Dental implants offer a permanent solution that’s extremely close in look and feel to your real teeth, if you have any missing teeth or heavily decayed ones. Like most dental procedures, multiple options are available, and your general dentistry specialist will help you determine the best fit for your situation. Thinking about dental implants? Here’s what you need to know.
Dental Implant Surgery 101
Scared of surgery? Don’t be! Dental implant surgery can be a long-lasting solution to give you implants that look and feel just like your surrounding teeth. Here’s what you can expect from dental implant surgery.
The first step towards dental implants is to ensure that every part of the decaying or missing tooth has been removed. This is critical, as each following step in this cosmetic dentistry procedure depends on it.
Next, a small titanium screw (commonly called a “post”) is surgically placed into your jawbone, beneath your existing gum line. This post will fuse directly with your jawbone, creating a stable foundation for your tooth restoration to be built on top of. The post serves as a replacement for the root that formerly held your tooth in place. These posts can also help to preserve your jawbone’s structure over time.
The last step in the procedure is to add a “restoration” on top of the post. Depending on your specific needs, there are three types of restorations that your dentist will choose from: a single crown, an implant-supported bridge, or implant-secured dentures. Regardless of which route is best for you, your new implants will look and feel just like your surrounding teeth!
Replacing a Single Tooth
If you only need to replace a single tooth, you’ll need one post and one crown surgically implanted. This process is different from other restoration options because it replaces your entire missing tooth, from root all the way to crown.
This is an ideal option for people who are missing a single tooth, or who have multiple missing teeth spread throughout their mouth, none of which are side by side.
Replacing Multiple Teeth
If you have multiple missing teeth adjacent to each other, an implant-supported bridge may be your best dental implant option.
Typically, a bridge consists of one crown on either side of your missing tooth gap, with an artificial tooth held in place between them. This procedure is unique because the implant-supported bridge attaches to the two crowns, which then connect to the dental implants. While the process is very similar to the one post and one crown surgery, the tooth that is missing – and located in the center of the bridge – will not receive its own dental implant.
Replacing All Teeth
If you are missing a majority of your upper and/or lower teeth, then implant-secured dentures may be the best option for you. Similar to traditional dentures, implant-secured dentures consist of an arch of artificial teeth. This ultimately rests on your gum line and gives you the look and feel of a full set of teeth.
Traditional dentures are removable, which can lead to slipping, sliding, clicking, falling out, and discomfort while eating and talking. Implant-secured dentures solve all these problems by placing multiple posts around your jaw in order to permanently secure your dentures in your mouth.
Who’s a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
There are three critical criteria for determining if someone is a good candidate for dental implants, including the condition of the bone surrounding your missing teeth, your age, and your general health.
First, what’s the condition of the bone surrounding your missing tooth or teeth? Wherever a tooth is missing, the surrounding bone will slowly deteriorate over time. Because of this, it’s important to have a certain amount of bone still present, so the implant post can properly fuse. The Rhoades DDS team will take dental x-rays and/or a three-dimensional scan of your mouth and your jawbone so that we can evaluate your bone quantity and determine your available options.
Second, what’s your age? Any type of dental implant is going to be most successful if it’s placed in an adult who is done growing and developing. Depending on your age, you may need to wait until your facial structure has fully developed before you’ll be eligible for dental implants. For kids and young adults not yet old enough for dental implant surgery, our team will work with you to offer temporary solutions to help the time pass more comfortably.
Lastly, how healthy are you? Both good oral health and good general health are important for healing from any dental implant procedure. If you have diabetes, are a smoker, or have gum disease, then you may not be a candidate for any dental implants. But each patient is different and unique, so our team will evaluate each patient on a case-by-case basis and work with you to find a solution.
Take the First Step Towards Your New Smile
If cared for properly, dental implants can last for your entire lifetime, giving you a smile to be proud of. We’re here to help you, and can support you in choosing the right dental implant for you.