WHAT ARE DENTAL IMPLANTS?
Implant dentistry is the speciality that deals with the use of implants to replace a missing tooth or multiple missing teeth. An Implant is a titanium screw or post that is surgically placed into the jawbone by a surgeon.
WHEN IS AN IMPLANT USED?
Single-tooth implants can be used in people who are missing one or more teeth. An implant is surgically placed in an opening that your dentist makes in the jawbone. After the implant integrates (attaches) to your bone, it acts as a new “root” for the crown that will replace your missing tooth. A crown (cap), which is made to look like a natural tooth, is attached to the implant and fills the space left in the mouth by the missing tooth. For this procedure to work, there must be enough bone in the jaw. The bone has to be strong enough to hold and support the implant. If there is not enough bone, it may need to be added with a procedure called bone augmentation. In addition, natural teeth and supporting tissues near where the implant will be placed must be in good health.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
An implant-restored tooth consists of several parts.
1. The implant, which is made of titanium, is placed in the upper or lower jawbone.
2. The abutment can be made of titanium, gold or porcelain. It is attached to the implant with a screw. This part connects the implant to the crown.
3. The restoration (the part that looks like a tooth) is a crown. It usually is made of porcelain. The crown is attached either to the abutment or directly to the implant. It can be screwed or cemented onto the abutment. If the crown is screwed to the abutment, the screw hole will be covered with restorative material such as tooth-coloured filling material (composite).
In addition to the risks of surgery and the possibility of the implants failing, screws can break or loosen. Crowns also can break or come loose.
CARE FOR DENTAL IMPLANTS
After the Crown is fitted, the following is important:
• Daily flossing and brushing is essential to prevent infection from the gum tissue.
• Brush gently on the gum-crown interface to keep plague away and to avoid receding gum lines.
• Avoid biting on hard objects or sticky food that could loosen the crown.
• Regular 6 monthly dental check-ups are necessary to diagnose early problems.