So you've gone and lost your teeth. Idiot. Now what are you going to do? Wear dentures? Dentures are painful, they keep you from eating, they look stupid and they damage your jawbone. Your other options are bridgework or implants.
I'm not going to lie. Dental Implants are extremely pricey. In Canada, no extended medical or dental plan covers them. They require going to a specialist, and those guys are only in it for the money. It'd be cheaper to get another kind of implants. However, in the long run, dental implants are worth every penny. They are the most realistic way of replacing teeth, both functionally and aesthetically.
In 1952, Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark, a Swedish surgeon, whilst conducting research into the healing patterns of bone tissue, accidentally discovered that when pure titanium comes into direct contact with the living bone tissue, the two literally grow together to form a permanent biological adhesion. He named this phenomenon "Osseo integration".
Prof. Brånemark placed his first Osseo integrated implant in a patient in 1965, after many years of pre-clinical studies.
A dental implant is a small man-made titanium screw that serves as the replacement for the root portion of a missing natural tooth. The implant is placed in the bone of the upper or lower jaw and allowed to bond with the bone and serve as an anchor for the replacement tooth.
After application of anaesthetic, your dentist will expose the area of the jawbone to be implanted and prepare the bone to accept the implant. The number of incisions and bone preparations depends upon the number of implants (and teeth) being placed. The implant is carefully set into place and the gums are closed with several stitches. The healing period usually varies from as few as three months to six or more. During this time Osseo integration occurs. The bone grows in and around the implant creating a strong structural support. In fact, this bond can be even stronger than the original tooth's. When healing is complete, your implant is uncovered and an extension or abutment is attached to it. Now the implant and abutment act as a solid unit ready to support your new tooth or teeth.
An abutment is basically a post that is attached to the implant, which in turn will be attached to a crown, thus completing your new tooth.
Today, modern dental implants are routinely used in hundreds of clinics and hospitals world-wide, and sought after by thousands of patients because they have been proven to provide comfortable, permanent and attractive tooth replacements as an alternative to removable dentures and conventional bridges.
I myself have a nice pair of implants. They took just under a year to complete, and look extremely real. They feel different from my own when I run my tongue across them, but they work better. They cost a bit more than two years' tuition at UBC, but fortunately ICBC footed the bill, since I lost the originals in a nasty car accident.