Once a tooth is extracted or lost, the bone supporting it begins to shrink away. If there is more than one missing tooth the bone loss can be significant, changing the shape of the mouth. A dental implant placed immediately after tooth loss can help maintain the bone structure. The implant is usually made of titanium and is surgically placed by a dentist or oral surgeon. These screw-like implants are placed into the jaw bone and are meant to imitate the root of the tooth. Osseointegration now takes place, where the bone begins to attach itself to the implant, providing stability. Once healing is complete, a crown is fabricated to be seated on the implant.
Another advantage of the dental implant is its life expectancy. A bridge can be expected to last for 10 to 15 years, but a implant much longer. Because it is somewhat new technology, no one knows exactly how long an implant can last. However, the first placement of dental implants in a patient took place in 1965, and the patient still had the original implants in function until his death in 2006. So the implants lasted for 40 years! So even though dental implants are more expensive than bridges initially, they may be more cost-effective in the long run.
Dr. Smith purchased a cone beam x-ray unit in December 2014 and is actively placing implants. To learn more about cone beam imaging, click on the link below.