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Are Dental Implants Right for You?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 52 percent of Americans age 20-64 have all their teeth, meaning they have lost at least one permanent tooth. People lose teeth from accidents, decay, gum disease and failed root canals, and it can be a stressful process to get a replacement that is comfortable and feels like a natural tooth.

If you’re missing one or more teeth, dental implants might be the right solution for you. Our dentist can help determine if you are a good candidate for implants, depending on the density of your jawbone, your gum health and your overall health status. Contact us for a consultation and our dentist can determine if you are a suitable candidate for an implant.

What Exactly Is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is a permanent option to replace a missing tooth that looks and feels like your natural teeth would. Dental implants come in two different styles. Endosteal implants, which are placed directly into the jawbone, and subperiosteal implants, which are placed under the gumline on or about the jawbone.

In both cases, a dental implant has three different parts:

  1. The post or body: The is the part that goes into your jawbone, allowing the bone to fuse around it and hold it securely in place.
  2. The abutment: This is a connector on the top of the screw that holds the crown.
  3. The crown: This is the artificial tooth which is cemented or connected to the abutment. It is custom made to blend in with your natural teeth, and can be removable if needed.

How Do Dental Implants Work?

Dental implants work the same way as tooth roots; they provide a study base for holding a crown or artificial tooth. They require no more maintenance than natural teeth. You can eat, speak and laugh the same way you would if you had a healthy, natural tooth in the spot.

Dental professionals have used implants to replace lost teeth for more than 50 years. They are safe, reliable and the treatment process can be performed by professionals throughout the country. When an implant is placed into or on the jawbone, the abutment is connected to the post, allowing the crown to be held securely in place and function like a normal tooth.

Do I Need a Bone Graft Procedure Before Getting Implants?

You may wonder, “Do I need a bone graft before getting implants?” During your initial consultation, your dentist will assess your jawbone and see if it can hold an implant. If you do need a bone graft, your implant process cannot start until you have the graft and the bone heals. This usually takes several months.

A bone graft isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds, in most cases. Your dentist can use your own bone, donor bone or synthetic bone to build up your jawbone. Each patient has unique needs; your dentist will help you choose the best material for you. Typically, you are asleep during the procedure or numbed with a local anesthetic.

What Is Dental Implant Surgery Like?

Dentists usually do dental implant surgery in stages, although it may be possible to combine steps. During the last part of the process, your dentist will take an impression of your mouth so the dental lab can make your custom crown. Generally, the steps are as follows:

  • Damaged teeth are removed
  • Bone grafts are performed
  • Implants are placed
  • Bone and Incisions are allowed to heal
  • Abutment is placed
  • Crown is applied

Placing the Implant

A small incision is made in your gum so your dentist or oral surgeon can place the implant into your jawbone or above the jawbone, depending on your implant type. The bone will fuse to the implant, creating a strong artificial tooth root. This process will take a few months.
Putting the Abutment on the Post

Your dentist will make another small incision in your gum to expose the top of the implant. The abutment, which holds the crown, goes on the implant. Your gums will have to heal around the abutment.

Putting on Your Crown

Before the crown can be placed, your dentist will need to take measurements to ensure that the lab creates an artificial tooth that looks and feels like a natural tooth would. You can choose to have a permanent crown or a removable one. The last step of the process consists of your dentist cementing or attaching the custom-made crown on the abutment.

What Are the Aftercare Instructions for Implant Surgery?

Your dentist may suggest OTC pain relievers for any discomfort. You may also have a small amount of bruising and swelling. Complications are rare as dental implant surgery is safe and predictable. Your dentist will give you aftercare instructions which you need to follow to ensure healing occurs as quickly as possible.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Dental Implants?

As with anything you purchase, there are gains and inevitable cons. Fortunately, our patients believe the gains far outweigh the losses.

Gains

Eliminates Jawbone Deterioration: Without a tooth root or dental implant, the jawbone will slowly degrade, which can make your face appear sunken and old-looking.

Convenience: Dental bridges are another option for replacing a missing tooth. Your dentist will have to shape the healthy teeth on either side of the missing tooth to hold the bridge. Implants let you keep the adjoining teeth intact, allowing for a more convenient replacement option.

Easy Care: You have to practice good hygiene with an implant, but it is only brushing and flossing normally.

Long-Tern Solution: Once you get an implant, you can expect it to last 20 years or more.

Improved Self-Esteem: You’ll have more self confidence once you no longer have a missing tooth in your mouth.

Losses

Dental Implants Are Expensive: Implants are the costliest tooth replacement option, but this is only the upfront cost. In the long-term, they are a better value because they last long and don’t require any maintenance.

Dental Implant Failure: While it is rare, dental implants can fail because of poor dental hygiene or medical conditions. You may also experience complications from surgery, leading to problems with the implant.

Additional Dental Work or Preparation: You may need a bone graft before proceeding with implant surgery, which will delay the process and add to the cost.

Time: Dental implants are not a quick fix. You will have to invest months in the procedure in order for the implant to be properly placed.

Where Can I Find an Implant Dentist?

A dentist who is a dental implant expert will have undergone specialized training in placing implants properly. Make sure to look for a board-certified dental expert with the experience required to put you at ease. A reputable implant dentist will have no qualms about providing you with details of his or her education and expertise.

If you contact our dental practice for an implant consultation, you can feel confident you’re getting an expert opinion on whether this tooth replacement solution is right for you. We hope to hear from you soon. Call or book a consultation online for more information.

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