Dental implants can help you smile more confidently. A dental implant is a permanent and effective way to fill gaps in your smile all while preserving your existing teeth. When teeth are lost because of disease or an accident, dental implants may be a good option for you.
You may want to choose dental implants if you have any of the following:
- Hide your smile because you have missing teeth
- Wear dentures that are uncomfortable
- Dissatisfied with your removable dentures
- Want to keep your other teeth intact
Many people choose implants to replace a single tooth or several teeth, or to support a full set of dentures. Implants are posts surgically placed into the upper or lower jawbone. They replace the root of one or more missing teeth. Dental implants are made of titanium (a strong, lightweight metal) and other materials that are well accepted by the body. More than five million implants are placed each year by dentists in the United States.
Benefits of Dental Implants
- Implants offer firm support to man-made teeth. Dentures, bridges or single teeth attached to the implants won’t slip or shift in your mouth which is a very important benefit when eating and speaking.
- This secure fit also helps man-made teeth feel more natural than typical bridges or dentures.
- Some people may find implant-supported dentures more comfortable than dentures that do not use implants.
- Where teeth are missing, dental implants also keep the jawbone from shrinking.
- Implants are a good value, with proper care they can last a lifetime.
What is Involved in Implant Placement?
Many kinds of implants are available. Treatments can take only one day, or it can take several months, or somewhere in between. Your dentist will discuss which type of implant is best for you.
Implant treatment usually involves three basic steps:
Placement of the Implant
Your dentist will carefully locate where the implant should be placed, using x-rays or other pictures. Then the dentist surgically places the implant into the jawbone. You may have some swelling and/or tenderness after surgery. The dentist may prescribe pain medicine to ease the discomfort. During the healing process, your dentist may recommend that you eat soft foods.
What makes an implant so strong is that the jawbone grows around it and holds it in place. This process, called osseointegration, takes time. It may be several months before the implant is completely integrated into the bone. Then the patient can get the permanent replacement tooth or teeth. In many cases, the implant and temporary replacement teeth can be placed in one visit.
Placement of the Prosthesis (replacement tooth or teeth)
For a single tooth implant, the dentist custom-makes a new tooth for you, called a dental crown. It is designed to look just like your other teeth. Implant-supported bridges and dentures are also custom-made to look like natural teeth and to fit your mouth properly. The replacement teeth are attached to the implant post.
Replacement teeth usually take some time to make. In the meantime, your dentist may give you a temporary crown, bridge or denture. This will help you eat and speak normally until the permanent replacement teeth are ready.
Who is a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
If you are in good general health and your jaw can support an implant, this treatment may be a good option for you. Your health is more important than your age.
However, implants are not an option for everyone. Patients should be in good health or cleared by their physicians before scheduling any implant surgery. They should have enough jawbone to support the implant or be able to have surgery to build up the jawbone. Bone can be built up with a bone graft or with sinus lift surgery.
If your dentist does recommend implant treatment, careful oral hygiene is essential for the success of the implant. You must spend time caring for the implant and making sure the area around it is very clean. If not, you may increase your risk for gum disease, which can weaken the bone and tissues needed to support the implant.
Your concerns and curiosity about dental implants are important to us. Call our office and let us discuss this excellent tooth replacement option with you.