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Dental Implants Get to the Root

Gapped or broken teeth are more than just distractions on the surface. Forget the crooked smile. Every time you eat, the remaining teeth have to pick up the slack. As a result, repeated stress leads to jaw pain, bone loss and headaches, among other problems. Dental implants are a permanent way to replace lost teeth. The benefits are cosmetic but more importantly, vital to general well-being.

Prior to the 1970s, the dental world offered few options to repair teeth. Bridges and dentures were routinely used but neither was entirely satisfactory. Bridges, which relied on adjacent teeth for support, were regularly at risk for decay, resulting in costly replacements. Regarding dentures, patients routinely complained of high-maintenance and artificial looking eyesores. In some instances, embarrassing incidents took place when dentures fell out during mealtimes and social occasions. In contrast, dental implants are neither removable nor replaceable if integrated and maintained. The implants are actually a part of the jawbone for the rest of a patient’s life.

How do Dental Implants Work?

Osseointegration is the process of fusing titanium with bone. Discovered in the early 1960s by a Swedish professor, Per-Ingvar Branemark, the procedure is now widely used with great reward in several medical fields. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, implants have a success rate of 97 percent. Unlike cosmetic surgeries, dental implantsare not one-day procedures. The entire process may take as long as six months and involves the effort of several team members, including an oral surgeon and a prosthodontist. The first step is performed by the surgeon who drills into jawbone, placing a screw and temporary crown in the newly created hole. Patients then wait for osseointegration to occur. In other words, the bone and screw must fuse before a permanent crown can be attached. Most patients are ready for the next step within three months.