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April 9th, 2014

Dental implants have come of age.  Over the last ten years or so, implant success rates have increased to be equal to other standard dental treatments, 98-99% over 5+ years.  This makes implants a routine option for care.
If a single tooth is lost, a determination will be made to see if there is sufficient bone to properly place the implant.  The implants are essentially titanium “roots” that must be placed completely in bone and allowed to heal for up to 12 weeks with no pressure on them.  Sometimes bone grafting material is placed around them to assist in proper healing.
After healing, your dentist will remove the healing cap on the implant and insert an attachment which is screwed in place.  A custom crown is then made to fit the implant attachment and properly match your bite and the color of your teeth.  Once completed, the artificial implant/crown combination will function just like a real tooth.  It needs routine brushing and flossing to maintain health of the surrounding gums and bone.
But implants may have their biggest impact on those with no natural teeth.  Many full denture patients are unable to wear false teeth, especially lowers, due to bone loss or other factors.  The placement of 4 or sometimes even just 2 implants under the denture will render it stable and anchored to the jaw for much better function.  The denture is still removable, but will not dislodge with normal use.
Most important is for you to understand all the choices available and decide, with the help of your dental professionals, which is right for you.  Maintaining a healthy functioning dentition is critical for overall health and a good lifestyle.
Your dental team will discuss the options for replacing a missing tooth with you.  A fixed bridge has the false tooth attached to crowns on either side of the space.  This is a good option if the adjacent teeth have large fillings and would benefit from crowns.  A removable partial denture can replace multiple teeth in several areas at a lower cost, and may be an option if there is periodontal disease present.

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