The strides made in dental technology over the last several decades are truly amazing. Thanks to those advancements, dentists and oral surgeons can now replace one or more missing teeth with permanent, natural-looking, extremely durable artificial teeth called dental implants. An implant consists of a titanium rod that is inserted into the patient’s jawbone. After several months, the metal fuses to the bone tissue, creating what is essentially an artificial tooth root that is just as strong – or even stronger – than any natural tooth root. After that, the dentist simply affixes a porcelain crown to the top of the implant, and the patient is left with a replacement tooth that not only looks natural; it usually lasts for the lifetime of the patient.
Unfortunately, not everyone is a good candidate for dental implants. In order for the titanium rod to fuse with bone tissue, there has to be an adequate amount of bone present. It’s not unusual for people who are missing teeth to also experience some amount of bone loss (a condition that can occur for a variety of reasons). There has to be enough jawbone present to accommodate the titanium rod of the implant. If the bone is inadequate, the implant won’t be successful. Once again, dental technology comes to the rescue! The good news is that even patients with compromised bone tissue can enjoy all the benefits of dental implants with a procedure called bone grafting.
The process involves an oral surgeon taking a section of bone from some other area of the patient’s body. Then, using bone grafting material, the surgeon grafts that bone onto the patient’s jawbone. After several months, the new bone tissue fuses to the existing jawbone, creating a much stronger base for the implant. At that time, the dentist or oral surgeon can perform the implant procedure. After a few more months pass – once the metal rod of the insert has fused with the now-stronger jawbone – the dentist can affix the artificial tooth to the implant.
There are many advantages provided by dental implants. Unlike partial or complete dentures, implants never move inside the patient’s mouth because they are attached to the titanium rod that is fused to the patient’s jawbone. Implants look exactly like natural teeth, and they function in the same way as well. And implants don’t require any special cleaning techniques – the patient simply brushes and flosses as usual.
Thanks to bone grafting, now virtually anyone can enjoy the benefits of dental implants!