The best way to understand dental implants is to talk to a dentist in person. To schedule your consultation at Rochester Advanced Dentistry in Rochester, MI, please call (248) 656-2020 or email us today.
Built Like a Natural Tooth
A dental implant is the only replacement tooth that’s actually designed to be like your natural tooth. If you’ve ever seen what an entire tooth looks like, you know that only the top of the tooth, called the crown, is actually smooth white enamel. The part that’s below the gumline–the root–is rough and dun-colored. That’s because it’s designed to anchor the connective tissue that binds it to your jawbone.
A dental implant is similar in design. The visible part is an attractive dental crown or bridge, made of highly durable advanced ceramic material. The other part is made of titanium, a metal that is capable of bonding to your bone. Sometimes there’s a piece that serves as an attachment between the two parts, called an abutment, but other dental implants connect directly to the dental crown.
Osseointegration: The Secret of Dental Implant Success
For millennia, people have been trying to achieve the dream of replacing your natural teeth with something very much like them. Early experiments involved iron posts and sea shells. Later approaches used a nut-and-bolt approach that drilled a hole through your bone and used parts above and below to secure the implant. An approach that is still sometimes used today is the subperiosteal implant, which doesn’t actually anchor in your bone, but sits under your gums beside the bone.
All these approaches had inconsistent success rates, and it wasn’t until we discovered how to integrate dental implants into the bone that we were able to make reliable dental implants. The discovery was made by Per Ingvar Brånemark in 1952, when he was working to monitor blood flow and bone healing with titanium probes. These probes integrated into the bones they were monitoring, and Dr. Brånemark realized titanium could be used to make replacement teeth. Although he placed the first dental implants in 1955, it took another fifteen years before he found acceptance for his dental implants. And it wasn’t until 1982 that his ideas found acceptance outside the Scandinavian countries. The FDA first began considering integrated (“endosseous”) dental implants in 1989.
Designing Your Implant Solution
But what will your dental implant look like? Dental implants are custom-designed solutions, and we won’t be able to tell you until we are able to evaluate your situation. To replace a single tooth, you will receive one dental implant topped with a dental crown. In replacing several teeth, you might receive two or three dental implants and a dental bridge. Replacing a full arch of teeth requires two, four, or six dental implants to support dentures, depending on your functional goals.