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Are Dental Implants Right for You?

Overview of Dental Implants

Dental implants are a safe and effective way to replace a missing tooth, several missing teeth, or an entire set of lower and upper teeth. They function as artificial tooth roots and are inserted directly into the jawbone. Once placed, the implant serves as a base for an implant-supported bridge or dental crown. Implants are a great choice for anyone who wants to avoid wearing uncomfortable dentures. Once a dental crown is attached to an implant, it feels, functions, and looks exactly like a real tooth.

There are two approved types of dental implants: subperiosteal and endosteal. The most common implants are endosteal, and these are embedded into the jawbone. Subperiosteal implants are placed on top of the jawbone, below the gumline.

A dental implant consists of three parts:

  1. The post, or body of the implant, acts as an anchor for a crown or other dental restoration. As an artificial tooth root, the post is surgically embedded into the jawbone. It’s made of very durable titanium and has a screw-like appearance.
  2. The abutment connects to the body of the implant and sits along the gumline. This is the component that holds the crown in place.
  3. The crown is placed on the abutment and is the visible part of the artificial tooth. The crown is custom-made to match the color and shape of your natural tooth.

What Is the Procedure for Dental Implants?

It takes multiple appointments over the course of several months to successfully place dental implants. Most of this time is dedicated to healing and waiting for new bone growth to occur in the jawbone. It’s an outpatient procedure, so you’ll be able to go home after each appointment.

Prior to receiving dental implants, your dentist will perform a careful examination, and take X-rays of your mouth. During this appointment, you’ll work with your dentist or oral surgeon to develop a specific treatment plan. If necessary, any unhealthy teeth will be extracted.

If your jawbone is too fragile to support the dental implants, you’ll need bone graft surgery to strengthen the jawbone. You’ll then have to wait a few months while the graft creates stronger bone.

The first step for placing dental implants involves making an incision in the gum tissue. Next, your oral surgeon drills a hole in the jawbone to create space for the dental implant.

The titanium implant is then inserted in the socket of the missing tooth, and the incision is closed with stitches. Over the next several months, a process called osseointegration occurs. This is when the jawbone grows into the body of the implant, creating a secure base. Osseointegration can take several months.

The next step involves attaching the connector post, or abutment, to the titanium post. This is minor surgery that only requires a few weeks to heal. Once you’re fully healed, impressions of your mouth are made to create a mold for making the crown.

During the last step, the crown is attached to the abutment.

Is a Bone Graft Required for Dental Implants?

Having sufficient bone structure and healthy gum tissue makes someone a good candidate for dental implants, but you might still be considered a candidate even if you’ve experienced bone loss or have a weakened jawbone. With a bone graft procedure, bone can be generated or replaced to create a strong base for the dental implant.

Many types of material can be used during a bone graft procedure. This includes donor tissue, synthetic materials that promote the growth of new bone, or bone that is taken from another part of your body. In some cases, the oral surgeon is able to perform a bone graft procedure and dental implants on the same day. A recovery time of several months may be needed for extensive bone grafts.

Dental Implant Surgery Recovery: What to Expect

For the first few days after dental implant surgery, you should expect some pain and discomfort, especially at the site of the implant. Facial swelling, bruising and minor bleeding are also commonly experienced after the surgery. These symptoms will gradually subside over several days, but you should call our office right away if they get worse after several days.

You can apply a cold compress to reduce swelling, and your dentist or oral surgeon may prescribe pain medicine or recommend over-the-counter pain medicine. You’ll also need to make changes to your diet and eat mostly soft foods for a period of time.

Benefits and Advantages of Dental Implants

In addition to having a natural appearance and a high success rate that makes dental implants last a lifetime with proper care, these are some of the other benefits of dental implants:

  • Comfort
  • Easy to care for with daily brushing and flossing
  • Improved speech
  • Convenience
  • Improved oral health
  • Ability to preserve bone and prevent future bone loss
  • Easier eating
  • Enhanced durability

Drawbacks of Dental Implants

For many patients, the cost of dental implants is a huge disadvantage. It’s also possible that the procedure isn’t covered by dental insurance; however, we encourage you to inquire about our office’s financing or payment options to help make treatment more affordable. These also are considered disadvantages of dental implants:

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

If you’re considering tooth replacement options, there simply isn’t a solution that’s more reliable or more natural looking than a dental implant. Besides restoring the appearance of your smile, dental implants can also improve your oral health, prevent bone loss, and preserve facial structure. Call us today to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable and caring dentists.

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