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Are Dental Implants Right for You?

What Is a Dental Implant?

Dental implants serve as replacement tooth roots that are surgically inserted into the jawbone. They’re used in conjunction with dental crowns, an implant-supported bridge, or partial or full dentures to fill the gaps caused by tooth loss. Once the implant fuses to the jaw, it provides a solid, long-lasting foundation for replacing one or more missing teeth. In comparison to other restoration options, such as traditional dentures and bridges, dental implants offer superior comfort and durability. Once the restoration is complete, dental implants function, feel, and look exactly like real teeth.

Dental implants are available in two different types:
Endosteal implants are attached directly to the jawbone and are the most commonly used implant.
Rather than fusing directly to the jawbone, subperiosteal implants are placed on top of the jawbone and under the gumline.

A dental implant consists of these three components:

  1. The implant itself is the component that’s permanently attached to the jaw. Also called a post or the body of the implant, this component is similar in appearance to a screw. Since they’re made of titanium, they’re strong, durable, and completely compatible with the body. Once fused to the jawbone, the implant acts as a base for the dental crown or implant-supported denture.
  2. The abutment functions like a connector and attaches to the body of the implant. It sits slightly above the gumline and supports the tooth replacement.
  3. The crown is the part of the implant that is visible and attaches to the top of the abutment. The crown is designed to blend in with the rest of your teeth, creating a natural appearance.

What Should I Expect During a Dental Implant Procedure?

Most dental implant surgeries are performed as an outpatient procedure while you’re under anesthesia. There are multiple steps involved, and you can expect to wait several months while your gum tissue and jawbone heal.

A consultation at our dental office is the first place to start. During this appointment, your mouth will be examined and we’ll take X-rays. If we determine that you’re an ideal candidate, we’ll give you detailed information about your treatment plan and the recovery process.

If there is a tooth located where the implant will be placed, the damaged tooth will be extracted. If your jawbone isn’t dense enough to support implants, a bone graft will be performed. Keep in mind that these specific procedures aren’t necessary for all implant patients.

During dental implant surgery, the gum tissue is cut to expose the jawbone. Holes are drilled into the bone where the implant will be inserted. Sutures are used to close the incision after positioning the titanium implant. After this phase, there will be a recovery period of several months. As you heal, osseointegration will take place, which is the process of the titanium implant and the jawbone fusing together.

Once the area has healed and osseointegration has occurred, the abutment is attached to the implant. Recovery from this phase takes about two weeks. Impressions of your mouth are taken during the next step, and the dental crown will be manufactured based on this mold. The final step of the implant procedure is attaching the dental crown to the abutment.

Is a Bone Graft Necessary?

Having healthy gum tissue free from periodontal disease and having sufficient bone in your jaw are the two main factors for determining candidacy for dental implants. Since the implants are placed into the jawbone, it’s crucial for there to be enough bone to support and secure the implants. A bone graft can benefit patients who have lost bone density in their jaw, increasing the chances of successful implant placement.

There are several types of grafting materials available, such as transplanting a piece of bone from a different part of the body into the jaw, transplanting donor material, or transplanting manmade materials that are compatible with the body. Each type has advantages and disadvantages, so your dentist or oral surgeon will explain the different grafting materials available while discussing your treatment plan.

What to Expect After Dental Implant Surgery

For most patients, there is some minor bleeding, swelling, bruising, and discomfort for the first several days following the dental implant procedure. However, your dentist or oral surgeon will give you specific instructions regarding pain management, which will include over-the-counter pain medicine, prescription pain relievers, or applying ice packs to the affected areas. You’re encouraged to call our office if your symptoms get worse or don’t improve within a few days. A soft diet is also recommended for the first several days following the procedure while the surgical site heals.

What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants?

One of the main benefits of dental implants is their durability. With good oral health habits, dental implants can last a lifetime. Here are some other benefits of dental implants for you to consider:

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

What Are the Drawbacks of Dental Implants?

Now that you know about the many benefits of dental implants, it’s time to consider these potential disadvantages associated with the procedure:

  • Risks associated with surgery and anesthesia
  • High cost
  • Crowns may require replacement in the future
  • Procedure may not be covered by insurance
  • Lengthy procedure with many steps involved

Whether you’re missing one or more teeth, it’s possible to improve the health of your mouth and your self-confidence with dental implants. Our dentists have the training and experience needed to ensure the best outcome for your smile. Let our team of professionals help you reclaim your confident smile and improve your oral health. Call us today!

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