Are missing teeth making your life miserable? Has it become difficult to eat your favorite foods, or are you embarrassed in social situations due to gaps in your smile? If so, dental implants may be able to help you and improve your quality of life. These restorations provide a permanent foundation to support new crowns, and even your existing dentures can be anchored to them to eliminate the need for messy adhesives. Dental implants can dramatically improve your health and confidence by allowing you to regain your beautiful and functional smile.
Understanding Dental Implants
Dental implants are small titanium posts that will be surgically placed into your jaw bone where you are missing teeth. These implants serve as anchors that act like the root for an artificial tooth. After the implants are placed and the bone has had time to heal, the jaw bone will actually fuse to the implants, making them even stronger than a normal tooth. Once the implants have been allowed to heal, replacement teeth can be secured to your implants.
While it is clear that dental implants can be beneficial in improving the function of your mouth, they have also been shown to benefit the existing bone of the jaw. Dental implants can actually prevent further bone loss.
Types of Artificial Teeth Available
When it comes to dental implants, crowns are usually chosen to replace a single tooth, and each prosthetic will attach to a singular implant. In other cases, a bridge may be used to replace multiple teeth, and it may require several implants to provide adequate support.
Full arch prosthetics could be used to replace all teeth in the lower or upper jaw. With this type of restoration, the total number of the implants used will depend on how much bone is available and other factors. An overdenture may be able to attach to a bar, while a fixed prosthetic will be permanent and can only be removed by your dentist.
Dental Implant Candidates
If you are interested in dental implants, it is important to first see if you are a candidate. An evaluation with a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon is essential, and you may need to have a special radiograph taken to further examine your condition. We'll help evaluate your unique, individual situation and explain your options.
The Surgical Procedure
Your dental needs are unique to you, so we offer individualized treatment plans for each patient. In some cases, bone grafting may be needed prior to placement of the implants, especially if there isn't enough bone available to properly support the restoration. If you have enough bone or your bone is reconstructed, the implants will be surgically put into place.
After the titanium posts have been implanted, you'll need to wait at least four months so that the bone can fuse to them. In some cases, the gum tissue may grow over the implants, so a procedure may be needed to uncover them before tooth replacement. Temporary dentures may be available during this time, and after your permanent restorations are put into place, the implant itself will be entirely invisible. In total, the procedure will take 6–8 months, but most patients report minimal disruptions to their daily lives.
In some cases, the implants won't need to be placed under the gum line. If this is your situation, a tiny healing cap can be secured over the top of the implant. These implants won't require another procedure to uncover them, but they will still need the entire four months of healing time prior to placing the artificial teeth. In certain situations, a non-restorable tooth may be removed, and an implant placed right away.
Dental implants are complicated procedures, and they will require the skills and expertise of both your general dentist and an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Our doctors will perform the actual implantation surgery along with extractions and bone grafting, if needed. Your dentist will be responsible for creating and fitting the permanent teeth as well as making any temporary teeth you might need to wear throughout the healing process.
Type of Anesthesia
Both the surgical implant placement and bone grafting can be performed in the office, and general or local anesthesia will be used to keep you comfortable.
Choosing Dental Implants
The more you learn about dental implants, the more you may realize that these restorations can completely change your life. When you lose multiple teeth, whether this is something you've dealt with for years or it is an entirely new situation, it can be difficult to come to terms with the change. Dental implants can open the door to improved self-confidence, allowing you to restore your old eating and socialization habits without feeling self-conscious or worrying about your traditional dentures slipping out of place.
Caring for Your Implants
After your smile has been restored with dental implants, it is important that you keep up a good oral hygiene routine so that your mouth stays healthy. You'll need to floss and brush daily, and you should also follow up with your dentist for regular examinations and cleaning. With proper care, your implants could possibly last a lifetime, making it especially important that you follow your dentist's orders in order to protect your investment.