the bone once it was successfully integrated: poor oral hygiene or excessive biting forces. Poor oral hygiene and/or a lack of regular cleanings can lead to a destructive bacterial infection called peri-implantitis. Excessive biting forces can come from either a habit of clenching or grinding your teeth, or an insufficient number of implants to handle the forces generated by your bite. And if you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, we will recommend wearing a nightguard to protect your implants.