The Root of Things: Dental Implants in Detail
If your dentist has advised you to have a dental implant installed, you may be wondering exactly what you're getting yourself in for—even if you're perfectly happy to take their advice and have one installed. It's a very commonplace procedure, and certainly not something that will cause you discomfort or pain. In fact, once the implant is installed, it's likely to make you more comfortable, making it easier to eat and speak than it was with the gap or damaged tooth. Beyond that, however, here's the more in-depth info that you might like to know.
Older implants were often visible in the mouth because they were made of solid metal. Sometimes they were coloured gold to improve their appearance somewhat. However, these days they are generally disguised to look exactly like a natural tooth. This is achieved by the use of ceramic crowns, shaped and coloured like real teeth. Because of this, it will essentially be invisible in your mouth; only you and your dentist will really know that there's an implant in there, and it certainly won't be detectable when you smile.
Apart from the ceramic crown on the surface, the implants themselves—and the screws which help them take root in your mouth—are mostly made out of titanium. This is used because it's a safe, strong and non-reactive metal; it's the same material often used in joint replacements for this exact reason. Sometimes alternates are used, but your dentist will be able to advise you of this.
It can be difficult to get information about how long dental implants last because different answers refer to different parts of the implant. Although people sometimes take 'implant' to mean the whole article, including the crown, that's not actually the case; the implant itself is just the metal 'screw' that sits inside your gum. The top part, imitating your tooth, is the crown. The lifespans of these are different. Neither is a 'short-term' solution, though. Your crown should last over a decade, and the implant itself may never need to be replaced. Of course, this assumes regular dental checkups and great oral hygiene.
There's a great sense of relief that comes from having a gap in your mouth filled, or a damaged tooth finally replaced. Thankfully, it's also a very simple procedure to sit through and an easy solution to take care of—so really, you can have the best of both worlds. Be sure to ask your dentists any other questions you may have before you have one implanted, but you should find it a very easy fix indeed.