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Posted on: August 18, 2020
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
Would I Be a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
Your teeth are an integral part of your good overall health as well as your oral health, so it’s essential that you maintain them properly. The CDC reports that almost one-fifth of the adult population over the age of 65 has lost all of their teeth, and two-thirds of those between 20 and 64 years old have lost at least one permanent tooth.
Dental implants are very popular options for replacing missing or damaged teeth. The primary qualifications are that you have good oral and physical health and enough bone in your jaw to support the implant.
What Is Meant by a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth that’s permanently installed and looks and functions like your natural tooth. Implants are popular among people who dislike dentures or bridges but want to maintain good oral health.
A dental implant has three parts and each is placed at a different time:
- The post: The post (the body) of your implant is made of lightweight titanium, which is strong and has a very low rejection rate. Your body should accept it without any issue through a process known as osseointegration. The post is surgically inserted into your jawbone and functions like the root of your artificial tooth.
- The abutment: The abutment connects your tooth to the post and is usually installed after the post has fused to your jawbone.
- The crown: The crown is the visible part of your implant and is sometimes referred to as a prosthesis. It’s the last step of the installation.
How Will Implants Improve My Dental Issues?
The post functions like the root of a natural tooth and permanently secures the crown to your gum. Titanium is very strong and the body readily accepts it, so it can be used to secure one tooth or several. This enables them to function like your natural teeth, so you’ll regain the proper alignment of your jaw and other teeth and the implants will look like your real teeth. If you’ve lost confidence due to missing or damaged teeth, implants can make a dramatic difference. You’ll also be able to resume eating your favorite foods and may have better health.
What Will Happen When I Get Dental Implants?
Implant surgeries are usually performed on an outpatient basis and the entire process usually requires multiple appointments over several months, including the healing time between surgeries. Although your specific procedure may vary slightly, you can expect the following general steps:
- Removal of the damaged tooth or teeth during your initial appointment; prepping the site for the surgery
- Additional procedures that may be necessary for optimal results
- Bone grafting as needed
- Installation of the titanium post
- Time for healing and growth of your jawbone
- Installation of your abutment (if not done with the post installation)
- Placement of your crown or crowns
The duration of your implant procedure will be determined by how much work you need and your healing time.
How Do I Know If I Need a Bone Graft?
Your surgeon will evaluate the condition of your jawbone and let you know if a graft is necessary. A minor graft can be performed during the post installation but more substantial grafting will require an additional procedure. Bone can be taken from another part of your body or an artificial bone substance can be used, but your surgeon will recommend the best option for you.
What’s the Placement Procedure for the Implant?
To place your implant, your surgeon will make an incision in your gum so the bone will be exposed. Next, they’ll drill a hole in the bone and place the titanium post in it. The incision will be sutured around the post and then you’ll need time for the healing process. Your post will fuse to the jawbone through a process called osseointegration, which needs to happen before the abutment can be placed.
What’s the Placement Procedure for the Abutment?
After your gums have healed and osseointegration is complete, your surgeon will make another incision in the gum so the abutment can be installed. This is an outpatient procedure and you’ll receive a local anesthetic.
What’s the Placement Procedure for the Crown?
After your gums have healed from the installation of the abutment, you’ll return to our office and we’ll make impressions of your teeth and gums. These impressions will be used to fabricate your crowns, which will closely resemble the color, size, and shape of your existing teeth. When your crowns are ready, you’ll return for installation.
If you’ve chosen removable crowns, they’ll be provided in plastic pink gums that will snap onto the abutment and can be removed as necessary for cleaning. If you’ve selected fixed crowns, we’ll adjust them for fit and permanently affix them to the abutment.
What Kind of Aftercare Instructions Will I Receive?
It’s normal for patients to experience minor bleeding, swelling, bruising, and pain after a surgical procedure. Your surgeon will provide you with tips on alleviating your discomfort. These symptoms shouldn’t persist for more than a few days, but if they do, please call us promptly.
Are There Any Drawbacks to the Implant Procedure?
All procedures have drawbacks as well as advantages, and dental implants are no exception. The biggest disadvantage to implants is financial—depending on the complexity of the procedure, the initial cost for a single tooth can be several thousand dollars. Your insurance may not cover the cost of dental implants, but many oral surgeons offer payment plans that can help to make them more affordable. Although implants don’t usually need to be replaced, occasionally a crown may need to be replaced, which might not be covered by dental insurance. Remember, implant surgery is still surgery, so there are inherent risks, such as a reaction to the anesthesia, nerve damage, injury to the jaw and surrounding teeth, and infection.
However, many people find that the advantages of implants far outweigh the disadvantages. Since implants often last a lifetime, when you weigh the initial cost against the cost of replacing dentures, as well as their maintenance costs, implants are often more cost-effective in the long term. Implants can boost self-confidence and they function, look, and feel like natural teeth, so no one needs to know that they’re not your natural teeth. Implants won’t impair your speech or your eating, because they won’t fall out or slide around at an inopportune moment. They’re also easier to maintain because you just need to follow normal oral hygiene practices.
Can My Dentist Install Implants?
Implant surgery requires specialized education and training, so most general dentists aren’t qualified for the procedure. If you want to get implants, make sure you have a board-certified surgeon who’s been specifically trained in the procedures and is willing to provide you with the details of their qualifications. If they aren’t, then continue looking.
If you’d like more information on dental implants or you need any other dental procedure, please call our office for an appointment. Or, you can use our online booking tool to schedule your appointment. Contact us today if you have questions or need our dental services.