In the past, when people lost their tooth or teeth, partial dentures and full dentures were the solution. However, in the 1950s, Professor Per-Ingvar Branmark of Sweden unintentionally discovered the present day dental implant mechanism. Professor Per-Ingvar Branmark noticed that when titanium metal was surgically placed into the bone, the implant adheres to the bone with great tenacity. With the advancement of dental procedures due to the professor's discovery, implants instead of dentures offer a great solution for replacing missing dentition. Not only does the implanted tooth give patients the look and feel of a natural tooth, chewing and speech problems caused by the missing tooth may be restored or improved. More importantly, wearing partial or full dentures overtime may cause the loss of bone structure in the jaw and having dental implants will help preserve the bone structure of the face and maintain a more pleasing facial profile.
Dental implants are performed with the collaboration of the dental team consisting of the treatment coordinator, the general dentist, and the surgeon: either the periodontist or oral surgeon. There are three major steps to the dental implant. First, an operation performed by the surgeon places the implant into the jaw bone. The implant acts like the root or anchor of the tooth. A waiting period of about 4-6 months will allow healing and fusion of the implant to the bone. Second, another surgical procedure performed by the surgeon consists of placing a healing cap on top of the implant. Allowing approximately 2 weeks of healing, the general dentist will then remove the healing cap and replace it with an abutment. An abutment is an attachment that connects the implant to the crown. In the third and final step, the crown is placed on top of the abutment.Some implant procedures may combine steps one and two, but regardless of the method chosen, the final result of the dental implant provides the look and feel similar to natural teeth.