Clay Gunnell, MS, DDS, Gunnell Dental

Dental implants have become an effective treatment for replacing missing teeth. Implants are designed to blend in with your natural teeth, and are a great long-term option for restoring the function and appearance of your smile.

A dental implant is composed of three parts: the screw, abutment and crown. The screw (most commonly made out of titanium material) is surgically placed and positioned in the alveolar bone of the maxilla or mandible. The abutment fits into the titanium screw and will protrude past the gingiva. The crown is fixed to the abutment. This allows the implant to function and appear like a normal adult tooth. It’s crucial the anatomy is carefully studied prior to placing dental implants as they come in different sizes and materials.

It’s best to consult with your dental provider for a dental implant evaluation because not everyone is a candidate for this type of treatment. The evaluation generally starts with taking a radiograph to check bone quality, amount of bone present, maxillary sinus and location of nerves and arteries in relation to the potential implant site. Sometimes a bone graft is done to aid healing (if done after an extraction) and help maintain or build a good bone height. In some cases, a sinus lift is performed to increase the height of bone, or a ridge split to increase the width of bone. Unfortunately, there are some cases where an implant is not possible. In this circumstance, you have the traditional options of a bridge or removable prosthetic device.

The follow-up care of your implant is critical with proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits. As mentioned before, this implant functions similar to your natural teeth, and the care is similar and just as important.

Dental implants are a great way to restore function, aesthetics and confidence in your smile. If you are interested in dental implants, schedule an appointment to discuss it carefully with your dentist.