What Are Dental Implants?
The best way to think of dental implants is as if they are an “artificial root”. They serve as a sturdy base for supporting one or more artificial teeth. They are similar in shape to a screw. In relative terms, when a dental implant is placed in your jawbone, they then bond with your natural bone. Doctors use medical-grade titanium in the implant to allow the natural bone cells of your jaw to integrate into the implant surface. This enables them to become the strongest device available to support replacement teeth, while still allowing for them to look, feel, and function naturally. This helps form not only a durable but strong “anchor” for your new teeth replacements so that they do not shift or slide around.
Dental implants typically have three parts to them:
- The Implant: The base of it which screws into your jaw permanently and serves as the root for your new teeth.
- The Abutment: This is the connector that supports and holds the tooth to the implant. These are made to be permanent but in some cases can be removed by a doctor for various reasons.
- The Crown (or prosthetic tooth): This is the replacement tooth itself and is visible and above your gum. Made to look like and match the rest of your teeth and smile.
Why Should I Get Dental Implants?
People choose to get dental implants for a variety of reasons. There are many benefits from choosing to get implants. Some of them are:
- Improved facial and bone features. When you get implants they help preserve your natural tooth tissue and help doctors avoid having to cut down your adjacent teeth in order to perform other bridgework. And by helping preserve your natural tooth structure they help reduce jawbone deterioration and prevent your face from having a more aged and sunken look due to jaw bone loss.
- Easier eating. Because of the fact that implants are anchored down into your bone when you eat you do not have to worry about the possibility of your teeth shifting while you are chewing which is a common disadvantage of having dentures rather than implants.
- Improved self-esteem. This is probably one of the biggest if not the main reasons why people choose to get dental implants. Whenever a tooth is lost or there is a gap in someone’s smile they may become hesitant to show their teeth or smile often. Getting implants can solve that problem and restore their smile.
- Long-lasting and reliable. With proper care, implants can last for a long time and be very durable during that period of time. They have a success rate of over 90%!
- Convenience. Dental implants can be a permanent solution for you. Removable dentures are removable. Having to take them out and put them back in can be inconvenient especially if you are dealing with them and the different adhesives. Dental implants help get rid of that extra step.
- Improved oral health. As opposed to dentures and some other teeth replacement options, implants rarely require reducing other teeth. Because nearby teeth are not normally needed to be altered to support the implant itself. Making this a viable solution, allowing you to keep as many of your natural teeth as possible.
- Improved speech. When you lose teeth it really can have an effect on your speech and pronunciation of words. Even having dentures can cause some difficulty with speaking if they start to slip or slide while you are talking. With implants, you are able to speak comfortably without having to worry about slurred speech.
What Are The Different Ways Dental Implants Are Placed?
Depending on when the tooth was lost, there are different times at which the implants are placed. Maybe still have the tooth in place right now. Here is a look at what each has to offer:
- Immediate implant placement: Sometimes the implant can be placed on the same day that the natural tooth is removed. An example of this could be a broken tooth causing pain but doesn’t have infection around it. Oftentimes, the natural tooth can be removed and the implant would be placed in the bone in the same visit. This begins the healing process more quickly. Typically we would use a retainer with a tooth fixed to it, also called a “flipper”, to temporarily replace the missing tooth for esthetics.
- Delayed placement: This is tried and true, and how implants were placed for many years. In this method, the natural tooth is removed and a bone graft is placed when the root used to be. This allows for maintaining or building up the bone so there is enough to support the implant. After a healing phase, the implant would then be placed in the bone and allowed to heal. The temporary phase is the same, with a flipper used to replace the missing tooth for esthetics.
- Placement when the natural tooth is already missing: If the natural tooth has already been missing for a while, there are a few considerations. The first step is assessing how much natural bone and gum tissue is available to support the implant. If there is plenty of natural bone and gum tissue, the implant can be placed and allowed to heal. This is often the case with people that have lost a tooth and decided to replace it years later. Other common times this happens is when someone has been wearing conventional dentures and has decided to stabilize them with dental implants. Frequently, people are born without a tooth and need to “replace” a tooth they never actually had in the first place!
What Is The Follow-Up Care For Getting Dental Implants?
Surprisingly enough the procedure and aftercare for getting dental implants are pretty straightforward. And when followed correctly little to no discomfort should be felt. Your dentist will provide you with instructions on how to look after your mouth following the treatment. Listed below are also things you should be aware of when recovering:
- Minor bleeding is normal. Especially at the surgical site, it may bleed for a couple of hours following the procedure. Applying pressure is something that is recommended to help promote blood clotting.
- Swelling and bruising might occur. It may not be until the day after surgery that you notice some swelling and bruising occur. This is normal and should go away within the next couple of days.
- Be mindful of what you eat and drink. It is recommended that you only have cool drinks on the day of the surgery. And avoid any hot or spicy food, drinks, or alcohol. It might be hard to have some foods right after the procedure so you may want to stick to lighter and softer foods for the next day or two.
- Good oral hygiene. It is so important to your healing process that you continue to maintain healthy and good oral hygiene to help your mouth stay healthy and avoid bacteria infecting the surgical site.
Once your gums have healed from the procedure, caring for the implants will not be any different than caring for your natural teeth. Your implants will work and last as long as you take care of them correctly and do your part in ensuring your mouth and gums are healthy. In a general sense, anyone who is healthy enough to go through a tooth extraction or oral surgery is a candidate for a dental implant. The patient should have healthy gums and enough bone structure to support and hold the implant. We encourage you to contact Argyle Family Dental today to learn more and to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kennelly!