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Are Dental Implants Right for You?

Are Dental Implants My Best Option?

Dental implants are a very popular solution to missing or damaged teeth due to trauma or disease. According to the CDC, more than half of adults are missing at least one permanent tooth and almost 20 percent of adults over 65 have lost all of their teeth. Your teeth are essential to your overall good health, so if you’re missing teeth or have any that are badly damaged, you should consider getting implants.

The three factors that determine the feasibility of a patient getting implants are:

  • Overall health
  • The health of your gums
  • Sufficient jawbone

The lack of sufficient jawbone won’t necessarily keep you from getting implants. That can be rectified by a bone transplant either during the post installation or as a separate procedure. Your oral surgeon will let you know if you need a bone graft and how much. Bone can be taken from elsewhere in your body or a bone substitute can be used that will encourage bone growth.

What’s Meant By a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is a lightweight titanium post that resembles a screw and it’s surgically implanted in your jawbone. The post functions for an implant like the root functions for your natural tooth. Through a process known as osseointegration, your bone will grow around the post and it will become permanently anchored in your jaw. A connector is placed at the bottom of the post, and the crown, which is the visible part of the implant, is permanently affixed to the abutment, making implants very stable.

Will Implants Help My Teeth?

Since implants are surgically implanted into your jawbone, they can help to maintain the structural integrity of your jawbone and your other teeth. Often, missing teeth cause the jawbone and the remaining teeth to become misaligned, which can result in facial malformation. As long as you practice good oral hygiene, your implants should last for a lifetime.

What’s the Implant Procedure Like?

Each implant procedure is unique to the individual, but you typically can expect the following:

  • Your surgeon will remove damaged teeth and prep the site for surgery
  • Other procedures might be performed to ensure a good implant installation
  • If you need a substantial bone graft, it will be done before the post installation
  • Your surgeon will install the body, which is the titanium post, and if you only need a minor bone graft, it will be done at this time
  • You’ll need time for the healing of the incision and growth time for the jawbone
  • Your surgeon will install your abutment
  • Impressions of your teeth and gums will be made for the dental lab so they can create your crowns
  • Your surgeon will affix your crowns

The total time needed for your implant procedure will depend on the speed at which your body heals and the amount of work that you need.

How Will I Know If I Need a Bone Graft?

Your surgeon will determine if you need a graft and how much bone you’ll need. Those with dense jawbones will likely not need any additional bone, whereas those with weak bones might need a small, or even substantial, amount. Your oral surgeon will advise you of how much bone you need and whether it can be taken from another area of your body or if they’ll need to use a bone-substitute material.

How Will the Implant Be Placed?

Your surgeon will make an incision in the gum and drill a small hole in the exposed bone. The implant, which is the titanium post, will be secured in the hole and the process of osseointegration will begin after the incision is closed with sutures. Usually, the osseointegration process takes several months for the bone to attach to the post and become firmly fused.

How Will the Abutment Be Placed?

After osseointegration is complete, your surgeon will make another incision in your jawbone where the implant is installed. The abutment will be placed on the post and you’ll then wait for the completion of the healing process, which is normally about two weeks. You’ll then return to the office and we’ll make impressions of your teeth and gums, which will be used by the dental lab to fabricate your crowns.

How Will the Crown Be Placed?

If you’ve decided on removable crowns, you’ll receive them in pink plastic gums that will snap onto the abutment, but you can easily remove them for cleaning. If you’ve opted for fixed crowns, we’ll adjust them to ensure that they fit comfortably and securely, and then we’ll permanently affix them to your posts. Since titanium posts are very strong, they can accommodate one tooth or several teeth that are bridged together.

Will I Need Aftercare Instructions?

It’s normal to experience some minor bruising, bleeding, pain, and swelling after a surgical dental procedure, but it shouldn’t persist for more than a few days. If it does, then call our office. Your oral surgeon will provide you with aftercare instructions for pain management and tips for reducing the swelling.

Are There Only Benefits to Dental Implants?

As with all procedures, there are both benefits and drawbacks. The major drawback of implants is the initial cost. Depending on the complexity of the procedure, a single tooth can cost thousands of dollars. Dental insurance may not cover the cost of implants, but many oral surgeons offer payment options that can make implants more affordable. Another drawback is that implants require multiple surgical procedures, surgery inherently carries risks, such as reactions to the anesthesia, infections, nerve damage, injury to the surrounding teeth, and a jawbone fracture. Implants also require a time commitment since the entire procedure can take several months, so it’s not a quick and easy solution.

Regardless, for many people, the advantages of implants far exceed the disadvantages. Dentures have ongoing costs in addition to the initial investment. They require adhesives and powders on a daily basis, they can break and require replacement, and become uncomfortable if they no longer fit well. Implants, on the other hand, are permanently installed and require no maintenance beyond following the same oral hygiene regimen you use for your natural teeth. Implants don’t cause difficulty with speech or eating and they look, function, and feel like your natural teeth. You can enjoy an active lifestyle without fear of your teeth slipping out or having slurred speech, which can happen with dentures. Most implant wearers report that their implants have lasted for years and they feel that over the long term, implants are more cost effective than dentures.

Can Any Dentist Perform the Implant Procedure?

Implant installation requires additional education, training, and experience, and most general dentists don’t have the qualifications needed to install them. If you’re looking for an oral surgeon for implants, make sure the doctor is board-certified and willing to provide you with their credentials. If they aren’t, then select another surgeon.

If you’d like to get implants or need any other dental procedures, please call our office to make an appointment. Or, use our online booking tool to schedule a consultation at your convenience. We always do our utmost to provide our patients with high-quality dental care, so contact us today. We look forward to welcoming you as a patient.

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