How Do Dental Implants Compare to Natural Teeth?

If your oral surgeon suggests a dental implant to replace missing teeth, you’re probably wondering how the two compare. While a dental implant isn’t the same as a natural tooth, the look and function are very similar. In this guide, we’ll explain how dental implants compare to natural teeth so you’ll feel more comfortable with your upcoming procedure.

How many teeth do we have?

Most adults have 28 or 32 teeth (depending on whether you have your wisdom teeth or not).

These teeth include your:

  • Incisors: You have four incisors on top and four incisors on the bottom. These are your center teeth.
  • Canines: You have two canines on top and two canines on the bottom. These teeth are next to your incisors. They’re pointy and help you tear food more easily.
  • Premolars: You have eight premolars total. These teeth are next to your canines and help you chew food.
  • Molars: You have either eight or 12 molars, depending on whether you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed. These are your strongest teeth, and you use them to tear tough foods like meat.

The Parts of a Tooth

Each tooth has three layers. These are:

  1. Enamel: The enamel is the only part of the tooth you can see. It’s hard and white (or off-white) and it protects the inner layers of your tooth.
  2. Dentin: Dentin is the biggest layer of your tooth and it helps protect the innermost layer. Dentin material is a lot like bone material. It’s tough but also sensitive.
  3. Pulp: The pulp is the most sensitive, softest layer of your tooth. It mostly comprises blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue.

Your teeth also have roots, which connect the tooth itself to your jaw. These roots are below your gum line, so you can’t see them, but their function is important.

The Parts of a Dental Implant

Each dental implant also has three parts. While an implant is designed to look and function like a tooth, the parts are a little different.

  1. Prosthetic: The prosthetic (or restoration) may also be called a crown, bridge or denture, depending on which type of restoration you need. You can see the prosthetic when you look in a mirror. The rest of an implant is at or below your gum line.
  2. Abutment: The abutment is the middle part of an implant. It connects the restoration to the implant itself.
  3. Fixture: The fixture is metal and functions like a root. It connects the abutment and restoration to your jawbone.

Your surgeon may recommend different types of restorations for different reasons. A crown is usually reserved for single missing teeth. In some cases, your surgeon may recommend a crown for two missing teeth.

Implant-supported bridges or implant-supported dentures are for multiple missing teeth. Sometimes, a person’s natural teeth can’t support a bridge or the missing teeth are spaced too far apart for a bridge. In these instances, the surgeon may recommend a denture instead.

Find an Oral Surgeon in Bismarck, ND

If you’re considering a dental implant, Dr. Michael Lassle can help. He’s the oral surgeon at Dakota Prosthodontics and Implant Center and he specializes in dental implants. Schedule a consultation with an oral surgeon in Bismarck to determine whether a dental implant is right for you.

Content found on this blog is intended for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional judgement, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please speak with a professional if you have concerns about your oral health.

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