Are they an option for you?
What is Involved in Implant Placement?
Dental implants are an effective way to permanently replace missing teeth. Many kinds of implants are available and treatment can take one day, or in some cases, it can take several months, or somewhere in between. You and your dentist can discuss which type of implant is best for you.
Single Tooth Implants replace missing tooth roots. A single tooth implant is a stand-alone unit and does not involve treating the teeth next to it.
Implant-Supported Bridges and Dentures are implants that can be used when several teeth are missing. The implant-supported bridge replaces the missing natural teeth and some of the tooth roots. Unlike traditional bridges, an implant-supported bridge does not need support from the teeth next to it.
Implant-supported denture tends to be comfortable and stable, allowing you to bite and chew naturally.
You may want to choose dental implants if you hide your smile, wear dentures, are dissatisfied with your partial or just want to keep your teeth intact. Some benefits of dental implants include:
- Implants offer firm support to man-made teeth. Dentures, bridges or single teeth attached to the implants – won’t slip or shift in your mouth – a very important benefit when eating and drinking.
- This secure fit also helps man-made teeth feel more natural than typical bridges or dentures.
- Some people may find implant-supported dentures more comfortable than dentures that do not use implants.
- Where teeth are missing, dental implants also help keep the jawbone from shrinking.
- Implants are a good value, because they can last a lifetime with good care.
Implant treatment usually involves three basic steps:
Placement of the Implant
Your dentist will carefully locate where the implant should be placed, using x-rays or other instruments. Then the dentist surgically places the implant into the jawbone. You may have some swelling and/or tenderness after surgery. Your dentist may prescribe pain medicine to ease the discomfort. During the healing process, your dentist may tell you to eat soft foods.
What makes an implant so strong is that the jawbone grows around it and holds it in place. This process, called osseointegration (OSS-e-o-in-te-GRAY-shun), takes time. It may be several months before the implant is completely integrated into the bone. Then you can get the permanent tooth or teeth. In many cases, the implant and temporary replacement teeth can be placed in one visit.
Placement of the Prosthesis (Replacement Tooth or Teeth)
For a single tooth implant, the dentist custom makes a new tooth for you, called a dental crown. It is designed to look just like your other teeth.
Replacement teeth usually take some time to make. In the meantime, your dentist may give you a temporary crown, bridge or denture. This will help you eat and speak normally until the permanent replacement teeth are ready.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
If you are in good health and your jaw can support an implant, this treatment may be a good option for you. In this case, determining whether or not you are a good fit for the procedure, your health is a more important factor than your age.
Implants are not an option for everyone. Patients should be in good health or cleared by their physicians before scheduling and implant surgery. They should have enough jawbone to support the implant or be able to have surgery to build up the jawbone. Bone can be built up with a bone graft or with sinus lift surgery.
Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and leukemia, may slow healing after surgery. Implant treatment may not be a good option for patients with these illnesses. Tobacco use also can slow the healing process.
If your dentist does recommend implant treatment, close attention to oral hygiene is essential for the success of the implant. You must spend time caring for the implant and making sure the area around it is very clean. If not, you might increase your risk for gum disease, which can weaken the bone and tissues needed to support the implant.
Other Things to Think About
You should discuss implant treatment carefully with your dentist. Dental implant treatment can take longer and cost more than other replacement options. But dental implants are often a good value because they can last a lifetime.
Regular dentist visits are key to the long-term success of your implant. Your dentist will set up a program to help you keep your implant and natural teeth healthy.
Your dentist will also suggest a home care routine that meets your needs. It will include brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. You may also be advised to use a special toothbrush or mouthrinse to help prevent cavities and gum disease.
American Dental Association “Healthy Smile Tips”
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a flouride toothpaste.
- Clean between your teeth once a day.
- Eat a healthy diet and limit snacks.
- Visit your dentist regularly
For more information about taking care of your mouth and teeth, visit MouthHealthy.org, the ADA’s website just for patients.