Missing teeth are often a fact of later life. However, getting older does not have to mean placing all your teeth in a cup before you go to bed. Dental implants are a natural-looking, permanent alternative to a full set of dentures.
Are implants right for you?
A qualified cosmetic dentist can examine and evaluate your teeth to determine whether implants are right for you. If you meet the following criteria, implants might be your solution:
– You are missing one or more teeth
– Your speaking or chewing abilities are impaired by missing teeth
– You have had a recent injury involving trauma to the mouth
– You cannot return for dentist appointments for several months
– Your jawbone is fully developed
– With grafting or in its current state, your jawbone can support the implants
– Your oral tissues are relatively healthy
What are implants?
Dental implants are actually three separate components:
1. Threaded metal cylinders that replace the roots of lost teeth
2. An extension attached to the top of the cylinder
3. A tooth-like crown, or implant prosthesis, attached to the top of the extension. Your dentist may offer the option of a removable crown or a fixed crown.
Preparing for the surgery
Your cosmetic dentist will do everything possible to tailor the procedure to your needs. It is important to mention any medical conditions you may have that might affect the process, including:
– Heart problems
Your dentist will conduct a thorough dental exam to determine the fitness of your jawbone and gum tissue. Often, your dentist will take X-rays or construct a model of your mouth before proceeding.
After the examination and discussion, your dentist will design a treatment plan to restore and complete your smile.
Not everyone requires bone grafting surgery. However, the jawbone endures a great deal of wear as a result of the chewing process. A narrow or unstable jawbone is unlikely to support dental implants, and bone grafting can get around this problem. Substantial grafting requires separate surgery, which takes place before the implant surgery. Sometimes the graft is very small and can be inserted during the implant surgery.
What happens during the surgery?
The process is tailored to your specific needs, so it varies for different patients. Dental implant surgery usually happens in several stages. Each stage requires a period of healing before the next surgery:
Stage 1: Your dentist inserts the cylinder or implant into your jawbone. A stage of osseo-integration follows, in which the bone grows around the implant. This healing process takes three to six months.
Stage 2: Your dentist adds the extension. A shorter healing process follows.
Stage 3: Your dentist attaches the crown.
Sometimes the extension piece is attached during the first surgery. Discuss with your dentist to decide if this option is right for you.
How long will the process take?
The entire process takes three to nine months. Keep in mind, however, that part of this time is spent healing.
Will it hurt?
Dentists can administer different levels of anesthesia, ranging from local to general. Discuss with your dentist to decide which option will make you most comfortable. You may experience some swelling, discomfort, or bleeding after the initial implant surgery. Your doctor can prescribe painkillers to help with any residual pain.
What are the disadvantages?
Like every surgery, dental implant surgery has its risks. You must be prepared to invest time and money in the procedure and follow your dentist’s instructions regarding eating habits, medication, and oral hygiene.
Sometimes the implants do not settle securely into the bone tissue, and the surgery must be repeated. However, problems are uncommon, and dental implant surgery is considered one of the safest surgical procedures according to the Consumer’s Guide to Dentistry.
What are the results?
Implant surgery restores your smile and aids in everyday functioning that is often taken for granted-chewing and talking. Dental implants can improve your smile and just may be the solution you’ve been looking for.