Losing a natural tooth does not just mean loss of a chewing surface, but also the loss of a crucial element of maintaining overall tooth alignment and jawbone integrity. The alignment of the teeth establishes the pattern of our bite and influences the development of the muscles and bones of our entire head region including the jaw and neck.
For these reasons dentists always advise patients to have the tooth replaced. This can be achieved through bridges, full and partial dentures, and implants. Of these, the dental implant is the best choice for maintaining the quality of the jawbone as it replaces the missing root along with the tooth.
Teeth have three layers - the outermost layer is the enamel, the softer tissues in the middle are called the dentin and the core of the tooth contains the softest layer called the pulp which consists of bone marrow and blood vessels and nerves.
Dental implants are similar to normal teeth in that they have a "root" like region as well as crown that serves the same function and has the same appearance as the original dentin and enamel portion of the tooth. Implant fixtures themselves vary in size, but all require surgical implantation into the jawbone. A phase of osseointegration takes place after the surgery for three to six months, during which time the surrounding tissues bond to the anchor.
Once the anchor is integrated into the jaw bone, the dentist places a crown on it.
Dental statistics give a ninety-five percent success rate for implants in the lower jaw and a ninety percent success rate in the upper jaw.The majority of the dentists think that the lower density of the upper jaw bone is the main cause behind the slightly lower success rate, preventing successful osseointegration. Not everyone is a candidate for implant placement and only a properly trained dentist or oral surgeon will be able to make the final determination. The space available and the condition of the jaw bone are factors which influence the decision. Sometimes dental surgeons will suggest a "mini-implant" instead, which has a much smaller anchor and is just partially inserted into the jawbone.
A strict oral hygiene regimen is required for patients who have undergone dental implant placement, simply because the gums surrounding the implant restoration are equally prone to infection as those surrounding natural teeth.