Archeological evidence indicates that humans first started replacing missing teeth thousands of years ago. Among some of the first dental pioneers were the ancient Chinese, who used bamboo pegs to replace lost teeth roughly 4,000 years ago. Likewise, the Egyptians are believed to have replaced missing teeth with transplant teeth as well as false, ivory teeth.

Thankfully, dentistry has come a long way since these early times. Now the process of getting dental implants is relatively painless, affordable, and very commonplace. In fact, the American Academy of Implant Dentistry estimates that over 3 million Americans have dental implants. At Montana Dental Works, we strive to provide quality, long-lasting implants that in the long run can preserve your jawbone, keep adjacent teeth healthy, and improve your smile.

Still unsure exactly how dental implants work? Read on to find out more about dental implants.

The Implant

The process begins with the insertion of a titanium implant into the upper or lower jawbone. The implant is usually a cylindrical, tapered post that is designed to osseointegrate—or fuse—with your jawbone as you heal. This fusion process creates a long-lasting bond and solid foundation for the new replacement teeth. It can take months for the healing process to complete and for the implant to become fully integrated into your bone. However, for the most part, during this time you are still able to carry out your life as usual—and you will, of course, have the option of covering the implant with a temporary tooth or denture.

If you don’t have enough bone to hold an implant, bone grafting will likely be required. In this case, grafting is the process of taking bone from another source and adding it to your jaw bone. A graft could come from your mouth or chin, or in some instances, it could even come from an outside bone source. If bone grafting is necessary, the procedure could add an extra 4 to 12 months to complete the dental implant process.

The Abutment

Next, comes the addition of the abutment, which is the piece that connects the implant with the tooth. The abutment attaches directly to the implant with a screw. The abutment is often made of titanium, gold, or porcelain, and is cut down to a tooth-like shape so that the crown can easily and securely be attached.

The Restoration

After the implant and abutment are in place, the crown is introduced. The crown is the part that looks like a tooth. Crowns are typically made of porcelain, metal, or a fusion of porcelain and metal alloy. Once the restoration, or crown, has been custom made to match the shape of a natural tooth, it is then screwed or cemented to the abutment and covered with tooth-colored composite when needed.

Even though dental implants can save you money and discomfort, in the long run, the cost of dental implants can be a dealbreaker for many. At Montana Dental Works, we want to eliminate this barrier while also providing patients with the highest-quality dental implant treatment. Whether you need to replace a single tooth or restore an entire smile, dental implants may be the perfect solution.

Not sure if dental implants are right for you? There’s only one way to find out—schedule a consultation with Dr. McAllister to find out your eligibility.