What Is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant functions as a replacement for a missing tooth, serving as an anchor for an artificial tooth known as a crown. Surgically inserted into the jawbone using screw-like devices, the implant provides stability and support.

An abutment connects the artificial tooth to the dental implant, ensuring a secure fit. Custom-made to match the individual's mouth and tooth color, crowns replicate the look, feel, and function of natural teeth.

Compared to removable dentures, dental implants offer numerous advantages. They feel more natural and comfortable, boast a higher success rate, enhance chewing function, decrease the risk of cavities in adjacent teeth, promote bone maintenance at the site of the lost tooth, reduce sensitivity in nearby teeth, and eliminate the need for nightly removal and cleaning.

However, not everyone is a suitable candidate for dental implants. Healthy jawbones are necessary for successful implantation, as the devices must bond securely with the bone.

There are two main types of dental implants:
endosteal and subperiosteal. Endosteal implants are the more common type, embedded directly into the jawbone and capable of supporting one or more artificial teeth. Subperiosteal implants are placed on top of the jawbone and are suitable for individuals with limited jawbone height.

Dental implant surgery is generally safe when performed by qualified professionals and offers unique benefits, including the preservation and stimulation of jawbone health.

Certain conditions may render individuals ineligible for dental implant surgery, such as acute illness, uncontrolled metabolic disease, bone or soft tissue disorders, heavy smoking, parafunctional habits, behavioral or psychiatric disorders, HIV, diabetes, osteoporosis, and AIDS. Additionally, undergoing certain treatments like bisphosphonate drug therapy, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy of the head or neck may increase the risk of complications.

Complications of implant surgery can include nerve damage, incision opening, implant movement, exposure above the gum line, and infection. Unsuccessful implant placement may exhibit signs such as excessive mobility, discharge, pain upon tapping, and rapid bone loss.

Factors influencing the dental implant experience include the number and location of teeth needing replacement, bone quality and quantity, and overall oral and systemic health. Additional procedures like sinus augmentation or ridge modification may be necessary to ensure successful implantation.

Following surgery, maintaining oral hygiene through regular brushing and flossing is crucial. Professional follow-up visits are essential for monitoring implant health, and biannual dental check-ups are recommended for professional cleanings.