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Are Dental Implants Right for You?

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants mimic natural tooth roots and are a long-lasting option for replacing missing teeth. The implants consist of small titanium posts that are placed into your jaw, providing a stable base for replacement teeth, an implant-supported bridge, or other dental restoration. Dental implants can even replace an entire set of upper or lower teeth. Many patients choose dental implants because they look, function, and feel like natural teeth. They also appeal to patients who find traditional bridges or removable dentures uncomfortable.

Subperiosteal and endosteal are the two main types of dental implants to choose from. Subperiosteal implants are placed on the jawbone, typically below the gumline. As the most common type of implant, endosteal implants are implanted directly into the jawbone.

There are three main components of a dental implant:

  1. The implant itself, known as the body of the implant or post, is surgically inserted into the jawbone. This component is made of titanium and is small and shaped like a screw. Since it’s very strong, it can serve as a base for an artificial tooth or implant-supported bridge.
  2. The connector, also called the abutment, fits securely over the body of the implant. The abutment extends above the gumline to support the dental restoration.
  3. The crown is the part of the dental implant that functions and looks just like a real tooth. It’s attached to the abutment and can be customized to the shape and color of your natural teeth.

What Are the Steps Involved in a Dental Implant Procedure?

Dental implants require outpatient surgery, and you’ll receive anesthesia to ensure that you’re comfortable. You should be prepared for numerous appointments that are spread out over several months while the healing process occurs.

During the planning stage with your oral surgeon or dentist, you’ll receive a thorough dental examination. X-rays are also taken to determine the condition of the underlying bone and gum tissue. You’ll talk with your oral surgeon about the procedure, and you’ll be able to ask questions.

If you have any teeth that are damaged or infected, they’ll be removed. This can be completed on the same day as your implant surgery. For patients who require a bone graft, they’ll have to wait a few months for the area to heal and develop a strong base for the implant.

Once your jawbone is prepared, your oral surgeon will make an incision in your gums to expose the underlying bone. A specialized drill is then used to create holes that are deep enough to fit the implant. Once the implant is in place, the gum tissue is closed with stitches. Over the next several months, a process called osseointegration will occur. This is an important step in which the implant combines with the bone.

During the next phase, a small incision is made in the gum tissue to expose the implant so the abutment can be placed. After this area heals, you’ll return to the office so your dentist can create impressions of your teeth. This mold is used to create a custom-made dental crown, which is placed during the final step of the procedure.

When Is Bone Grafting Necessary?

Most people are considered good candidates for dental implants, but there are specific criteria that make a successful dental implant surgery much more likely. This includes having healthy gum tissue and sufficient bone mass in the jaw to firmly anchor the implant. Even if you’ve lost bone in your jaw, you might still be able to receive dental implants. With a bone graft, it’s possible to rebuild lost bone to anchor and support the implant.

The type of bone graft you receive depends on the type of material used. Materials for grafting procedures range from a graft using bone from a donor, a graft using bone from your own body, and a graft made from synthetic material. Each material has its own benefits and drawbacks, but your dentist or oral surgeon will explain these to you while developing your treatment plan.

What Should I Expect After Dental Implant Surgery?

After your surgery, it’s completely normal to feel some pain and discomfort. It’s also common to experience pain near the implant area, facial swelling and bruising, and minor bleeding. These symptoms will improve over a period of several days. Please contact our office if your symptoms worsen.

Prescription or over-the-counter pain relievers will help to manage minor discomfort. Swelling can be relieved with ice packs. Diet is also an important component of the recovery process. Part of your after-surgery care will likely include following a diet of mostly soft foods for a period of time.

What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?

Since dental implants are created to fit your mouth perfectly, you’ll never have to worry about them affecting your speech or making it difficult to speak clearly. Take a look at some of the other benefits they provide:

  • Easy care with daily brushing and flossing
  • Improved oral health
  • Enhanced durability
  • Ability to preserve bone and prevent future bone loss
  • Easier eating
  • Natural appearance
  • Convenience
  • High success rate
  • Comfort

Are There Disadvantages of Dental Implants?

Since dental insurance may not cover the procedure, dental implants can be quite costly. However, our dental office may have payment plans or financing options available to help you afford the cost of treatment. Dental implants also have these disadvantages:

  • Lengthy procedure with many steps involved
  • Crowns may need to be replaced in the future
  • Risks associated with anesthesia and surgery

If you’re considering options to restore the appearance of your smile and want to improve your overall oral health, dental implants are a safe and reliable permanent solution to missing teeth. At our office, we provide the highest level of care for all of our patients. Take the first step toward making your oral health a priority by scheduling your consultation today.

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