At New Smiles, we believe dental implants are the best solution for tooth replacement. Just about anyone is a great candidate for implants. The only question is the health of the patient and jawbone mass. If you’ve been missing a tooth or teeth for a period of time, you may have insufficient jawbone mass to hold the implant. In those cases, we can build up the jawbone with grafting prior to placing the implants.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are an appliance used to replace the roots of teeth. The implant is surgically attached to the jaw bone and an artificial tooth is attached to the top of the implant, creating a natural looking, undetectable replacement for the missing tooth. In the event that more than one tooth is missing, several implants may provide a base for a series of artificial teeth known as a fixed bridge. Implants can even be used to secure a full set of removable dentures for people who have no remaining natural teeth. This can greatly improve chewing ability and reduce the risk of choking.
It generally takes about six months for the surgical implant to heal before the final installation of the artificial tooth or teeth can be finished.
Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?
You may be a candidate for dental implants if you have:
- A missing tooth or teeth
- Potential bite and jaw joint problems from teeth shifting to fill the space
- The “sunken face” look associated with missing teeth
- Desire to improve chewing ability
- Desire for a more permanent solution than dentures
Dental Implants vs Dental Bridges
The nice thing about dental implants is that they function and feel just like natural teeth. Since they are anchored into the jawbone, they are almost as strong as your natural teeth. They don’t shift like dentures. They can’t be pulled out by chewing sticky foods, as bridges can be. Caring for them is exactly the same as your natural teeth; no special care is needed. Plus, implants can last the rest of your life without needing replacement.
What If I Have a Number of Missing Teeth?
You have options. You can use an individual implant to replace every missing tooth, but that option can be more expensive. Some patients opt to have implants strategically placed as anchors for either permanent bridges or for anchored dentures. If you’re missing a large number of teeth, ask about our New Smile in a Day program.
Dental Implants Benefits
Dental implants with artificial teeth are the closest thing to regrowing your natural teeth. They are strong, stable, durable and virtually undetectable. By filling gaps left by missing teeth, implants can provide better chewing ability and head off jaw joint problems. They are far superior to removable dentures.
Disadvantages of Dental Implants
Dental implants are excellent, state-of-the-art restorations and have few disadvantages when compared to alternatives such as dentures. However, dental implants do require surgery and time to heal, and they are initially more expensive than dentures or fixed bridges. These disadvantages are offset by the ease of use, saved time and long-term health benefits of implants.
Dental Implants Alternatives
In some cases, there may be inadequate bone to support an implant. In those instances, advanced surgery to restore bone may then be necessary to allow use of implants. The alternative to using implants would be a bridge or the use of removable dental appliances to restore function.
Dental Implant Procedure
Once we determine you have sufficient jawbone mass to hold the implant, the process involves four steps:
- Placement — First, we make a very tiny incision in your gums and screw the titanium implant down into the bone where your tooth was and that will become the new root.
- Osseointegration — Then, we let the bone grow around the implant. This process takes from four to six months.
- Abutment — Next, we place a post into the implant to hold the artificial tooth. This is called the abutment, and once placed we let the gums heal around it for around four weeks.
- Crown — All that is left is to attach the artificial tooth, called a crown, to the abutment. The crown is custom-made at a dental lab to perfectly match your surrounding teeth.
I love this office…everyone is so friendly. For someone that is so afraid of going to the dentist…I would highly recommend this office to anyone. They are calming and very helpful in every way. -Keri K.
Dental implants do not require any special care; simple brushing and flossing are all that’s needed.
Dental Implant Recovery
Surprisingly, dental implant surgery is not painful. In fact, many people think the tooth extraction is more tender than the implant procedure. There will be some soreness, but that can usually be addressed with over-the-counter pain relievers.
Caring for your dental implants is the same as your natural teeth: brushing, flossing, and getting twice-yearly dental check-ups.