Understanding Dental Implants
There are two basic parts of a dental implant: The implant itself and a restoration that is attached after the healing process is complete. A dental implant is a small, rod or screw-shaped piece of titanium that is inserted directly into your jaw and gum tissue where your missing tooth used to be. After it heals, the implant functions as an artificial tooth root. Titanium has the unique ability to bond permanently (or “osseointegrate”) with your gum and jaw tissue, providing a stable platform upon which a restoration (typically a dental crown) can be placed.
The Placement And Restoration Process
During your first appointment, you’ll have your dental implant surgically placed in your gum line. One of our dentists will clean and numb your mouth, and create a small opening in your gum where your missing tooth used to be. The dental implant will be placed in this opening and it will be cleaned and sutured shut. After this, you’ll be sent home to recover and our team will be in contact to check in and ensure that your healing process is going smoothly. It takes about 3-6 months for the dental implant to “osseointegrate” and bond permanently with your oral tissue.
As you heal, the team at Enamel Dentistry will work closely with an outside lab to create a dental crown that will match your existing teeth perfectly. When your mouth has healed, you’ll come in for a follow-up appointment and your dental crown will be checked for proper fit. The crown will then be permanently attached directly to your dental implant. You’ll leave our office with a complete, confident smile.
Are Dental Implants Right For Me?
As a rule, dental implants are best for patients who have good overall oral health. You must be free of gum disease and other dental health issues like tooth decay. Non-smokers are also preferred, as tobacco use can interfere with the process of implant placement and healing. Most importantly, your gum and jaw will need to be strong enough to support a dental implant.
The best way to determine whether you are a good candidate for implant surgery is to schedule a consultation at Enamel Dentistry. Our dentists will thoroughly assess your health and give you honest advice and guidance about your restorative options.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Dental implants have a number of unique benefits compared to other methods of smile restoration such as dental bridges and partial dentures:
- Long-lasting and durable – Dental implants are built to last, and they integrate with your jaw to become a natural part of your body. You can expect your dental implants to last 30+ years with proper care, and most people are able to keep their implants for the rest of their lives. This means that, in the long run, dental implants are often the most cost-effective method for restoring your smile, since dentures and bridges usually must be replaced every 5-15 years.
- Completely natural look and feel – Your dental implant and restoration will look and feel just like a natural tooth in every way. It will be indistinguishable from a real tooth when you smile, speak, and eat. With a dental implant, you’ll be able to get back to your day-to-day life and reverse the negative effects of tooth loss.
- Supports the strength of your jaw bone – Unlike dentures and dental bridges, implants bond with your jaw and help support the bone by placing pressure on the jaw when you chew and smile, preventing resorption.
- Requires no special care – To care for your dental implant, all you need to do is brush twice a day and floss once per day, just like you would for your natural teeth. It’s also important to see your dentist at Enamel Dentistry for regular six-month cleanings and check-ups. That’s it! No other special care or precautions are required.
- Keep adjacent teeth intact – The most popular permanent alternative to a dental implant is a fixed bridge. Fixed bridges use two crowns that attach to healthy “abutment” teeth and suspend a false tooth (pontic) in the gap where your missing tooth used to be. This restores your smile, but requires the intentional removal of healthy enamel from the abutment teeth. With a dental implant, this is not necessary.
Understanding How Implants Protect Your Mouth
When you lose a tooth, the root of the tooth no longer transmits force to your jaw bone from biting, chewing, and smiling. Because it is no longer being stimulated, the bone will begin to deteriorate. This process of weakening bone is known as “resorption.” You could lose up to 25% of bone mass within a year after losing your tooth.
Dental implants prevent bone resorption because they are permanently attached and bonded to your jaw bone. This stimulates the bone just like a natural tooth root would, preventing your jaw bone from weakening, and keeping your mouth strong.
The Importance Of Implant Treatment
If you do not replace your tooth at all, you will have issues speaking and chewing due to tooth loss. In addition, your remaining teeth will start to shift toward the now-empty socket, which can cause issues with your tooth alignment. If you choose an alternative treatment like a partial denture or a bridge, you can restore your smile, but your jaw will continue to deteriorate and become weaker. That’s why we typically recommend dental implants to eligible candidates.