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Posted on: August 18, 2020
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
Will a Dental Implant Be a Good Choice for Me?
If you’ve lost one or more teeth, regardless of whether the cause was disease or trauma, then implants can help to restore the aesthetics and functionality of your teeth. Statistics reported by the CDC show that more than half of adults from ages 20 to 64 are missing at least one permanent tooth, and for those 65 or older, the number rises to two-thirds. Almost 20 percent of those over 65 are missing all of their teeth.
Your dentist can determine if you’re a good candidate for implants based on the following information:
- Your overall physical health
- Your dental and gum health
- The amount of bone in your jaw
If a lack of bone is the only problem, a bone graft may be able to help.
What Is a Dental Implant?
Dental implants are permanently installed artificial teeth that function and appear the same as your natural teeth. They’re appealing to those who dislike the concept of dentures or bridges but want to maintain good oral health. Two types of implants are commonly used:
- Endosteal implants, which are inserted directly into the jawbone
- Subperiosteal implants, which are placed under the gum tissue
Each dental implant consists of three separate parts:
- The body: This is a strong but lightweight titanium post that has a very low rejection rate. This means your body should accept it without any issue through a process known as osseointegration. The titanium post is surgically inserted into your jawbone and functions like a root for your artificial tooth.
- The abutment: The abutment anchors your tooth to the post and is usually installed after the osseointegration process is complete.
- The crown: This is the visible part of your artificial tooth and is sometimes called a prosthesis. It’s the last step of the implant procedure.
Will an Implant Restore My Smile?
Missing or damaged teeth can undermine your self-esteem and cause you to smile less and have less confidence. Dental implants can replace your missing tooth or teeth and look very natural, so no one will know that they’re not your own teeth. Since they’re custom-made for you, they’ll match the size, shape, and color of your natural teeth. When properly installed by a qualified oral surgeon, implant surgery is one of the safest dental procedures.
What’s the Implant Procedure Like?
Implant surgery is performed on an outpatient basis that requires numerous appointments and several months. Although the specific steps will vary according to the unique needs of the patient, in general, you can expect the following:
- During your initial appointment, your dentist will remove the damaged teeth or tooth and may perform any other work you need
- The site will be prepped for the surgical procedure
- You may receive a bone graft if it’s needed
- Installation of the body, which is the titanium post, and any bone grafting not done previously
- Time for healing and growth of the jawbone
- Installation of your abutment
- Placement of your crown or crowns
The length of time needed for the entire implant procedure will depend on the speed at which your body heals, as well as any additional work you may need.
Will I Need to Have a Bone Graft?
If you have a strong jawbone, you probably won’t need a bone graft. However, if your jawbone is weak or has lost density, you might need one. Depending on the size of the graft, it can sometimes be performed during the installation of the post. If you require a substantial amount of grafting, then it’s usually done as a separate procedure that can require multiple appointments. Bone can be taken from elsewhere in the body or an artificial bone substitute can be used.
How Will My Implant Be Placed?
Your surgeon will make an incision in the gum to expose the bone, and then drill a hole to accommodate the post. The site will be sutured closed and the healing process will begin. Complete osseointegration, the process of the post fusing to the bone, usually takes several months.
How Will My Abutment Be Placed?
Once the osseointegration process is complete, you’ll return to our office for your next surgery. Your dentist will make an incision to expose the implant and then attach the abutment to it. Sometimes, patients choose to skip this step and have the abutment installed during the post installation, but most prefer it to be a separate procedure. This is an outpatient surgery and you’ll be given a local anesthetic. Your gums should heal within a couple of weeks, after which you’ll return to our office to have a mold made that will be used to fabricate the crown(s).
How Will My Crown Be Placed?
We’ll make impressions of your teeth and gums and the dental lab will use these molds to create your custom crowns. If you’re getting removable crowns, you’ll receive your artificial teeth in pink plastic gums that will snap onto the abutment and can be removed for cleaning. If you’re getting permanently installed crowns, we’ll attach them to the abutment.
Will My Dentist Supply Aftercare Instructions?
After your surgery, your dentist will supply you with instructions on pain management and methods for reducing any swelling or discomfort you might experience. Patients typically have minor pain, bleeding, bruising, and swelling after a procedure, but if it lasts longer than a few days, call our office.
Are There Both Benefits and Drawbacks to Getting Implants?
As with any dental procedure, there are advantages and disadvantages to be considered. Implants look and feel natural, and you care for them the same as you would your natural teeth. There are no messy adhesives, powders, or procedures that you need to follow other than a regimen of good oral hygiene. Implants are comfortable and don’t slip or interfere with your speech. Since they’re permanently installed, you don’t have to worry that they’ll slip or fall out. They’re very durable, so barring trauma or other unforeseen circumstances, you shouldn’t need to replace them.
However, implants are expensive and the cost isn’t always covered by insurance. The cost of one tooth can be several thousand dollars, depending on the work you need, although most oral surgeons offer payment plans. The entire implant procedure can take several months and require multiple appointments, so it is the willingness to wait. Implants are a surgical procedure, so there are inherent risks, such as a poor reaction to the anesthesia, an infection, nerve damage, damage to surrounding teeth, and jaw fractures.
Where Can I Get Implants?
If you’re contemplating getting dental implants, be sure to look for a dentist who is board-certified and has undergone the additional training and education necessary to perform the procedure. Any reputable oral surgeon should be able to provide you with this information and if they aren’t, then continue your search.
If you’d like more information about implants or want to schedule a consultation, please call our office and we’ll be happy to help you with whatever dental procedure you need. You can also book your appointment online at your convenience.