What are they?
Dental implants have literally revolutionized dentistry by allowing us to replace missing teeth without damaging your own natural teeth. Implants are metal (titanium) posts on which the new artificial tooth is placed.
How is it done?
Titanium fixtures (posts) are placed in about one hour using local anesthesia such as novocaine. Frequently, an implant can immediately replace an irreversibly damaged natural tooth. For example, imagine falling off your bike and fracturing a front tooth below the gumline so that it would be impossible to fix in the usual way. Now we can often remove the remaining root and immediately place an implant, whereas in the past, the adjacent teeth would have to be prepared.
Do they work?
Dental implants have been successfully used for hundreds of thousands of patients over the last 30 years. The success rate is greater than 90% and in those rare cases where they fail, they can usually be redone. Rather, it is the lack of an adequate amount of bone in which to place the implants, which can prevent their use.
Am I a candidate?
Chances are great that you are!
Few medical conditions can prevent placement of dental implants. In fact, bone in the mouth where teeth have been lost is actually strengthened and maintained by placing implants. For example, osteoporosis (thinning bone), a common problem for older individuals, does not prevent us from placing implants in the mouth. Nor is age usually a factor. We have placed implants in 16 year olds as well as individuals in their ninth decade!
What if I don't have teeth?
Even more reason to consider implants, since implants don't slip or slide like removable dentures. Further, implants maintain bone around them and keep your ridges from flattening as they often do with time.
Even just two implants can be used to greatly improve the function of lower denture. The implants can be placed under the denture for retention and support—this is called an overdenture.