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What is a dental implant?

March 30, 2022
There are many advantages to dental implants over other options for replacing lost teeth. Jaclyn Tomsic, MD, DMD, FACS, provides insight into why implants are a popular and safe choice for tooth replacement.

Dental implants provide a permanent replacement for lost teeth. A dental implant is a biocompatible titanium screw that is permanently inserted in the jawbone to replace the root of a tooth that has been pulled due to decay, fracture, or other pathology. The implant then provides an anchor for your dentist to put a crown on. When cared for and treated just as a real tooth, dental implants can last a lifetime.

Dental implants continue to grow in use and popularity with more people not only living longer, but also looking for a better option for tooth replacement than standard removable options. With 70% of the U.S. population missing at least one tooth, more than 1 million dental implants are placed each year in this country.

Dental implantology is considered the second oldest discipline in dentistry behind oral surgery. The ancient Chinese carved bamboo sticks in the shapes of pegs and drove them into bone over 4000 years ago. The Egyptians used precious metals 2000 years ago. From around the time of Christ, a skull was discovered in Europe with a ferrous (iron) metal tooth inserted into a skull with a tooth root form. And Incas from Central America tapped seashells into the jaw bones to replace missing teeth.

Advantages of dental implants

  • Dental implants stimulate bone and maintain its dimension, which prevents bone loss
  • Implants provide patients with chewing force and function similar to that of natural teeth
  • Implants provide better comfort than tissue-supported prosthesis (dentures), which impinge on the oral soft tissues causing tissue thinning and pain from daily use
  • Speech is improved as the implant is stable and does not move, allowing the tongue and surrounding oral muscles to move freely
  • Implant-supported dental prostheses improve the overall psychological health of a patient by up to 80% compared with traditional, removable prosthetic devices (dentures)
  • Implant-supported teeth are easier to maintain than bridges and therefore preserve intact adjacent natural teeth

These are some of the advantages of dental implants. Talk to your dentist or OMF surgeon about why an implant might be right for you as they can tell you the best time to get dental implants.