A dental implant is a medical-grade titanium post that’s implanted into the jaw bone. The post serves as an anchor or artificial tooth root to hold a restoration in place. Implant posts can be used to secure an individual artificial tooth or crown, a bridge, or a denture.
An implant procedure typically takes three separate visits.
During the first visit, Dr. Chu will place the post into the jaw bone. If the jaw bone is very thin — too thin to provide adequate support — she’ll also perform a bone graft to supplement the existing bone with a small portion of bone taken from a tissue bank or, sometimes, from elsewhere in the patient’s mouth. Usually, a bone graft can be performed when the implant is placed.
Then the incision used to access the bone will be closed with sutures and the implant will be left alone for several weeks to enable the natural bone tissue to fuse with the implant so it’s secure and stable.
At the second visit, Dr. Chu will attach a second piece called an abutment that connects the post to the crown, bridge, or denture. She’ll take an impression of the area and send it to a lab where the restoration will be made.
At the third visit, the restoration will be attached to the post using the abutment. Dr. Chu will buff, shape, and adjust the restoration as needed so it fits perfectly.
An implant-supported crown offers several advantages over a traditional bridge.
First, crowns attached to implants are easier to care for. Just routine brushing and flossing and regular dental visits — the same care recommended for natural teeth — can keep an implant-supported crown in good shape.
Crowns are also more secure and comfortable, and they don’t cause added stress or strain to neighboring teeth.
And finally, the metal post used to support a crown can help stimulate bone replacement just like a natural tooth root. Bridges rest on top of the gum, and they can’t stimulate bone replacement. That means the underlying jaw bone can atrophy, compromising the health of neighboring teeth and significantly increasing the risk of additional tooth loss over time.
Dental implants are easy to care for with routine brushing and flossing and regular dental checkups to make sure the gums surrounding the implant stay healthy and free of disease.