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Chicago, IL, dental questions: What is an implant?

Some knock-knock jokes are silly, some are boring, and some are hilarious. However, when a tooth is knock-knocked out, it's no laughing matter. In fact, a tooth missing for any reason can pose serious oral health problems. That gap in your smile is an invitation for crooked teeth, bone loss, decay, and gum disease. Fortunately, we have a serious solution. A dental implant can stop the ill effects in their tracks – and give you a smile so beautiful it will stop other people in their tracks!

What implants aren't
You have heard about the many benefits of dental implants. They keep your jawbone healthy, preserve your existing teeth, let you eat anything you want, and more. So, you are probably wondering just what they are. We'll start by explaining what implants aren't. The most common misconception is that a dental implant is a replacement tooth. It's not. Are you confused? Just read on, and we'll explain.

What they are
A dental implant is just a tiny piece of metal. It is made of high strength, lightweight, biocompatible titanium. Instead of replacing a tooth, it replaces the root. If you wonder why that is important, just think of a tree, anchored by roots that grow deep into the soil. If you want to replace a real tree with an artificial one, the first challenge is keeping it from tipping over. Similarly, teeth have roots that reach all the way to your jawbone, which hold them up.

Why they are used
When we replace a tooth, we need to keep the new one upright somehow. A denture uses the power of suction (if all teeth are being replaced), or it anchors temporarily to existing teeth. Needless to say, these methods are not as stable as the teeth they replace. A fixed bridge is solid and reliable because it is supported by real tooth roots. The problem is, those roots are attached to other teeth. We have to reduce and shape those teeth – even if they were healthy – so crowns can be fitted. The replacement teeth, along with those crowns, are part of a single unit. Additionally, neither of these options preserves your jawbone, which deteriorates without stimulation.

Completing the picture
Yes, roots are important, but we know that you want more than that. If you choose implants, what actually replaces your teeth? There are several possible answers. One of the great things about implants is their versatility. Just as a shelf bracket can support many styles of shelving, a dental implant can support many styles of restorations. A specially designed crown, along with one implant can replace an individual tooth. A dental bridge can be attached to two or three implants, rather than crowned teeth. If you have nothing but gums to chew with, a full denture plate can be fitted with attachments that snap over implants.

Call Big Smile Dental at and schedule a consultation to find out if implants are right for you.


What are Dental Implant

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