There are multiple factors which would lead a dentist to the recommendation for a patient of a dental implant, generally being a combination of function and aesthetics. When a tooth has become so damaged as a result of decay or trauma and has been judged by the dentist as being "not able to be saved," the patient will be presented options for replacing the tooth with a prosthetic that is held in place through a variety of methods. The advent of "dental implants" allowed patients to retain the functionality of natural teeth with regards to chewing and eating, as well as the aesthetics of not having missing teeth. In these regards, dental implants are excellent for salvaging the ability to eat as well as maintaining (or even improving) the patient's self esteem.
The actual procedure that will result in a dental implant for a patient takes place over multiple visits. On the first visit, the situation will be assessed by the dentist through examination of the effected teeth, surrounding teeth and overall oral health of the patient. During this exam, the dentist will make a decision if the tooth or teeth are able to be saved through surgery or treatment, and if it is determined that the tooth cannot be saved it will either be removed on that visit or at another scheduled time. The surgery to remove the tooth can range in complexity based upon the extent of the damage. After the tooth is removed, the health of the jaw bone is assessed to determine if the patient is a candidate for a dental implant, or if the resulting gap will be filled by a number of different methods of securing a prosthetic tooth in place. The only method that is permanent is the dental implant, in which an anchor is surgically embedded into the patient's jaw bone and the prosthetic tooth is affixed to it. It is for this reason that the overall health of the jaw bone is so important, as weakened or diseased jaw bone will not be able to hold the prosthetic securely in place. If it is determined that the jaw bone is strong enough to hold the prosthetic, then a new tooth will be custom made in a dental lab which will match the surrounding teeth as far as shape and color. This new tooth will be affixed into place once it is ready. Once this process is completed, the patient should be able to live life as though the implant is a natural tooth. Eating and chewing should have few to no restrictions, and care and maintenance will generally be the same as natural teeth involving regular brushing and flossing.
Dental implants will improve the smile of the patient significantly, as the teeth which are replaced are generally damaged or discolored in some way. The new implant will be perfectly matched to the patient's smile, creating a natural look that few will notice as involving prosthetic teeth. Speaking will also be improved as gaps between teeth will nearly always cause modified speech patterns, lisps and whistles. Ask your dentist today about options for dental implants that could improve not only your smile, but also your health and your life.