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Wake Forest dentist highlights the benefits over dentures or bridges when asked, “What are dental implants?”

What are dental implants

Dental implants are the next best thing to the real teeth you or a loved one may have lost to decay or other trauma.

Implant-supported teeth are designed differently from other types of restorations. These differences are particularly pronounced when comparing implants to those methods historically considered as preferred ways to replace missing teeth: bridges and dentures. Just because these types of restorations have been accepted for a long time, doesn’t mean they are the best method to restore the look of your smile and the function of your teeth.


The dental implant difference


A house without a foundation or a bridge without its supports isn’t a functional house or bridge at all. Think of dental procedures to replace teeth in much the same way.


Dentures are designed to look like your natural teeth. These lab-made teeth sit on a base that resembles your gums. Dentures are also designed to function like natural teeth, but they miss the mark. Traditionally dentures simply rest on top of the gums.


Natural teeth, though, are made of parts that contribute to a strong, stable whole.


Likewise, dental implant-supported teeth are made from three different parts that create a durable replacement for missing teeth:

  • The dental implant
  • The abutment
  • The crown

To build your new tooth, Dr. Edmond Suh partners with one of the country’s foremost oral surgeons. This specialist surgically places the dental implant in your jawbone. A post made from medical-grade titanium it is designed to be your new tooth root.


Titanium has many unique properties. In addition to being lightweight yet strong, titanium fuses to underlying bone. This natural process is called “osseointegration.”


The implant fused to underlying bone provides a stable foundation for the rest of your new tooth to sit on. This type of foundation is missing from traditional options for tooth replacement, which also include dental bridges.


Bridges, too, are not secured to the jawbone. They are held in place by the two supporting teeth on either side of the lab-made tooth or “pontic.”


Think of the next part of the tooth or “abutment” as a connector. This small component will be placed on top of the implant. The third and final part of your new tooth, the dental crown, will then be secured to the abutment.


By building the entire tooth, from the root below the gum line to the crown above the gum line, you avoid the many complications associated with conventional methods that only acknowledge the part of the tooth above the gum line.


Some of these complications include slipping associated with dentures, which can lead to problems eating and speaking, and the need for relining. Over the longer term, the bone doesn’t get stimulation from chewing and other functions atrophies just like muscles after prolonged inactivity. This can lead to bone loss, which ages your face.


Dr. Suh can provide more details for patients who want to know: “What are dental implants?” during a consultation at his Wake Forest office. Call 919 556 6200.


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