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Do dental implants work?

Most patients find that a dental implant is secure, stable and a good replacement for their own tooth. If you are in good general health, with a jawbone that can support it, implants may be an option for you.

With careful treatment planning and good oral care, dental implants can provide a healthy, stable smile for a lifetime.

Dental implants can work very well for replacing lost teeth in adults. Instead of a permanent bridge or a removable denture, dental implants made of titanium metal are surgically placed in your jawbone, where they fuse to the bone, allowing a permanent crown to be attached. The vast majority of dental implants placed more than 20 years ago are still functioning well, with a success rate of about 95%, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

Dental implants are a great option for replacing teeth for most patients. Advantages include the ability to clean and maintain them similar to a real tooth, they are fixed instead of removable like a denture that needs to be taken out at night, they don't decay (because there is no natural teeth involved), and dental implants have a long track record of success. Some disadvantages include the fact that there is a surgical procedure involved in getting one (although it can be "no big deal" for many patients) and that they come with a "state-of-the-art" price tag.

If a patient has to lose a tooth, I will consult with them regarding the use of Implant retained restorations. First, I like to ask them what they think they know about implants. It is interesting to hear the range of answers. 

 I like to explain Implants in the following way:

An "Implant" is the sum of 3 parts: 

  1. The Fixture: This is a titanium screw, which is placed in an appropriate bone site that will heal in and support whatever is attached to it later on. The final restoration may be a single crown, a bridge, or perhaps an overdenture attachment. Placement of the fixture is typically performed by a periodontist or oral surgeon. The healing period can be 4-6 months depending on the bone quality. 
  2. The Abutment: The abutment is the connector between the implant fixture and the restoration. Sometimes it looks like a mini-tooth, which will hold a crown. Other times it can be a "locator attachment" which snaps into a denture to help it hold better. A lab makes the abutment and your general dentist will make the impressions for it. 
  3. The Restoration: This can be a single crown, a bridge, or an overdenture. The restoration is screwed into, or cemented on the abutment. 
My experience with implants in general has been positive. A carefully thought out and well executed treatment plan by a team that includes a restorative dentist, a surgeon and a laboratory leads to a successful result. 

As with any medical treatment, risks are involved. Some patients are not good candidates for implants. A careful review of the patient's medical history, and medications are part of determining if they are a good candidate. 

Continue Learning about Dental Implant

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.