What are dental implants and what can they do for me?

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root, made of a titanium screw, which is placed in your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge in place.  While high–tech in nature, dental implants are actually more tooth saving than traditional bridgework since they do not rely on neighboring teeth for support. 

Implant Implant Tooth Comparison

 

Advantages of dental implants over dentures or bridges

A dental implant provides several advantages over other replacement options.  In addition to looking and functioning like a natural tooth, dental implants replace teeth without sacrificing the health of neighboring teeth.  The other common treatment for loss of teeth is a fixed bridge.  This requires that adjacent teeth be ground down to support the cemented bridge.

Since a dental implant will replace your tooth root, the bone is better preserved.  With a fixed bridge or removable partial denture, some of the bone that previously surrounded the tooth begins to resorb (deteriorate).  Dental implants integrate with the bone, helping to keep the bone healthy and intact.

            Esthetic - Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth.  Since dental implants integrate into the structure of your bone, they prevent the bone loss and gum recession that often accompany bridgework and dentures.  No one will be able to tell that you have a replacement tooth.

            Tooth-saving - Dental implants don’t sacrifice the quality of your adjacent teeth  like a bridge does, because neighboring teeth are not altered to support the implant.  More of your own teeth are left untouched, a significant long-term benefit to your oral health.

            Reliable - The success rate of dental implants is highly predictable.  They are considered an excellent option for tooth replacement.

Am I a candidate for dental implants?

The ideal implant candidate is in good general and oral health.  Adequate bone in your jaw is needed to support the implant, and the best candidates have healthy gum tissues that are free of periodontal disease.

 

What is treatment like?

Treatment is comfortably performed with local anesthesia and patients may drive to and from their appointment.  Improvements in medications, local anesthesia, anxiety and pain control have been made to make your treatment more pleasant and comfortable.  Headphones with your choice of music are available as well. 

After the implant, which looks like a screw, is placed in the jaw it is allowed to heal for 4 to 6 months.  During this time the bone and implant are allowed to bond together.  At the end of this 4 to 6 month period of time, a second, smaller procedure is performed to uncover the implant.  At this time, a metal post called an abutment, is screwed into the implant and extends through the gum.  This provides access to the implant to help support the crown and shape the gum tissue to provide a healthy cosmetic contour.

This treatment is a team effort between you, your general dentist and our office.  We will coordinate treatment with your dentist to determine how your implant should be placed.  Depending on your specific condition, we will create a treatment plan tailored to meet your needs.

 

What can I expect after treatment?

Dental implants are so natural-looking and feeling, you may forget you ever lost a tooth.  As you know, your own teeth require conscientious at-home oral care and regular dental visits.  Dental implants are like your own teeth and will require the same care.  In order to keep your implant clean and plaque free, brushing and flossing still applies!  Periodic follow-up visits will be scheduled to monitor your implant, teeth and gums to make sure they are healthy.