Although you may be considering a dental implant to replace a tooth that you have lost, you may still know little about the appliance and what to expect from it. Here are a few details about dental implants to help you better understand them before you actually have one installed.

Where is a dental implant actually positioned?

A traditional dental implant is installed inside the jawbone. The implant, which is made from titanium, is inserted during an outpatient procedure and basically resides where a normal tooth root would. Over time, the implant becomes "locked" into place through a stabilizing process called osseointegration. 

During osseointegration, the bone of the jaw and the implant connect or integrate, stabilizing the device. 

In some instances, an implant is not placed in the bone of the jaw. If there is insufficient bone mass or problems from a prior failed traditional implant, an implant may be positioned inside the bone of the cheek. These specialized implants, which are called zygomatic implants, are also stabilized through osseointegration.

Can you increase or decrease the likelihood of an implant failure?

There are certain behaviors and conditions that are associated with a higher chance of implant failure. People who smoke, have poorly controlled blood sugar, or suffer from advanced periodontal disease may experience an implant failure. 

Smokers may have lower blood-oxygen levels and reduced circulation at the wound site. Also, people with diabetes who have inconsistent blood-sugar levels may also have issues with healing delays. In addition, patients with periodontal disease may experience problems when the soft tissues of the mouth do not heal properly around an implant because of inflammation and infection.

Still, many of the conditions associated with implant failure are controllable. By forgoing tobacco use, controlling your blood sugar through medication and exercise, and avoiding periodontal problems through meticulous dental care, you can increase the likelihood of a successful implant.

Bruxism, or nightly teeth grinding, can also be problematic if a mouth guard is not worn during periods of rest.

What happens if you eventually lose your other teeth after an implant has been placed?

A dental implant can last for the remainder of your life. Even if you lose your other teeth to decay or trauma, the implant can still be helpful.

Dental implants can serve as supportive bases for attached teeth-replacement appliances, such as all-on-fours, fixed dental bridges and traditional implant-supported dentures.

To learn more about dental implants and what you can expect from their placement, schedule a consultation with a dentist such as Port Orange Dentist in your area.