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Are Dental Implants Right for You?

Of the adults in the United States ages 40 to 64, 66% have at least one missing tooth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tooth loss is an indication of your dental health, so it is especially troubling for people in the prime of their professional lives.

Anyone who has lost a tooth from disease or an injury may be a candidate to replace the lost tooth with a dental implant. The deciding factors are whether you have enough bone to support an implant, your gum health and your overall health. Our dentist will determine if you are a suitable candidate if you’re interested in replacing one or more lost teeth.

What is a Dental Implant?

An implant is a permanent tooth replacement option that looks and feels just like a natural tooth. You may even forget you have an implant. Unlike dentures or a bridge, implants require no special care; you brush and floss normally.

Dental implants consist of three parts:

  1. The body of the implant: The post portion of the implant is a thin titanium screw inserted in your jawbone. It acts as a tooth root.
  2. The abutment: The abutment sits on top of the implant and holds the crown.
  3. The crown: The crown is the visible part of the implant. It is an artificial tooth custom made to blend in with your other teeth.

How Does an Implant Act as a Natural Tooth?

Your dental implant will feel no different from your other teeth when you eat. The screw works the same way as a tooth root. Your jawbone absorbs the pressure from chewing, unlike dentures that rest on your gums. You can eat the same foods you normally eat, including corn on the cob and other food denture wearers have to avoid.

Why Would I Need a Bone Graft?

If you lack adequate bone to hold an implant, your dentist may suggest a bone graft. If you lost the tooth years ago, the bone may have deteriorated to the point that it can no longer support an implant. Gum disease can also cause bone loss.

In a lot of cases, a bone graft is a relatively minor procedure, taking about two hours or fewer. Your dental professional can use your own bone from another part of your body or a bone-substitute material. Using artificial bone will save you from another incision. It will take a few months for the bone or bone material to fuse to your jawbone and then you can have your implant placed.

What Is the Dental Implant Procedure Like?

Each patient is unique with specific needs. After your initial consultation, your dentist will determine a treatment plan. He or she can give you an estimate of how long the entire procedure will take for your specific case.

Placing the Implant

Placing the implant is usually an outpatient surgery. Initially, a small incision will be made in your gum to reach the bone. Once the oral surgeon exposes the bone, he or she will place the implant in the bone and then close the incision. In the next several months, osseointegration occurs. This is where the bone goes around the implant, making it as firmly secured as a natural tooth.

Placing the Abutment

On your next visit, the oral surgeon will open your gum to expose the implant. He or she will put the abutment on the implant and then close the gum. The abutment is partially exposed in your mouth. Before the next step can occur, the gum must heal completely, so you’ll return in a few weeks for the final step. You’ll most likely have impressions of your teeth made at this time. Your dentist sends the impression to a dental lab, so the lab can fabricate a crown that will match your existing teeth.
What Is it Like After Dental Implant Surgery?
You can expect bruising, swelling and pain, just as you would with any other dental surgery. Over-the-counter medications are usually enough to handle the pain and ice will relieve the swelling. Your oral surgeon will provide you with specific aftercare instructions.

Placing the Crown

After your gum heals, you’re ready to have impressions made and then have the crown put on. Your dentist will cement the crown to the abutment after he or she ensures it fits correctly. The last step takes the least amount of time and it is the most rewarding since you’ll no longer have a missing tooth.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Dental Implants?

Pros

Convenience: Dental implants are permanent; you never have to take them out to clean them.

Comfort: Implants are as strong as natural teeth, so you can once again enjoy biting into an apple and corn on the cob.

Prevents Bone Loss: Dental implants prevent jawbone atrophy, allowing your face to retain its shape and the rest of your teeth to remain in optimal health as well.

Good Investment: While implants may require an initially high investment, they can last a lifetime. A dental bridge may only last 10 years or less, making implants more cost effective in the long run.

No Embarrassment: Implants never slip or click when you are laughing or speaking, and they provide a natural appearance.

Cons

The Cost: One implant can cost thousands of dollars. Dental insurance companies rarely cover the cost; they may only pay for a lower cost bridge or a less invasive device. In some cases, you may be able to pay the difference in cost if your insurance company agrees. Most dentists offer financing option to make dental implants easier on your budget.

Surgery: There are inherent risks associated with any surgery, including infections, damage to other teeth, nerve damage and more. However, implant surgery is one of the safest dental surgeries, and your dentist will work closely with you to make sure you are comfortable with the procedure.

Procedure Time: It can take months to have an implant placed, longer if you need a bone graft first. This is not a one-step process, making it less ideal for people who are looking for a fast solution.

Can a Local Dentist Help Me with Implants?

Placing dental implants requires continuing education and experience. Ask your dentist about his or her training and experience before making an investment in dental implants.

We understand how difficult it can be to live with a missing tooth. Our affordable, skilled care includes dental implants and other preventative and restorative services. You can call us today or book a consultation online to find out if you are a good candidate to replace a lost tooth with a dental implant.

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