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Posted on: October 6, 2020
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than half of adults aged 20-64 in the United States have at least one missing tooth in their mouth. For individuals with a visible missing tooth, this can be a great source of embarrassment. It can also lead to more serious dental issues that may impact your overall health and wellbeing.
There are options available for people who have lost a tooth in an accident, to gum disease or decay or other dental issues. Mostly, those options include a dental bridge or an implant. Your dentist will help you determine which is right for you. Implants are often an ideal solution for individuals in good overall health with healthy gums since they are a more permanent solution.
What Is an Implant?
A dental implant is a post or screw made of titanium that is placed into a person’s jawbone to act as a tooth root. The implant has an abutment on top of it which holds the crown. The crown is a custom artificial tooth made from an impression of a patient’s mouth, so it blends in with the existing tooth. While only the post is technically an implant, most people call all three parts a dental implant.
Dental Implants: How They Work
Dental implants feel more like natural teeth than partial dentures or a bridge because they’re prosthetic teeth anchored directly in the jawbone. When you chew, the pressure is absorbed by the jawbone, just like a natural tooth. Dental implants also look just like natural teeth and you brush and floss them just as you do your other teeth. It’s very easy to forget you have a prosthetic tooth. In fact, no one will know you were ever missing a tooth unless you tell them.
How Can a Bone Graft Help Me Get an Implant?
If you don’t have enough jawbone to support an implant, your dentist will suggest bone augmentation. Your dentist can graft bone from another part of your body. There is also artificial bone material, which can save you from having an extra surgical procedure.
Some patients do not want a bone graft, which can add months to the dental implant process. In these cases, a dentist may suggest a subperiosteal implant. This is a metal framework that goes above the bone, where it fuses to the jawbone, but below the gum. Once the framework is fused to the bone, the crown is added. It’s an option for patients with a shallow jawbone, although endosteal implants are far more common.
What Is the Procedure for Getting a Tooth Implant?
If you don’t need a damaged or decayed tooth removed, or a bone graft, the procedure is straightforward and proceeds as outlined below:
Placing the Dental Implant
The implant, which is a post or screw, is surgically placed into your jawbone. The surgery takes about two hours. Once the procedure is complete, it may take between three to six months for osseointegration to occur. This is where the bone grows around the implant and is necessary in order to create a secure and fully functioning dental implant.
Attaching the Connector
The connector, called an abutment, goes on top of the implant. Your dentist or oral surgeon will make a small incision in your gum and place the abutment on the implant. Since the abutment holds your crown, your dentist will order your custom crown from a dental lab. The lab will fabricate your crown while your gum heals.
Attaching the Crown
Once your dentist is certain the custom crown fits, he or she will cement it on the abutment. You may also have the option to choose a removable crown. In this case, the crown would be removed for cleaning or repairs.
How Should I Expect to Feel After Tooth Implant Surgery?
After implant surgery, you can expect pain, swelling and bruising for about a week afterward. Your oral surgeon will advise you on how to handle your pain; OTC pain relievers are usually sufficient. If you still have any pain after two weeks, contact your dentist or oral surgeon.
Do Dental Implants Have Pros and Cons?
The various pros and cons of dental implants are something your dentist will go over with you during your initial consultation. Generally, depending on your reason for getting an implant in the first place, you may find the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Jawbone preservation: Without a natural or artificial tooth root, your jawbone will start to deteriorate, causing a change in the shape of your face.
Increased Self-Esteem: Once you no longer have a missing tooth in your mouth, you’ll talk, smile and laugh more confidently.
Long-Term solution: Unlike a bridge or partial denture, your implant can easily last 20 years or more.
Tooth Preservation: If you choose a bridge, your dentist will have to shave down the two adjacent teeth to put crowns on them. With implants, there’s no need to alter healthy teeth.
Surgery: Surgery is necessary to get an implant. With any surgery, there is a risk of infection or other complications, which should be thoroughly discussed with your dentist before proceeding.
High Initial Cost: Since dental implants are more costly upfront than other options, dental insurance companies rarely cover them. Implants last longer though, so they end up being a better value. Your dentist may offer financing to make implants more affordable.
Not for Everyone: Even though teenagers sometimes lose a tooth to trauma, they may be too young to qualify for an implant if their jawbone has not stopped growing. Other people may not be good candidates depending on their overall and dental health issues.
Do Dentists Have Experience with Implant Dentistry?
Some dentists have extensive experience with implant dentistry, having received additional training in the placing of dental implants. Your local dentist is a good place to start if you want to know if you are a good candidate for implants. Look for a board-certified dentist who won’t hesitate to show you his or her credentials.
If you need a local dentist who is an implant expert, call our practice and request a consultation. You can also request a consultation online. We would be happy to talk to you about restoring your smile.