If you tend to hide your smile behind your hand or you’re struggling to eat your favourite foods, because of missing or damaged teeth, then it sounds like dental implants could provide the perfect solution for you. While there are many methods of replacing missing teeth, dental implants have fast become the ‘go-to’ fix. Tooth implants provide a permanent solution to missing teeth and can significantly improve your quality of life. But like any form of dental treatment, you probably want more information before committing.
This is one of the first questions we’re usually asked by patients weighing up the pros and cons of various tooth replacement treatments.
Many people mistakenly think that a dental implant is a visible restoration that fills a gap and shows when you smile. Whereas, in reality, a dental implant consists of three components: a small screw-like post, a connecting piece called an abutment and a false tooth or dental crown.
The term ‘dental implant’ is usually meant to mean the implant post or screw which is in most cases made from titanium because of its biocompatible characteristics. However, zirconia can also be used for implants but this is the more expensive of the two procedures. That said, it’s a good alternative for anyone who may be allergic to titanium or who doesn’t want any metal in their mouth.
A biocompatible material is one that doesn’t normally affect the body. In other words, once the dental implants are placed, your body is unlikely to reject them. Dental implants are unlike any other method of tooth replacement out there because they are implanted into the mouth and become a permanent fixture.
Let us explain further ….
Dental implants act as artificial tooth roots. Because they are implanted directly into the jawbone at the site of a missing tooth or teeth, the body regards them as natural additions to the mouth and so begins to grow bone and soft tissue cells over the implant in a process known as osseointegration. Once this has occurred a few months down the line and the implant is fully stabilized, it’s strong enough to support a dental crown or, with other implants, to secure a dental bridge or a denture.
In other words, a dental implant can replace a single missing tooth, multiple missing teeth, or even all of your teeth. They’re that versatile!
So getting back to the question of “what are dental implants made of” both the implant post and often the abutment (connects the prosthetic tooth to the post) are made from a titanium alloy.
What about the other components?
The abutment is usually made of titanium because it’s a lightweight and biocompatible material. However, abutments can also be made from gold or zirconium as well as surgical grade stainless steel. Whatever material is used, it has to form a mucosal seal to stop bacteria from entering the gums and causing infection.
The last of the component parts of the implant is the crown that tops an implant to complete the restoration. This is made from porcelain in most cases because it has similar translucency properties to tooth enamel and can be shade-matched to neighbouring teeth to give a remarkably life-like appearance.
The post and abutment have the potential to last for two or more decades, if not indefinitely since titanium is a super-strong material. Whereas a dental crown is likely to need replacing due to wear and tear between 10 and 15 years.
That said, there are ways to increase the lifespan of a dental crown, namely:
So now you have the answer to “what are dental implants made from, perhaps you’re wondering how best to care for them?
Dental implants don’t just look and act like natural teeth, they’re cared for in the same way with daily brushing and flossing. Gum disease is the number one enemy of dental implants so it’s important to maintain good oral health at all times and to visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleans.
Dental implants come with a wealth of psychological and health benefits. Because they are embedded into the jawbone and stimulate it, the bone loss that occurs after tooth loss is prevented and this helps to retain its shape and prevent the facial structures from sagging – making a person appear older than they are.
Replacing missing teeth with dental implants also lowers the risk of further tooth loss and because the implants are secure and as strong as natural teeth no foods are out of bounds as they often are when wearing dentures or a bridge.
If you are missing a tooth or teeth, why not schedule a FREE dental implant consultation to see how they might be able to help you. Call us on (314) 469-6429 or use our online booking form.