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Posted on: October 5, 2020
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
When you look at adults in the U.S. ages 20-64, more than half have at least one missing tooth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of these people are considering a dental implant. In fact, more than half a million people have a dental implant installed each year, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Most individuals are good candidates for an implant unless they have poor gum health, certain medical conditions that can hinder healing from surgery or the person is a heavy smoker and not willing to quit.
Tooth loss can have a profound impact on a person’s professional and social life. People judge individuals who have a visible missing tooth as someone who is in poor overall health. Missing teeth are more than a cosmetic issue, they have an effect on your oral health as well. Your teeth can shift in your mouth in an attempt to fill the gaps, and you may experience bone loss, leading to the loss of other teeth.
What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a prosthetic tooth that looks and feels like a natural tooth. It is comprised of three parts:
- The body: This portion is a post, typically made from titanium, that a dentist surgically places in the jaw to act as a tooth root.
- The abutment: This sits on the top of the post and it holds the crown.
- The crown: This is the prosthetic tooth visible in the mouth. Crowns are custom-made to blend in with existing teeth.
How Does a Tooth Implant Work?
Since an implant has an artificial root and tooth, it looks and feels like any of your natural teeth. While you can’t feel the food you’re chewing with a partial denture, you can with an implant since it is stimulating your jawbone. Because of this, you won’t lose bone to deterioration and your facial shape won’t change.
What Happens If I Don’t Have Enough Bone Left for a Dental Implant?
A bone graft, or bone augmentation, will help you replace enough bone with healthy bone to support an implant. Your dentist will go over your options with you, which include using your own bone or synthetic bone material. Bone grafts will add months to the dental implant process, so your dentist may recommend a subperiosteal implant instead. A subperiosteal implant is a metal frame that goes above your jawbone and fuses to it. You need less bone for this type of implant so a graft may not be necessary.
How Long Does the Dental Implant Process Take?
The process can take anywhere from three to at least six months, depending on how fast you heal. There are three basic steps:
Placing the Implant
Your dentist will make an incision in your gum so he or she can reach the jawbone. The implant, a titanium post or screw, is surgically implanted into the bone and then the incision is closed. You’ll need to wait until your jawbone grows around the implant, which can take several months. This is a one to two-hour, outpatient procedure in most cases.
Putting on the Abutment
Once the implant is secure in your jawbone, your dentist will make another incision in your gum to access the top of the implant. The abutment, which holds the crown, is screwed in. You’ll have to wait for your gum to heal, which only takes weeks, not months. Sometimes, your dentist can put the abutment on at the same time he or she places the implant, saving you time and another surgery. However, some patients don’t like having the abutment sticking up above the gum while waiting for their implant to fuse to the jawbone.
Getting Your Crown
You’re finally ready to have your artificial tooth put on once your gum heals. The artificial tooth is crafted by a lab and formatted to match the color of your remaining teeth.
How Does it Feel After Getting a Dental Implant Placed?
Getting an implant placed does not differ from any other dental surgery. You’ll have bruising and swelling, which your dentist will tell you how to manage. You may have minor pain for up to 10 days, but over-the-counter pain relievers can ease the pain. If you still have pain after two weeks, contact your dentist. You’ll also receive instructions about which foods you can eat afterwards.
Dental Implants: The Advantages and Disadvantages
Dental implants have many advantages, but they also have a few disadvantages.
Jawbone Preservation: This is one of the principal reasons patients choose implants. Implants prevent jawbone degradation and the appearance of premature aging.
Clear Speech: Having missing teeth can cause a lisp or difficulty with others understanding what you’re saying.
Easy Maintenance: You clean your implants exactly the same way you clean your natural teeth.
Implants are Undetectable: Even up close, no one will know you’ve replaced a missing tooth with a dental implant.
Upfront Expense: Implants have a higher upfront cost than a bridge or partial denture, but they tend to last longer. Unfortunately, dental insurance rarely covers the cost. Ask your dentist about financing options during your initial consultation if paying all at once would be a hardship.
Implants Are for Adults Only: Even though teenagers can lose a tooth in a sport or recreational activity accident, they cannot get an implant until their jawbone stops growing. It all depends on the age of the teen and their dental health.
Surgery: Placing implants is a surgical procedure. With any surgery, there is a risk of infection, damage to other teeth or nerves, and further complications. You’ll need to review these risks with your dentist.
Can My Local Dentist Place Implants?
Some general dentists have received specialized training in implant placement. They regularly perform the procedure and are quite proficient at implant dentistry. During your consultation, feel free to ask about your dentist’s experience and training. All reputable dentists will gladly supply this information.
Please use the contact form or call us to set up an initial consultation. We can answer your questions and determine if you would be a good candidate for an implant.