Dental Implants: Changing the Way We Live
Dental implants have revolutionized the way we replace teeth. They allow patients to eat, smile, and talk without restriction and thus live happier lives.
Dental implants are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything and can smile with confidence, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved. The implants are tiny titanium posts that are placed into the jawbone where teeth are missing. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. In addition, dental implants can help preserve facial structure, preventing the bone deterioration which occurs when teeth are missing.
How do Dental Implants Work?
Dental implants are small titanium screws that are inserted into the jawbone. After placement, the implant is allowed to fuse with the bone – a process known as osseointegration. Once the implant has stabilized inside the jawbone, an artificial crown is attached to the implant via a connecting piece called an “abutment”. Patients can then bite, chew and eat any foods that they want, just as they would with their natural teeth!
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Benefits of Dental Implants
- Preserve jawbone health
- Allow patients to eat anything
- Enhance self-esteem
- Eliminate social embarrassment
- Last a lifetime
Dentures and Bone Loss
For many years, dentures have been the standard treatment for patients who are missing many teeth. However, complications and challenges with dentures endure embarrassing slippage, jawbone loss that negatively affects aesthetics, speech impairments, poor diet, and self-esteem issues. Dental implants, by contrast, offer a solution to all of these problems. The fusing of titanium to the jawbone allows us to provide our patients with an artificial tooth that is just as stable as (and looks just like) its natural neighbors.
Bone Grafting for Dental Implants
From the moment a tooth is extracted (or falls out), the jawbone starts to recede, a process that will continue until the bone receives the stimulation it needs from the chewing and biting actions of teeth. If a patient goes too long with a missing tooth, he or she may not have adequate bone left for a dental implant to be placed. This is very common, but fortunately we have a tried and true method for building the bone back up. The process, known as bone grafting, involves the introduction of a bone grafting material into the socket, which acts as a catalyst for the body to produce its own bone. The procedure is simple and straightforward, and after a few months, the bone is healthy enough for us to move forward with a dental implant.
Dental Implant Procedure
- Planning your Treatment: The first step in the dental implants process is to gather your information and create a treatment plan together.
- Extraction of the Tooth: If the tooth in question has not yet been extracted, this is the next step. Sometimes, we are even able to place the implant on the same day as the extraction. If not, we may at least be able to start the bone grafting process during your extraction appointment.
- Bone Grafting: Patients who are lacking sufficient jawbone will undergo bone grafting. The procedure is simple, however, there is a wait time (usually a few months) for the bone to regrow before we can place the implant.
- Implant Surgery: This is a 1-2 hour procedure, during which the titanium implant is inserted into the jaw. You will be kept comfortable during the procedure and unable to feel any pain.
- Fusing Period: This is when the real magic happens. The jawbone and titanium screw fuse together (“osseointegrate”) over a period of several months to create a totally stable new tooth.
- Prosthetic Crown Restoration: Once the bone is fused with the implant, a beautiful crown is crafted by your general dentist and attached via an abutment.
Dental Implants: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I afford dental implants?
At first glance, the cost of dental implants can seem prohibitive, however, a closer comparison with alternative methods such as bridges and dentures, both of which require regular upkeep and replacement, shows that dental implants are well worth the investment.
Do dental implants hurt?
Some patients have mild soreness after the anesthesia wears off, but usually, it can be relieved by over-the-counter pain medications. The procedure itself doesn’t hurt, as the implant site is kept numb throughout. We also have additional sedation options during the surgery to keep you comfortable.
Dental Implants vs. Bridges: Which is better?
Dental implants last a lifetime and allow the patient to eat, chew, smile, and speak naturally. By contrast, bridges limit chewing and must be replaced every 5-15 years.
When can I go back to work after dental implant surgery?
Most of our patients return to work the following day.
What if I am missing a lot of teeth?
For those who are missing most (or all) of their teeth, we offer implant dentures, which feature a full arch denture attached to just four implants.
Can dental implants fail?
Dental implants have a 98% success rate. Every year, advancements in the placement and function of dental implants are made, making it a safe, reliable procedure for most people.
How long do they last?
Dental implants can last a lifetime when cared for properly. Care includes regular brushing, flossing, and dental checkups.
With dental implants, patients can live a genuinely fulfilling life once again.