Dental implants are steadily becoming the go-to permanent solution for patients with missing teeth. If you’ve experienced tooth loss in your past or you’re about to undergo extractions, you may already be interested in dental implants as a possible solution.
Dental implants have been around since the ’70s, but numerous advancements in technology and technique have made today’s modern implants superior to most other forms of restorative care. More often than not dentists will highly recommend dental implants over other tooth loss solutions if a patient is a candidate.
If you have no experience with dental implants and need a crash course introduction, we’ve got your back! Here is a rundown on the basics of dental implants to help you feel prepared for a consultation at First Dental Associates.
A dental implant is made of three parts:
The titanium post is placed within the jawbone and an abutment is attached to the top of the screw-like post head. This abutment serves as the foundation for the fake tooth. The finished crown conceals the abutment and looks just like a natural tooth.
Dental implant technology has also expanded to the world of dental bridges and dentures. If you’re missing multiple teeth or all of your teeth, you have the option of implant-supported bridges or implant-supported dentures.
In terms of how they work, dental implants strongly mimic natural teeth. After your implant is placed a process called osseointegration occurs in which your jawbone will bond to the post. The result is a secure, stable post that functions just like the root of a tooth. It’s every bit as strong and capable of normal chewing pressure.
Dental implants have a success rate of over 95% and can last for well over 20 years or more. The dental crown itself has a lifespan of about 10 to 15 years as standard, though longer is possible.
Here are some of the major advantages of dental implants:
As far as drawbacks go, there are two to be aware of.
Firstly, dental implants are a more expensive treatment option. However, their cost versus value makes them a fantastic investment. In the long run, you’ll spend less on a dental implant than on a dental bridge or dentures.
Secondly, dental implants do have a lengthy healing period that spans anywhere from four to six months. Most patients with dental implants will quickly agree that they’re well worth the wait, however.
Ideal candidates for dental implants are older teens, adults, and seniors who are healthy overall and don’t have any serious health conditions. Candidates also need to have fairly healthy gums. While a dental implant can replace a decayed tooth, healthy gums are a must.
Health conditions that may make you a high-risk candidate include diabetes, cancer, immune systems disorders, and heart disease. Alcoholism and tobacco use can also reduce the success of a dental implant. Keep in mind that medications can also affect dental implants. You’ll notice that your dentist will ask you plenty of questions about your health history and medications for this reason.
If your dental implant consultation goes well and you’re deemed a candidate, you can expect your treatment plan to have about five or six steps.
Step 1: Any underlying oral health issues will be addressed, such as the removal of the decayed tooth that will be replaced with the implant.
Step 2: If needed, a bone graft will be performed. This is usually the case if your tooth has already been missing for a while and bone loss has occurred. The healing process for this step can add an additional few months of healing.
If you don’t need a bone graft, you’ll move right along to step 3.
Step 3: Your dentist will place the implant post. In some cases, this will happen during the same appointment as the removal of a decayed/damaged tooth. After placement, you’ll go through a four to six month healing period while osseointegration occurs.
Step 4: Once osseointegration is complete you’ll come back for a checkup and to have a healing cap placed on top of the now healed implant. This requires some removal of the gum tissue that’s grown over the implant. This will heal in about two weeks.
Step 5: In this next appointment the healing cap will be replaced with the abutment. You may also have a temporary or permanent crown placed in the same appointment. If you received a permanent crown you’re now done with treatment.
Step 6: If you received a temporary crown, your final appointment will be the placement of your permanent crown.
The healing period for a dental implant can seem intimidating, but we assure you that we’ll do everything possible to ensure you’re comfortable.
The average patient will feel sore and tender for the first couple of days after the implant post has been placed. This is completely normal as a dental implant is a surgical procedure, making it more invasive than a filling or crown. Discomfort can be controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers and we’ll supply you with detailed instructions on aftercare.
You will need to be very careful with your diet during the first few weeks, eating soft foods and ensuring your meals are as nutritious as possible to aid with swift healing.
After you’re fully healed and your dental implant is finished, you can treat your new faux tooth just as if it was a natural one. Continue with a great at-home oral care regimen and biannual dental visits as recommended by your dentist.
The first step to getting dental implants is to book a consultation appointment by calling our office.
During your consultation, we’ll evaluate your current oral health, determine if you’re a candidate, and design a treatment plan that will work best for your individual smile. From there we’ll schedule your next appointments and you’ll be well on your way to a beautiful, permanent solution for your tooth loss woes.