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Are Dental Implants Right for You?

Overview of Dental Implants

Dental implants are used to replace the gap left behind by a missing tooth or teeth. They can also serve as anchors for an implant-supported bridge or dentures. This permanent replacement for tooth loss consists of a metal post that replaces the roots of natural teeth, providing a strong, secure base for the tooth replacement option chosen by your dentist. Dental implants closely resemble natural teeth, restoring the look and function to your smile. Since they’re securely attached to the bone, they won’t ever come loose or feel uncomfortable like dentures sometimes do.

The two types of implants approved by the American Academy of Implant Dentistry are subperiosteal implants and endosteal implants. Subperiosteal implants are placed on top of the jawbone, just beneath the gum tissue. Endosteal implants are more common and are inserted directly into the jawbone.

Dental implants are comprised of three parts:

  1. The post, or body of the implant, is the portion that’s embedded in the jawbone. Since it lies below the gum tissue, the body of the implant works as an artificial tooth root. It’s composed of titanium and has a cylindrical, screw-like appearance. Titanium is a material that’s compatible with the body, and it’s very durable, forming a sturdy foundation.
  2. The abutment is the portion that attaches to the body of the implant and is placed at and above the gums. This part supports and secures the dental restoration that’s placed on top.
  3. Attached to the abutment is the crown, and it’s the portion that looks just like your natural teeth. It’s customized to ensure that it matches in shape and color.

Dental implant surgery requires multiple outpatient procedures. Since healing time is needed between each procedure, appointments must be spaced out over several months. You’ll receive anesthesia during each procedure to ensure that you feel comfortable.

The first step involves scheduling a consultation at our office. During this appointment, X-rays are taken and your dentist will carefully examine your mouth to determine if dental implants are right for you.

If you currently have teeth in the locations where the implants will be placed, they will be extracted before proceeding. In addition, if you have inadequate bone tissue in your jaw, a bone graft must be performed. A strong jawbone is needed to support the dental implant. The healing time for a bone graft is several months. However, tooth extraction and bone grafting are not required for every implant patient.

During placement of the dental implants, an incision is made in the gum tissue to expose the bone underneath. Then, holes are drilled where the implants will be placed. After securely inserting the titanium implant into the bone, the area is sutured so the healing process can begin. The healing phase usually takes several months since an essential process called osseointegration must take place. This is when the implant and bone fuse together, creating a strong foundation for the implant. Osseointegration occurs over a period of several months.

Once the jawbone and implant are fused, the abutment is attached to the implant during a minor surgery. After the gum tissue has healed over a period of about two weeks, dental impressions are created during your next appointment. The impressions are sent to a dental laboratory that will create a customized crown. The final step of the procedure is attaching the crown securely to the abutment.

Is a Bone Graft Required for Dental Implants?

For certain patients, bone grafting is necessary before receiving implants. If you’ve lost bone in your jaw, the quantity and quality of the remaining bone may be unsuitable for placing dental implants. However, with a bone graft procedure, there are materials that can be used to increase the density and volume of bone in the jaw, creating a stable base for the implants.

A bone graft can be performed on both the lower and upper jaws, and there are several types of grafting materials that can be used. They include bone taken from your own body, compatible synthetic bone, and bone from donor tissue. The severity of bone loss and where the graft is needed will determine the grafting material used. Major bone grafts have an extensive recovery period of several months, but it’s possible to perform some minor bone grafts on the same day as the dental implant surgery.

After Dental Implant Surgery

After surgery to place dental implants, it’s completely normal to experience some degree of pain and discomfort. You will likely receive a prescription for pain medicine from your dentist or oral surgeon. For mild pain, an over-the-counter pain reliever can provide relief. Facial swelling and bruising and minor bleeding can also be expected. Bleeding will gradually subside as the surgical site heals, and you can apply an ice pack to reduce swelling. For the first several days following surgery, it’s advisable to eat mostly soft foods. If you have any questions about the healing process, or if your symptoms don’t improve within a few days, please call our office.

Benefits and Advantages of Dental Implants

Since dental implants look and function just like your natural teeth, they’re very easy to care for. Simply brush and floss daily and make sure to visit your dentist every six months for a professional cleaning and exam. This will help to ensure that the dental implants last a lifetime. Take a look at these additional benefits of dental implants:

  • Comfort
  • Easier to chew
  • Improved oral health
  • Preservation of bone and prevention of future bone loss
  • Natural appearance
  • Improved speech
  • High success rate
  • Convenience

What Are the Disadvantages of Dental Implants?

Although there are numerous benefits associated with dental implants, there are a few disadvantages to consider, including:

  • High cost
  • May not be covered by insurance
  • Risks associated with surgery and anesthesia
  • Lengthy procedure with many steps involved
  • Crowns may need to be replaced in the future

Whether you’re looking to replace a single tooth or many, we have options available that will restore your oral health and help you reclaim a beautiful, natural-looking smile. Dental implants are an ideal treatment for missing teeth. Call our office today to schedule your consultation with one of our compassionate and experienced dentists.

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