A dental implant is actually a replacement for the root or roots of a tooth. The implant is secured in the bone like a tooth root, and is not visible once surgically placed. They are used to secure a crown (the part of a tooth seen in the mouth), bridgework, or dentures by a variety of techniques. Dental implants have the highest success rate of any implanted surgical device. When teeth are lost, the bones that once supported those teeth are lost as well. Therefore, along with replacing lost teeth, implants help maintain the bone shape and density, thereby supporting the facial skeleton and indirectly maintaining gum tissues, cheeks and lips. Dental implants help you eat, chew, smile, talk and look completely natural. Before implants are considered for treatment, it is important to do a thorough exam, make study models of a patient’s mouth, and take the necessary radiographs to determine if there is enough bone for the implant and enough space for the crown that will attach to the top of the implant. Dental implants have become the standard of care for replacing missing teeth, including but not limited to:

  1. Single tooth replacement
  2. Removable denture anchors (overdenture)
  3. Fixed denture

Most dental implants on the market today are made of titanium alloy metal, giving them their biocompatible properties. After the implant is placed and enough time has passed (around six months), the bone intimately connects to the implant in a process called osseointegration. At this time, an impression is taken so that the final prosthesis (crown or denture) can be fabricated and then permanently secured to the implant. Although the treatment process for getting implants takes longer than other methods for replacing missing teeth, the long-term success and overall patient satisfaction is much higher. Also, most people assume that they cannot afford implant treatment, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, sometimes, implants are more affordable than other dental prostheses. On a side note, we often hear patients say things like, “I should just pull my tooth/teeth and get implants.” Let me assure you that there is nothing better than the real thing. Dental implants can be very effective for their intended purpose, but they are not always the end-all answer to solving dental problems, and they must be maintained even more closely than natural teeth because of their susceptibility to bone loss due to plaque. That being said, each case is carefully considered for implants to ensure we can provide predictable and successful long-term outcomes. Please don’t hesitate to schedule an implant consultation with Dr. Cooley to find out if a dental implant is right for you.