Implants are natural-looking, can provide support for dentures, and do not affect the teeth bordering them. But after you have an implant, you may need to have more surgery in the future so that the implant stays in place in your jawbone. Talk to your dentist about the pros and cons of this treatment option.
It's easy to ignore the effects of poor oral hygiene because they're hidden in your mouth. But gum disease produces a bleeding, infected wound that's the equivalent in size to the palms of both your hands, says Susan Karabin, DDS, a New York periodontist and president of the American Academy of Periodontology.
"If you had an infection that size on your thigh, you'd be hospitalized," Karabin says. "Yet people walk around with this infection in their mouth and ignore it. It's easy to ignore because...
Your dentist, oral surgeon, or gum disease specialist (periodontist) will place an anchor and post in your jawbone. The anchor functions as the tooth root and is made from metals such as titanium. The post extends out of the anchor. Your new tooth will attach to the post. It takes 3 to 6 months for the jawbone to grow around the anchor and hold it in place. Some dentists use two operations to put in the anchor and the post.
When the anchor is well attached to the bone, your dentist will cement the artificial tooth (crown) to the implant.
You may have swelling or tenderness or both for a few days after the surgery, and your dentist may give you pain medicine. Your dentist may also suggest that you eat only soft foods for a period of time.
After you have an implant, it stays in. You do not have to remove it for cleaning.
It is just as important to brush and floss implants as it is with natural teeth. If bacteria build up on implants, you can end up with gum disease and bone loss.