If you have missing teeth, dental implants feel natural—more than any other form of tooth replacement. Unlike an uncomfortable partial denture or a dental bridge, dental implants can make you forget you ever had missing teeth.
Do Dental Implants Feel Like Real Teeth?
Most patients agree that dental implants feel like real teeth. In 2020, the International Journal of Implant Dentistry published a seven-year follow-up study of dental implant patients. All patients said they were very satisfied or satisfied with their dental implants in these areas:
- Ability to chew
- General satisfaction
And in a 2020 poll of implant dentists, many reported that their patients tell them “they forget the implants are not their natural teeth.”
Why Do Dental Implants Feel Natural?
Three reasons that dental implants feel natural are their structure, the implant procedure, and the healing process.
- Their structure – Mimics natural tooth structure
- The procedure – Positions implants like natural teeth
- The healing process – Solidly anchors implants
What Is the Structure of a Dental Implant?
The structure of a dental implant mimics a natural tooth and helps it feel real. Implant components include a root form, an abutment, and a dental crown.
- Root form – A small post, usually made of titanium, replaces a missing tooth’s root. Screw-like threads around the post vary in depth to influence where and how much the root form touches your jawbone. Root forms are available in different diameters and lengths. Your implant dentist will select a size comparable to your missing tooth’s roots.
- Abutment – A small connector screws into the top of a dental implant. The top of the abutment sits just above the gumline to support a dental crown. Stock abutments are available in a variety of angles and sizes to accommodate your dental crown. Some implant dentists offer custom abutments.
- Dental crown – A ceramic crown—often referred to as a “cap”—replaces the visible portion of your tooth above the gumline.
After all implant components are in place, you will not feel the abutment or the root form. If you touch the ceramic crown with your finger or tongue, it will feel like a natural tooth.
How Does the Procedure Help Dental Implants Feel Natural?
The dental implant procedure is another factor that helps implants feel like real teeth. Unlike a partial denture with claps around teeth adjacent to the missing one—or a dental bridge that covers them—a dental implant does not require support from other teeth.
The procedure begins after numbing the implant sites and sedating you.
- Root form – During a minor in-office procedure, your implant dentist will use 3-D technology to make an incision through your gums. After making a precise opening in your jawbone, your dentist will gently place the root form into the bone—like a tooth root.
- Abutment – Sometimes, the abutment, or connector, is attached to the implant during surgery. Otherwise, after three to five months of healing, your dentist will secure the abutment to the dental implant. Your dentist will take an impression of the abutment to record its shape and size for crafting a custom-fitting crown.
- Crown – Your dentist and a ceramist will customize a crown for precise vertical and horizontal alignment on the abutment. The precision creates harmony with adjacent teeth and helps your dental implant feel like a real tooth. And your dentist will check your bite (the way your upper and lower teeth meet) to ensure your crown does not sit too high or too low. After checking your bite, your dentist will screw or cement your crown to the abutment for a secure fit. The crown will not lift or wiggle.
The dental implant procedure builds your tooth replacement from the foundation up and ensures each component is securely in place. Your implant will feel like a real tooth.
What Is the Dental Implant Healing Process Like?
A process called osseointegration keeps dental implants stable like healthy natural teeth. When natural teeth are healthy, they do not move, wiggle, or fall out—and neither do healthy dental implants. After implant surgery, your dentist will let the implants and your jawbone rest. During this time, osseointegration occurs. It keeps implants stable and helps them feel natural.
What is osseointegration?
Osseointegration is a process that occurs when living bone fuses with the surface of an artificial implant. In dentistry, the fusion occurs between your jawbone and a dental implant. The process usually takes two to four months.
- Stability – Your jawbone cells grow into the threads of the root form and lock it in place.
- Strength – The solidly anchored root form can support an abutment and crown and help them function like a natural tooth.
- Comfort – The strength and stability help your implant feel comfortable like a healthy tooth.
Promote healing during osseointegration
It is essential to diligently follow your implant dentist’s instructions for post-operative care during the healing process. Your cooperation will promote proper healing and help your implants last.
Although you will wear a temporary crown after implant surgery, your dentist will not attach your final custom crown to the implant until osseointegration is complete. After your dentist attaches the crown, the anchored implant will feel like a real tooth.
How Do Dental Implants Function?
Dental implants function like natural teeth, restore function you may have lost due to missing teeth, and keep your jawbone healthy.
Dental implants do not interfere with your speech. If missing teeth cause you to pronounce words with a slur or lisp, dental implants can resolve those issues and help you speak naturally.
Eating with dental implants is easy. Follow your dietary restrictions during the healing process, and your implants can help you enjoy eating for a lifetime.
- Food choices – After the implants fuse with your bone, you can eat your favorite foods again.
- Avoid trapped food – Unlike a dental bridge, food will not get trapped beneath a dental implant.
Like natural tooth roots, dental implants stimulate the jawbone and prevent the shrinkage that occurs when teeth are missing.
How Oral Hygiene Keeps Dental Implants Feeling Natural
Proper oral hygiene is essential to keep your dental implants functioning and feeling like natural teeth. Treat implants like your natural teeth.
- Floss – Flossing daily removes food particles that promote bacteria, lead to gum disease, and increase the risk of implants loosening.
- Brush – Brush your teeth and implants twice daily.
- Get regular cleanings and exams – Your dentist and hygienist will ensure your teeth, gums, and implants are healthy, clean, and functioning well.
Dental Implants Look Natural
The way your implants look can affect your smile, self-esteem, and confidence. Not only do dental implants feel like natural teeth—they look natural.
Your dental crowns will be the only visible portion of your implants. Dental ceramics help your restoring dentist and ceramist craft crowns to mimic the shade, translucence, and gloss of natural teeth. People will notice the beauty of your smile, but they will not know you have dental implants.
Find Out If Dental Implants Are Right for You
Dental implant structure, the process, and the healing period will help your implants feel, function, and look like real teeth. But much of the success depends on the training and experience of your implant dentist. In San Francisco, Dr. Antigone Skoulas maintains high standards for implant placement and restoration. She and her team strive to provide you with high-quality, long-lasting tooth replacement.
If you would like to know if dental implants are right for you, call us to schedule a consultation or an exam or schedule your appointment online.