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Dental implants are foundations for false or artificial teeth. A dentist typically installs an implant as the first step in tooth restoration surgery, which is performed to remedy gaps in the mouth where teeth have fallen out. Once the implant is fixed in place, the dentist can begin to craft the artificial teeth.
The Tooth Restoration Process
Step 1: Installing the Dental Implant
The dentist takes measurements to determine the dimensions, angle, and color of the implant. He or she then carefully sets an implant in the gap. The implant must fuse with the jaw bone and the surrounding tissues must completely heal before further work can be done. The infusion and tissue healing process typically takes between three to six months.
Step 2: Installing the Abutments
The dentist punctures a hole in the gum above the location of the dental implant to make way for an abutment, a metal cylinder that will hold the artificial tooth in place. The dentist fixes the abutment in the hole to set the stage for the artificial teeth to be installed.
Step 3: Installing the Artificial Tooth
The dentist takes an impression, or mold, of the patient’s teeth. The patient bites into a clump of putty to form the mold. The dentist analyzes the mold in the laboratory to ensure that the artificial tooth matches the patient’s natural teeth as closely as possible. The patient typically wears a temporary tooth crown on the abutment while the final tooth is being prepared. When the final tooth is ready, the dentist removes the crown and installs the tooth, ensuring a precise and comfortable fit.
Dental Implants and Dentures
Dental implants are also used to retain dentures. By holding the denture in place, the implant eliminates the need for the wearer to remove the denture nightly. The dentist can modify the denture to fit the shape and changes in the gum. Contact your dentist to learn about your options for tooth restoration and whether dental implants are right for you.