Losing a tooth is more than cosmetic, but the cosmetic damage is bad enough. A clean, bright smile is an important social asset, and a hole in your smile can block opportunities before you even have a chance. The worst part is that if you do nothing to correct your broken smile, the effects of tooth loss last indefinitely. A dental implant can not only mimic the look of a natural tooth, but it will function like a natural tooth, which will keep your smile healthy.
Placing a Dental Implant
You could call a dental implant a prosthetic tooth. To place your replacement tooth, a dentist must first make sure the bone structure is healthy enough to hold the new tooth. In some cases, when you knock a tooth out, it can take a chunk of bone with it. If this is the case, you may need a bone transplant before you have enough healthy bone to hold the tooth in place.
Once the dentist has determined that your jawbone is healthy, the dentist will drill a hole down into the bone. If this sounds painful, it's not but only because you should be numbed if not knocked out for this part. Meanwhile, the dentist "implants" a titanium post into this hole. The bone is then allowed to heal around the post for six months.
Finishing the Prosthetic Tooth
When the post is firmly in place, the dentist will cement a crown in place. The color and shape of the crown should mimic the look of your natural teeth, so no one should be able to pick out your fake tooth.
Benefits of a Dental Implant
The pressure on your teeth stimulates the bone around your root, which responds by growing more dense to firmly anchor the tooth. When you knock out a tooth, this stimulus is lost and the bone can atrophy. This can cause the teeth around the the lost tooth to move. The dental implant will allow pressure to travel down the post and keep the bone healthy. Furthermore, because of how the implant is anchored, you can eat whatever you would eat with your natural teeth.
Care for an Implant
While a dental implant is made from titanium and porcelain, it can still fail if you don't take proper care of it. Brushing and flossing is important to keep your teeth looking nice and to keep your gums healthy. For if your gums fail, your tooth can fail. When you go to the dentist, you will need to make sure that you inform the hygienist that you have an implant, so they can use instruments that will not scratch the posts. Such scratches can allow germs to get under your gums and cause an infection.
With the proper care an implant can last for decades. If you are looking for a way to replace a missing tooth, discuss a dental implant with your dentist.