Dental implants are prosthetic teeth that attach to the jaw bone so they fit, feel, and look like natural teeth. Implants are composed of three main components: the implant post that attaches to the jaw bone; the prosthetic tooth, which can be shaped and tinted to blend in with the neighboring teeth; and an abutment piece that attaches the tooth to the post. In recent years, dental implants have become extremely popular alternatives to bridges and dentures.
Dental implants offer several advantages compared to bridges and dentures:
Dental implant placement usually requires three visits. During the first visit, the post is implanted into the jaw bone, then allowed to remain undisturbed for several weeks so the bone tissue can bond with the post -- a process called osseointegration. If the jaw bone is very thin and does not provide enough support for the implant, a bone graft may be performed to supplement the existing bone. The graft can usually be performed at the same time as the post-placement. Once the post has become integrated with the jaw bone, the abutment is attached during the second office visit and an impression is made and sent to the lab where the artificial tooth is created. At the third visit, the tooth is attached to the abutment and gently shaped and buffed for a perfect fit.
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