What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are metal cylinders that are surgically placed beneath the gums to provide support for artificial teeth. Crowns, bridges, or dentures can be attached to the implants to provide a secure and stable fit. This helps artificial teeth feel more natural than conventional bridges and dentures.
Why Get Implants?
If teeth need to be extracted, your dentist may recommend replacing them with a bridge, dentures, or an implant to fill the gap. Dentures are removable while an implant remains fixed in place, making implants more secure. Bridges need to be attached to adjacent teeth while an implant does not.
Generally, an implant will be the longest lasting and most comfortable option compared to bridges or dentures. As well, implants will help to maintain the jawbone in the area that it is placed.
Benefits of Implants
Missing teeth can cause lowered self-esteem and poor eating habits. Being fitted with implants can allow an overall improved appearance, and provides an option that looks and feels like your natural teeth. Additionally, if dentures are ill-fitting in the mouth, they can cause a lisp or other speech impediments.
Implants are generally more comfortable and durable than temporary or removable alternatives. As well, implants will help to prevent jawbone deterioration in the area that it is placed.
Dental Implants vs. Traditional Dentures
Dentures are one of the most common options when it comes to replacing lost teeth. They usually need to be secured to the roof of the mouth using denture adhesive. If not secured properly, they can sometimes become loose and slip out of place when you’re talking or eating.
Partial dentures must be fitted onto adjacent teeth, and if not fitted correctly, they can cause decay on the surrounding teeth. However, dentures are usually the best option for patients with weak or unhealthy gums or jaws.
Dental implants can be beneficial as they can last up to 20 years with proper oral care and hygiene. They are a popular alternative to dentures if you only have 1 or 2 missing teeth, but can also be an option if you have several missing teeth. However, dental implants require you to have a healthy jaw and gums.
How Dental Implants Work
Dental implants are made up of 3 parts: the base, connector, and the crown. The base is a metal screw that is fused to your jawbone to provide a stable base for the implant. The connector – also called an “abutment” – is a hexagonal or octagonal attachment that secures the base to the crown. The crown is the cap that is placed over the connector that resembles a tooth, usually made of ceramic.
What to Expect When Getting Implants
As mentioned, dental implant surgery is a multi-stage process with time to heal between appointments. The process involves removing the damaged tooth, jawbone grafting (if necessary), implant placement, bone growth and healing, connector placement, and crown placement. Getting a dental implant can take months from the first step to the last, which allows the jaw to heal and the implant to fuse correctly to the jawbone.
Grafting may be required when your jawbone isn’t strong or thick enough to support an implant. Grafts provide a sturdier base for the implant to ensure a successful procedure.
Following the surgical phase of placing the implant, there can be some minor discomfort. Your dentist may provide pain medication or antibiotics to prevent infection and speed up the healing process.
After the complete procedure, it is important to practice good oral hygiene habits with proper brushing and flossing. It is also beneficial to visit your dentist regularly for dental exams and cleanings.
Cutting out harmful habits, like smoking, can also ensure your implant heals properly and lasts a long time without damage or decay. Always make sure to bring up any concerns you have during or after healing with your dentist.
Implant Care & Hygiene Best Practices
Taking care of your implant looks and feels the same as taking care of your natural teeth, but it should be taken into account that they are artificial and food and bacteria can get stuck in areas surrounding the implant. If food particles or bacteria are left to build up around the implant, they can form plaque and may lead to an infection.
Brushing after every meal can help to release any stuck food particles and keep your implant clean. Using an interdental brush can help, as they are specially designed to clean between your teeth where regular toothbrushes cannot reach.
Flossing, combined with regular brushing, helps to get hard to reach areas and ensure no food particles are stuck between teeth, which may lead to decay. With implants, it is recommended to use an unwaxed dental tape or floss made specifically for implants.
Oral irrigators can also be used to reduce plaque and inflammation. They use a high-pressure stream of water to floss between the teeth and remove plaque and debris.
Dental Implant FAQs
Are implants dangerous?
Dental implants have been used for over 50 years as a permanent option for missing or damaged teeth. Most implants are successful when performed by a qualified dental health professional.
Your dentist will also discuss any potential risks that are unique to you, and will never recommend implants as an option for you if you do not meet eligibility criteria. Implant failure rates are very low, and success rates are very high.
Do implants work like real teeth?
Implants were designed to look and feel like your natural teeth. After a healed procedure, you are highly unlikely to notice any difference between the implant and your natural teeth.
They are made of an off-white ceramic to match the rest of your teeth and are sturdy and hard enough (after healing) to provide the support you need to eat all the food you would normally eat.
Is the implant procedure safe?
Due to the nature of dental implant surgery, plenty of time is left between steps to allow the gums and jawbone to heal correctly. The procedure often takes up to a few months, so it is monitored every step of the way to ensure safe, correct healing and a sturdy final product.
Are implants painful?
As with any surgery that involves incisions, some post-operative pain can be expected. Your dentist may prescribe pain medication to help manage any discomfort. Contact your dentist if you have any questions during healing.
Who is a candidate for dental implant surgery?
Dental implants are connected to the gum tissue and jawbone, so the ideal candidate should have good oral hygiene habits and healthy gums. Additionally, being in good overall physical health will increase your chances of being an eligible candidate for dental implants. Contact Country Hills Dental to find out if you are a candidate.