Dental implants are devices that replace the roots of missing teeth in your jaw. They are a basic feature used to support the application of crowns, bridges and dentures, and are usually implanted surgically into your jaw.
Why should I replace my teeth?
There are many reasons you should consider replacing any missing teeth in your jawbone. Some of them are cosmetic, and some are more health related – but all are just important. Some reasons are:
- Having a full set of teeth when you smile can do wonders to improve your confidence – and you don’t have to worry about people noticing your missing teeth.
- When you lose a tooth, the area of bone that used to hold it in place starts to dissolve, altering the shape of your jaw. Implants help to preserve the bone and keep your jaw set.
- Losing a tooth can affect how well you can chew, and this means you might suddenly be limited by what kinds of food you can eat. You might struggle, for example, to eat raw fruits and vegetable because they are more difficult to chew. This could lead to you simply avoiding these foods – as you may not consider, or want to blend, puree or juice your food. Some people who lose teeth end up poorly nourished because of this, and this affects your general health.
- Tooth loss can cause further dental issues. It affects the way you bite, which can in turn change the way your teeth come together. This leads to problems with the temporomandibular joint in your jaw.
- Tooth loss can lead to changes in speech – for example suddenly gaining a lisp. This can affect your self confidence.
But the good news is that there are many types of dental implant to chose from, and there is bound to be one that suits you.
The root form implant is the most common type of implant used today. It is crafted from titanium, and looks like a small cylinder or screw. Once the implant is planted into your jawbone, a metal cylinder (called an abutment) is attached to serve as a base for further work – e.g a crown, denture or bridge.
The key to success in all implants is a process known as osseointegration. This basically means the way the jaw grows into and around the implant fitted. Titanium is a specialised material that the jawbone is able to accept as part of the body. This remarkable ability to be able to fuse with bone was discovered completely by accident in 1952.
A scientist named Per-Ingvar Brånemark was conducting research into how bone healed after injury by using titanium chambers screwed into bones. One he had completed his experiment he tried to remove the chambers, only to find that they had fused with the bone. This caused him to do further research into titanium and bones, and sparked the idea for titanium implants.
In 1965 the first root-form implants were placed in people. While many other types of implant are available from many other manufacturers, this is still the most popular method.
Success of treatments
Studies performed into implants indicate that the surgical placement of a root-form implant is successful over 90% of the time. In the 10% where failures were experienced, the problems were usually within the first year after surgery. Once the first year has been passed, only 1% of implants fail.