Modern dental implants first appeared on the scene in Sweden in the 1960s. They surged in popularity in the 1990s, and they are currently considered the best option for replacing the natural teeth. If you are only missing a single tooth, a dental implant and crown may be the ideal option for you. While individual dental implants and crowns can be used to replace multiple teeth, this is not usually the preferred option; in these cases, an implant supported bridge or denture is preferable.
To place a dental implant, first, the damaged tooth is extracted, if it has not already fallen out. Then, an oral surgeon will lift the gum tissue and drill a small hole in the bone, creating a place for the implant. Once the implant is placed, the gum tissue is sutured back over the site, and the implant is given time to heal and fuse with the bone; this usually takes about 6 to 9 months. This creates the most stable foundation possible for the replacement tooth.
After the implant has healed, and abutment is affixed to the implant, and then, the crown, or replacement tooth, is attached to the abutment. This requires a minor second surgery, to expose the implant and attach the abutment; the gum tissue then heals around the abutment and around a temporary crown that is affixed to the abutment. Once this healing process has completed, a custom-made dental crown will be attached to the abutment. The permanent crown will be made based on impressions of the natural teeth, and it is made of dental-grade porcelain which matches the natural teeth in hue and luminosity, giving the row of teeth a natural appearance. The permanent crown can be removable, snapping to the abutment, or permanently fixed to the abutment with cement or a screw. Before it is cemented, the crown will be evaluated by the dentist to make sure it meets standards of fit and appearance. After it is placed, the dental health professional may adjust the shape or positioning of the crown, ensuring an ideal alignment with the other teeth.
Dental implants are uniquely beneficial and are widely considered to be the best possible solution for replacement teeth. Some dental restorations require that a significant amount of healthy tooth structure be removed, in order to provide adequate support for the restoration. Problematically, these types of restorations also restore only a small fraction of original bite strength to the wearer, and there is a constant risk of slipping or movement with these types of restorations. Because the dental implant replaces the roots of the tooth and functions as the root did, it provides the most stable anchor for the replacement tooth and restores nearly all of the original bite strength -- about 90%. Additionally, because the natural bone fuses to the implant, the implant supports the bone itself, preventing bone resorption where natural teeth have been removed, stimulating bone growth and bone strength, and maintaining the healthy appearance of the jaw and the lower face.