Did you know that 28% of people feel embarrassed by the condition of their teeth and mouth? Missing, chipped or severely decayed teeth make many people feel self-conscious about smiling, not to mention cause problems with chewing, eating, speech and articulation and confidence levels. Dental implants are a great solution to provide a strong replacement for teeth.
Dental implants are artificial teeth that are anchored into the jaw by a metal post, to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. The metal post of an implant is surgically situated into the jawbone beneath the gums. Implants are an option for patients who have lost a tooth or multiple teeth due to injury, periodontal disease or for other reasons.
Are you a candidate for dental implants?
If you are missing one or more teeth, implants can restore your smile by matching your natural teeth with replacements made of titanium and ceramic materials. Being in good oral health is ideal for making sure that implants set and heal properly in the mouth. It is most important to have adequate bone so that the base of the implant will anchor firmly into the jaw bone. Moreover, having healthy gum tissue that is free of periodontal disease is important since the implants connect directly into the jaw bone and tissue.
If you’re missing one tooth the base of the dental implant is inserted into the jaw bone and a crown made to match your natural teeth is fastened into place.
If you’re missing more than one tooth, multiple implants are supported by bridgework for as few as three units.
Several factors can influence whether or not a person is a candidate for implants, including severe gum disease, smoking, ability to regrow jaw bone, certain illnesses, metabolic health and certain medications. Your dentist will assess your oral health to determine the best course of treatment for you.
Types of implants and what to expect
There are two types of dental implants:
Endosteal implants are a two-part process where metal implants are surgically inserted into the jawbone. Once the tissue around the implant heals, an artificial tooth or teeth is attached to the base. This is the most common type of implant that is used.
Subperiosteal implants are a metal frame that is placed under the gums but above the jawbone. The posts protrude from the gums providing a mount for the implants. This type of implant is most commonly used in patients who have a shallow jawbone.
You will meet with your dentist initially to assess your oral health and talk about what your individual dental implant needs are. In your consultation, the dentist will conduct a thorough exam and x-rays, as well as create impressions of your teeth and gums. The dentist will assess your individual course of treatment. Patients who have thin jaw bones may need additional surgical treatment called bone grafting to rebuild the jaw so that it is strong enough to hold an implant in place.
In your first appointment, the implant is surgically placed into an incision in the jaw made by your dentist. The base of the implant will act as a root for the crown that is attached. The incisions are stitched up and left to heal for several weeks while the implant integrates with your jaw bone. On follow up, once the initial incisions have healed, a second incision is made to expose the implant and prepare the gum tissue to heal around the area. A healing cap is placed atop the implant so that the gum tissue will heal around the area. Finally, after the healing process, you will visit your dentist to have the permanent cap or crown attached to the implant to fill the space where the missing tooth is. The entire process will take several months, including surgery and healing time. Those who require a bone graft or those in poor oral health may experience a longer process start to finish than those in good oral health.
What kind of care do implants need?
Implants function just like natural teeth, and with proper care can last for many years without needing repair. Good dental hygiene is important for caring for both natural teeth and dental implants. Be sure to brush and floss twice daily, and visit the dentist for annual exams twice a year. If you do experience pain or infection in or around your implant do not hesitate to contact your dentist.
There are possible complications that can occur on occasion with dental implants. Implants can fail if an infection develops, if there is not enough bone in the jaw, if the bite of the jaw is misaligned, or due to extended pressure on the implant from activities like tooth grinding (bruxism) or clenching.
How to pay for dental implants
While dental implants can cost more than other restorative dentistry procedures, the results of your smile are worth the expense. Although some insurance will not cover dental implants, many will cover expenses like diagnostics and tooth extractions that might be required. Jefferson Dental offers the Sonrisa Dental Discount Plan to help cover dental care costs. New patients can receive free exam and x-rays and all members receive up to 60% off of dental treatment costs.