TOOTH & ROOT REPLACEMENT THAT LOOKS NATURAL
Whether it’s due to old age, an accident, or gum disease, the majority of adults will lose at least one tooth during their lifetime. Dental implants are the only way to permanently replace both the lost root and tooth, since dentures and dental bridges only replace the visible portion of your tooth. In order to place implants, we must conduct dental implant surgery. During the surgery, we will insert a titanium post under the gums and secure it to the jawbone. The bone and metal will fuse together through the process of osseointegration, creating a durable root system to attach your new tooth (crown). Patients appreciate how durable this solution is and how it allows them to maintain an active lifestyle, while eating all their favorite foods.
Dental Implants vs Dental Bridges
Dental bridges rely on the adjacent teeth to support the missing tooth. It connects the remaining teeth via a false prosthetic tooth, literally ‘bridging the gap’ left by a missing tooth. This provides a functional and cosmetic solution, but at the detriment of the two remaining teeth. Dental implants effectively mimic the function of a natural tooth root, which allows the restoration to be completely functional, while looking and feeling like a natural tooth!
Pros and Cons of Dental Implant Surgery
- Permanent – Once a dental implant is placed successfully, it can be used just as one would a natural tooth. The implant will blend in with the rest of the teeth. Implants are meant to be durable and long-lasting.
- Low maintenance – Implants can be treated like your other teeth. This means maintenance is the same as a natural tooth. Brush and floss the implant daily. Although these artificial teeth are not susceptible to tooth decay, the gums and surrounding teeth are still vulnerable to bacterial attack. Keep the implant clean to keep the gums and teeth around it healthy, and to prevent any jawbone infection.
- Easy to replace – One of the best qualities about dental implants is that they are made up of three separate parts: the post (root), the abutment (connector) and the restoration (crown). These three parts make it easy to replace one part of the implant rather than having to get a whole new implant put in if any one part of it fails. The crown mimics the hardness of a natural tooth, and so can still be damaged like your natural teeth. This is the part that is most often replaced.
- Keeps jawbone healthy – An implant is the only tooth replacement method that actively keeps the jawbone in use. Because the titanium post fuses with the actual jawbone, it builds up the bone and keeps it from deteriorating. This improves oral health and keeps other teeth healthy around it.
- Long process – One disadvantage of dental implants is that there is quite a process involved. Once the implants are placed, there is a significant amount of healing that must take place. Some patients see the long process as a disadvantage because they want to get back to eating normally and smiling naturally. It has been said that the dental implant process can take up to a few months to complete.
- Permanent – Depending on the needs of each patient, the permanence of dental implants can be either an advantage or a disadvantage. Often, patients desire a denture or bridge because they like the ability to take the appliance out at the end of the day. However, implants are virtually unnoticeable once they are placed successfully.
Dental Implant Procedure
Before you can begin, we need to examine you and take digital X-rays to determine the density of your jawbone. This appointment will be non-invasive and comfortable. We will discuss if dental implant surgery is right for your or if other restorative treatment options are better.
Dental Implant Surgery
On the day of your dental implant surgery, you will be given anesthesia so you will not feel anything while we place the implant. The procedure itself can take anywhere from 30 minutes for a single implant, to several hours. If you are replacing multiple teeth with implants, we will let you know how long the process will take and whether or not it will take two appointments.
Post-Operation Care for Dental Implants
Since dental implant surgery is an invasive process, you can expect to have some swelling and sensitivity after the fact. Most patients report feeling normal within a week of dental implant surgery. The first couple of days will be the most uncomfortable, but every day you should feel slightly better. Ibuprofen or Tylenol can usually be enough to increase your comfort. You can also use an icepack or cold compress for 15 minutes at a time. During this recovery process, you must take good care of your mouth in order to prevent an infection or unnecessary irritation. We generally recommend taking a couple of days off work while you are recovering. After two to five days, you will feel normal again; though your gums may remain slightly sensitive for a little longer.
QUESTIONS ABOUT DENTAL IMPLANTS
Am I a candidate for dental implants if I have crowded or crooked teeth?
Certainly. In many cases, patients will begin an orthodontic treatment and receive a dental implant when it is nearly complete. That way, space can be created for the implant if necessary. It is unwise to attempt to place an implant when there is not sufficient space. Placing a dental implant without the proper amount of space will only exacerbate the challenges you have. It is important to time the procedure correctly and properly place the implant in an area that we prepare to support the implant. Since the process requires oral surgery, it pays to do it right the first time.
Can I get implants if I have gum disease?
For your health, no. It is much better to wait until you go through the necessary treatment to eliminate the gum disease. Any existing infection can decrease the success rate of the procedure and extend your recovery process.
Is there a cutoff age for dental implants?
No, but there are a few requirements for dental implants that people of various ages may not meet. While we treat older patients and we believe it is never too late to improve a smile, the patient needs to have sufficient bone density to support a dental implant. Patients who wear dentures for a long time before seeking dental implants may struggle with a jaw bone that cannot properly support the dental implant.
Am I a candidate for dental implants if I have cavities?
Not yet, but you can be. We want to ensure your mouth is healthy prior to starting a procedure of this magnitude. We can treat your cavities by removing tooth decay and restoring your teeth, then decide if the teeth are healthy enough or if dental implants are necessary.
Can I get dental implants if my teeth fell out a long time ago?
We treat patients in all stages of life and often work with seniors who receive dentures after tooth loss and now feel dissatisfaction with the results. While dentures are effective, they have a level of inconvenience. Patients need to take the dentures out to clean and soak them on a regular basis. In other situations, patients can struggle with the dentures slipping out on accident. Unfortunately, after losing an adult tooth, the body goes through the process of resorption. Through resorption, the body leaches calcium from the jawbone for use elsewhere. A patient who has lost teeth may not have a jawbone that is dense enough for this procedure. In this case, we may need to perform a bone graft or refer you to specialist for one. The other solution to consider would be mini-dental implants, where the actual post is shorter, requiring less bone density to remain in place.
Is there any pain after dental implant surgery?
When you visit our dental office, we will discuss pain management with you. We will give you anesthesia during the actual procedure so you can relax and feel comfortable during the entire process. Afterward, you can take over-the-counter medication to manage your pain. By following the directions, you will remain fairly comfortable.
Will my new tooth be attached right away?
When you come in for a consultation, we can provide you with a good idea of when we can attach your new tooth. For the most part, we wait until the process of osseointegration takes place and the titanium post integrates into the jawbone. This provides the most durable base to attach your new crown to. Typically, this process can take anywhere from 3-6 months to complete.
What can I eat after oral surgery?
We recommend you eat foods that are soft and easy to chew or that require no chewing at all. A perfect example would be yogurt, warm soup, ice cream, smoothies, and steamed vegetables. We can provide you with a more detailed list during a consultation. Also be sure to avoid foods that are difficult to chew, like steak, or things that are sharp, like tortilla chips, since they can further irritate your gum tissue.
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Call Village Parkway Dental at 972-221-8724