Dental implants are used to replace both the form and the function of missing teeth. In the case of existing teeth, the tooth root holds the tooth in place. When a tooth has been lost due to infection, gum disease, an accident, or injury, a dental implant can be used in order to replace the tooth root and secure an artificial replacement for the tooth.
The actual dental implant is a metal screw designed to thread into the jawbone and allow for the attachment of a variety of prosthetic dental replacements. Most of the time, the implant is made of medical grade titanium or a titanium alloy. Titanium is used due to its excellent compatibility with human biology. Tens of thousands of dental implant procedures are performed every year.
History of Dental Implants
Forms of dental implant procedures have been performed for thousands of years. Egyptian mummies have been discovered with gold wire implants in their jawbones, and pre-Columbian skeletal remains have even shown dental implants made of semi-precious stones.
In Europe, ancient Roman soldiers have been found with iron dental implants. In the Middle East, remains have been unearthed exhibiting ivory dental implants dating back to the Middle Ages.
Modern dental implant logy was established in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century, although the procedures popularity did not grow until the 1980s with the introduction of the titanium cylinder.
Uses of Modern Dental Implants
Dental implants can be used for a variety of replacement situations. The implants may be used to replace one single tooth, eliminating the need to grind down and alter adjacent teeth. On the other hand, they can be used to support replacement teeth for mouths which are entirely toothless.
Dental implants can be used as anchors to provide support for a fixed bridge, or to provide stability for a complete denture set, eliminating unsightly and bothersome moving and/or clicking associated with dentures.
The implants can even be used to support existing, yet loose teeth by being splinted with the dental implants.
Common Reasons for Tooth Loss
A few of the most common causes of tooth loss are infection, gum disease, injury, or accidents. When teeth are missing, it causes the remaining teeth to shift, rotate, and may cause them to become crooked. Spaces and gaps in the teeth can cause embarrassment, speech problems, and loss of self-esteem and confidence. An improper bite may also develop, making it difficult to chew food properly. Dental implants can help prevent or correct these problems.