What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant can be used to replace a tooth that’s missing, or to keep a denture plate firmly in place. Implant technology has completely changed over the past few years, and they now offer the durability and strength you need for a lifelong restoration. Implants are permanent, so once they have healed properly, you can expect an entire lifetime of beautiful smiles. Implants rely on a process that is known as osseointegration. Osseointegration occurs when your natural bone grows in and around a foreign object in your body. In this case, the foreign object is the implant, and the process helps to stabilize the post to provide an abutment for a dental crown.
Why might you need a Dental Implant?
If you’re completely missing a natural tooth, you might want, or need, an implant. In the past, your only two choices to replace a missing tooth were to wear a partial denture, or have a fixed bridge placed on the two adjacent teeth. Both of these options are still incredibly beneficial for many patients, but implants do not require needing removable appliance or filing down surrounding teeth. Alternatively, patients who wear ill-fitting dentures, and want a more confident fit, may have implants placed that snap onto the appliance. Both dental crowns and dentures need to be custom made to fit over the healed implants. Osseointegration of the implant takes an average time of five months, but it may happen quicker for some, or take as long as six to seven months for others.
What makes you a candidate for Dental Implants?
Dental implants require oral surgery in order to carefully place them. The implant post is placed deep into the bone of the jaw, so you will receive anesthetic, or sedation if necessary. Prior to the surgery, we will discuss what type of sedation you want, or need, for the procedure to be done. Some patients are comfortable with local anesthetic, especially if only one implant is being placed. Others benefit from partial or full sedation, so that they don’t have to worry about becoming too uncomfortable or stressed during the duration of the surgery. The surgery requires that you have good bone density in order for osseointegration to take place effectively. Some patients may require a bone graft prior to surgery if they have insufficient bone mass. If you have a disorder or disease that inhibits your body from healing, you may not be eligible for the implant surgery.
What should you expect when having Dental Implants placed?
The first step is administering an anesthetic or sedation of your choosing. Once the area is numb, or you have been sedated, a tiny incision is made through the gums to expose the bone underneath. A tool is used to create a canal-like tube in the bone so that it can house the implant post. The implant post is screwed into place, and the incision is closed with sutures. In some cases, a retainer may be used to keep the implant in place while it is healing, although, this isn’t often needed. You will need to come into the office regularly, having the implant examined to ensure osseointegration is occurring naturally. In the rare case that the implant fails, you’ll need to have it removed, and may require bone grafting to place a new one.