Missing teeth can be embarrassing and result in a significant loss of self-confidence. Lost teeth cause people to stop smiling or to start trying to hide their smile in public. What might seem like an innocent gesture at first can have serious ramifications when it comes to feelings of self-worth. This is especially true for adolescents. In fact, one study found that dental disorders have a profoundly negative impact on the psychosocial behavior of teenagers. Fortunately, there are solutions like dental implants. Dental implants seamlessly take the place of lost teeth with no indication that the tooth isn't real. Here's how they work.
The key to dental implants is something called osseointegration. Have you ever seen a rope swing that's grown into the tree where it has hung unused for many years? Dental implants function on a similar idea. Osseointegration, or bone remodeling, is the process of creating new bone growth. Making a dental implant that will last requires that the process of osseointegration takes place. Because of this, dental implant surgery has to happen in three stages.
First Stage: Implant
The first stage of a dental implant is done by a periodontal surgeon. He or she will drill a small hole in the patient's jawbone and screw a titanium screw into the drilled hole. The surgeon will then cover the screw with gum tissue. Once the screw is implanted, the patient must wait for the process of osseointegration. The screw must become fused with the bone so that it creates a stable and permanent base for the implant. This is a process that takes from 3 to 6 months to heal.
Second Stage: The Post
The second stage of a dental implant involves attaching the post to the titanium base. Once this is done, there is another waiting process while the gum tissue heals and grows around the post, not over it. Sometimes the post and screw are implanted simultaneously so that the osseointegration and growth of gum tissue happen at the same time. Other periodontal surgeons prefer to separate the stages.
Third Stage: Crown Attachment
The final stage of dental implant surgery is attaching the crown to the post. The crown is the part of the implant that actually looks like a tooth. Most commonly, crowns are made of some type of porcelain designed to look like natural tooth material. However, there are other material options for crowns like gold and stainless steel.
To learn more about dental implants, speak to a local dentist.