A dental implant is actually a replacement for the root or roots of a tooth. Like tooth roots, dental implants are secured in the jawbone and are not visible once surgically placed. They are used to secure crowns (the part of teeth seen in the mouth), bridgework or dentures by a variety of means. They are made of titanium, which is lightweight, strong and biocompatible, which means that it cannot be not rejected by the body. Titanium and titanium alloys are the most widely used metals in both dental and other bone implants, such as orthopaedic joint replacements. Dental implants have the highest success rate of any implanted surgical device.
Titanium’s special property of fusing to bone, called ossteointegration (“ossteo” – bone; “integration” – fusion or joining with), is the biological basis of dental implant success. That’s because when teeth are lost, the bone that supported those teeth is lost too. Placing dental implants stabilizes bone, preventing its loss. Along with replacing lost teeth, implants help maintain the jawbone’s shape and density.
There are many advantages to dental implants, including:
Improved appearance. Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. And because they are designed to fuse with bone, they become permanent.
Improved speech. With poor-fitting dentures, the teeth can slip within the mouth causing you to slur your words. Dental implants allow you to speak without any worries that teeth might slip.
Improved comfort. Because they become part of you, implants eliminate the discomfort of removable dentures.
Easier eating. Sliding dentures can make chewing difficult. Dental implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat your favourite food with confidence and without pain.
Improved self-esteem. Dental implants can give you back your smile and help you feel better about yourself.
Improved oral health. Dental implants don't require reducing other teeth, as a tooth-supported bridge does. Because nearby teeth are not altered to support the implant, more of your own teeth are left intact, improving long-term oral health. Individual implants also allow easier access between teeth, improving oral hygiene.
Durability. Implants are very durable and will last many years. With good care, many implants last a lifetime.
Convenience. Removable dentures are just that; removable. Dental implants eliminate the embarrassing inconvenience of removing dentures, as well as the need for messy adhesives to keep them in place.
Success rates of dental implants vary, depending on where in the jaw the implants are placed but, in general, dental implants have a success rate of up to 98%. With proper care such as proper brushing, flossing, rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash, and regular dental check-ups, implants can last up to lifetime.