What are the different parts of a dental implant?

When we were kids, our parents showed us how to properly brush and floss our teeth and reminded us regularly how important it was to do both of those things every day. We went for a checkup and the dentist told us the same thing. When we grew up, most of us continued to practice those good habits and include the brush, floss, and dental visit routine as an important part of our daily lives.

In addition to a beaming white smile, however, are critical oral and overall body health concerns directly affected by healthy teeth and gums. In fact, diligent oral care is proven to extend people’s lifespan (or shorten it in the event of poor oral care). Indeed, bad oral habits, or simple negligence, can rapidly diminish the state of your teeth but other factors also play a role. Chipped teeth, damaged teeth, receding gums, decay, and other medical issues can reach a level of severity grave enough to require major intervention in order to spark recovery.

Once a person’s teeth arrive at this point of concern, dental implants are often the next step. Simply defined, dental implants are medical devices specifically designed and manufactured to take the place of missing natural teeth. These types of implants act as artificial tooth roots which become the foundation for all manner of dental prostheses from crowns to bridges to dentures.

How do I know if I need dental implants?

It is uncomfortable to have a chunk of corn on the cob or other grub stuck between your teeth, even with a full set of healthy and pearly whites. Imagine the compounded effect if you are missing a tooth altogether. But aside from discomfort and potentially embarrassing conversation moments, a missing tooth is cause for more serious concern.

Our teeth provide vital nutrients to our bodies and if one is missing, the bone surrounding the vacancy begins to shrink and weaken. Some people may even see a 25 percent drop in bone width in just a single year. This results is a form of calcium siphoning, where the body essentially “steals” calcium from the jaw in order to transport it for use elsewhere. The medical term for this is resorption and unchecked bone loss leads to sunken cheeks, shrinking gum size, sagging lips, and an overall “ghostly” appearance.

If that wasn’t bad enough, losing more teeth (or all of them) affects the ability to speak properly and chew food with normal function. But there is an alternative to losing basal bone tissue and living with a collapsed-looking face, and that comes in the form of dental implants. These specialized medical devices provide critical structure to your jaw and face. Dental implants are comprised of three main components: fixture, abutment, and prosthesis.

Fixture

Look closely at a dental implant’s fixture and you will notice it closely resemble the shaft of a threaded bolt. The fixture is usually made of metal like ceramic zirconia or pure titanium.  And like a traditional bolt, this part of the implant is “screwed” or embedded into the jawbone and fused with the bone. The result is an artificial tooth root. The process of fusing the fixture to bone takes three months or more and to speed up the process, a dentist might integrate a bone-regeneration agent called hydroxyapatite to the fixture.

Abutment

A dental implant’s abutment is also made of metal, ceramic, or a hybrid and extends above the patient’s gum line, supporting the crown of a tooth and securing it to the fixture. The abutment is essentially a “stud” that is added after the fusion process is complete and its integrity confirmed.

Prosthesis

The veritable icing on the oral procedure cake is the prosthesis. This is the final visible and structural dental work and appears as a crown, denture, or bridge; all of which are secured with cement, screws or clips.

Patients can rest assured that modern dental implants boast nearly 100 percent effectiveness and they are created with strength enough to last a patient’s lifetime.  

Do dental implants improve facial appearance?

In a word, yes. Dental implants correctly placed can have a tremendous impact in mitigating bone loss and receding gums. With that process in place, the bone mass in your face strengthens, restoring your original natural shape and unique traits.

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