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Posted on: October 5, 2020
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
More than half of American adults ages 20-64 have experienced some form of tooth loss, and that number is even higher for adults over the age of 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Replacements for missing teeth have come a long way in the past couple of years.
If you’re missing a tooth and want to improve your smile, dental implants may be the right choice for you. Many people lose their teeth to decay, gum disease or trauma, but you don’t have to live with a missing tooth in your mouth. Your dentist can work with you to determine if your gum health is stable enough to support an implant or if another solution would be more viable.
Can You Explain What a Dental Implant Is?
Dental implants replace natural teeth with an artificial tooth root and tooth. They work like real teeth and others won’t even be able to tell you have an implant. The term implants technically refers to the screw in your jaw, but most people refer to implants as these three pieces together:
- The screw or body: The screw is a surgical-grade titanium piece that is surgically implanted in the jawbone to act as an artificial tooth root.
- The abutment: The abutment connects to the top of the screw and holds the crown, or the artificial tooth.
- The crown: The crown is an artificial tooth that functions the same as a natural tooth. It’s custom-made to blend in with your natural teeth.
Dental Implants: How Do They Work?
Dental implants work just like natural teeth. They have an artificial root, so you have the sensation of chewing, which other tooth replacement options can’t match. You also care for implants the same way as you care for your other teeth. They so closely resemble natural teeth that you may forget you have an implant.
The implant comes in two types, endosteal and subperiosteal, depending on where they are placed on the jawbone. Endosteal implants are the most commonly used; however, some people also opt for subperiosteal implants. Subperiosteal implants consist of a metal framework that goes above the jawbone. It is often recommended for patients without enough bone to support an endosteal implant who prefer not to get a bone graft.
Why Do Some People Need a Bone Graft Before Getting a Dental Implant?
There are many ways in which boine loss can occur, such as periodontal disease. After having an extraction, you may experience bone loss in the jaw if a replacement is not immediately installed. Your body will absorb the bone if it does not receive stimulation normally caused by chewing. Much of the resorption happens right after an extraction. If you have an implant post put in immediately, it can make a bone graft unnecessary if you want an implant in the future. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible for individuals on a tight budget.
If you need a bone graft before implant surgery, it will only delay the procedure for three to six months, but is entirely necessary for the implant to function correctly. Your dentist will explain the advantages and disadvantages of using your own bone, donor bone or synthetic bone.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Dental Implant?
The process can make several months, with much of your time spent healing in between steps.
Placing the Implant
This is a one to two-hour procedure where the oral surgeon exposes your jawbone by making a small incision in your gum. He or she will carefully place the implant in the bone and close the incision. Over the next few months, the implant fuses to the bone and creates an anchor for the crown.
Putting on the Abutment
Your dentist or oral surgeon will open your gum again to screw the abutment on the top of the implant. The abutment holds the crown.
Placing the Crown
After the gum around the abutment heals, you’ll return to have the crown put on the abutment. Healing usually takes a few weeks.
What Is it Like After Getting a Dental Implant Placed?
Most dental surgeries cause discomfort, bruising and swelling; implant surgery is no different. You can usually take care of the pain with over-the-counter pain relievers. Your dentist or oral surgeon will give you detailed instructions to ease your discomfort and promote healing.
What Are the Upsides and Downsides of Getting a Dental Implant?
Every tooth replacement option has upsides and downsides. Dental implants upsides and downsides include:
Cost-effective: Implants may cost more than other tooth replacement options, but they last significantly longer, saving you money in the long-term.
Easy Oral Hygiene: Implants are easier to keep clean as opposed to a dental bridge. You just brush and floss them normally.
Improved Speech: If a missing tooth made you lisp, a dental implant can make it easier for others to understand you.
Increased Self-Confidence: Taking care of your missing tooth will be a major boost to your self-confidence. Imagine how much better you’ll feel when you don’t have to hide your missing tooth in social and professional situations.
Significant Initial Cost: Dental implants have a higher upfront cost than other tooth replacement options. They are less expensive in the long run as they last longer than other tooth replacement options.
Significant Time Investment: The dental implant process can take months.
Surgery: With surgery, there is always a risk of infection.
Implants Are for Adults: Teens who lose a tooth cannot get an implant until they are 18 years old. Their bones are still growing and implants are not a good option for them.
Some People Are Not Good Candidates: Dentists may discourage heavy smokers and people with certain medical conditions from getting implants.
Can I See a Local Dentist for Implants?
Some dentists offer this solution for missing teeth. Those that do have special training in implant dentistry and offer the procedure routinely, so they have extensive experience in placing implants.
If you would like a consultation to learn more about implant dentistry at our office, contact us today to arrange an appointment. We can discuss replacing your missing tooth or teeth. If implants are not right for you, we offer many other types of restorative dentistry.