Dental Implants 101

November 18, 2021

Dental Implants are the Solution to Many Dental Conditions

If you are missing one or more teeth, there are many reasons why you should replace them:

  • You may not like how the gap looks when you smile.
  • Missing teeth may affect how you speak.
  • A missing back tooth (molar) can make it harder to chew.
  • When a tooth is lost and not replaced, the teeth around it can shift. Shifting teeth can affect how you bite and chew.
  • Bone loss may occur in the area of the missing tooth or teeth. This may cause the remaining teeth to become loose over time.
  • Loss of teeth and bone can make your face sag. You may look older.

Single Tooth Implants
A single tooth implant replaces the missing tooth’s roots. It is a stand-alone unit and does not involve treating the teeth next to it.

Implant-Supported Bridge
An implant-supported bridge replaces the lost natural teeth and some of the tooth roots when more than one tooth is missing. Unlike traditional bridges, an implant-supported bridge does not need support from the teeth next to it.

Implant-Supported Denture
If you are missing all of your teeth, an implant-supported denture can replace the missing teeth and some of the tooth roots. Because the bone in your jaw actually grows around the implants, an implant-supported denture tends to be comfortable and stable. This allows you to bite and chew naturally.

Steps of Placing an Implant
Treatment will depend on your personal case and can take only one day, several months, or somewhere in between. Discuss with us which type of implant is best for you. Then, we can create a treatment plan.

Implant placement usually involves 3 main steps:

  1. Placing the implant

    Your dentist will use x-rays or other images to carefully find where the implant should be placed. Then, they surgically place the implant into the jawbone. You may have some swelling and/or tenderness after surgery. Your dentist may recommend medicine to make you more comfortable. During the healing process, your dentist may tell you to eat soft foods.

  2. Healing process may take several months

    The reason why an implant is so strong is because the jawbone grows around it and holds it in place. This process takes time. Some patients might need to wait up to several months until the implant is completely healed before replacement teeth can be attached to the implant. Other patients can have implants and temporary teeth placed all in one visit.

  3. Placement of the replacement tooth or teeth

    For a single tooth implant, your dentist makes a new tooth that is customized to you, called a dental crown. It is designed to look just like your other teeth. For multiple missing teeth, implant-supported bridges and dentures are also custom-made to look like your natural teeth and to fit in your mouth. The replacement teeth are attached to the implant posts that were surgically placed in your jawbone.

Replacement teeth usually take some time to make. In the meantime, your dentist may give you a temporary crown, bridge, or denture. This will help you eat and speak normally until your permanent replacement teeth are ready.

Talk to your dentist to see if implants are right for you

Implants are not a good option for everyone. You should be in good health and/or cleared by your doctor before scheduling any implant surgery.

  • If you are in good general health and your jaw can support an implant, this treatment may be a good option for you. Your health is more important than your age.
  • You should have enough jawbone to support the implant or be able to have surgery to build up the jawbone. Bone can be built up with a bone graft or with sinus lift surgery.
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes and leukemia, may slow healing after surgery. Implant treatment may not be a good option for people with these diseases.
  • Using tobacco of any kind (such as dip, chew, cigarettes, pipes, and e-cigarettes) also can slow your healing process.

If your dentist does recommend implant treatment, consistent and good oral hygiene is very important for the success of the implant. You must spend time caring for the implant and making sure the area around it is very clean. If not, it increases your risk for infection, which can weaken the bone and tissues that are needed to support the implant.

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