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Dental Implants

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What are dental implants?

Dental implants are often the best treatment for missing teeth.  When a damaged or decayed tooth is removed, both the visible part of the tooth, called the crown, and the root are lost.

A dental implant is placed in the jawbone so that it can fuse with your natural bone and become a strong and sturdy foundation for replacement teeth. Implants can be used to replace an individual tooth or for an implant-supported bridge or denture containing multiple teeth.

Dental implants are the closest you can get to healthy, natural teeth. They will allow you to confidently eat, smile, laugh, talk, play and enjoy all of your regular activities of everyday life without thinking about your teeth.

 

Who needs dental implants?

Dental implant patients are all ages, and implants may be the right choice for anyone missing one, multiple, or even all of their teeth due to injury, defects, disease or decay.

To determine if implants are right for you, a consultation with your dentist or oral surgeon is needed. During this appointment, he will examine your teeth and gums and evaluate bone density and quantity. This may involve X-rays and computer tomography scans (CT scans) to ensure there is sufficient bone structure for placing the implant(s), and to determine exactly where the implant should be placed.

Based on the condition of your oral tissues, oral hygiene and personal habits, and commitment to follow aftercare instructions, your dentist will advise you of the most appropriate dental implant treatment plan. Some patients with insufficient bone or gum tissue require bone or soft tissue grafts and/or the use of small diameter implants (also called mini implants).

Depending on your situation, your dental professional will advise you of how long the entire treatment process will take, how many appointments will be necessary and what you can expect after each procedure. During the consultation, options for local anesthesia (to numb the affected and surrounding areas) and sedation dentistry, if necessary, also will be discussed.

How do dental implants work?

At Tracey Bell, teeth restored with dental implants look, feel and function just like natural teeth. You brush, floss and visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings, the same as you would to care for a natural tooth.

After meeting with a dental implant dentist to develop your treatment plan, the placement of a dental implant usually involves several steps:

  1. The dental implant, usually a cylindrical and/or tapered post made of titanium, is placed surgically into the jawbone.
  2. As you heal, your implant will Osseo integrate, or fuse with, your natural jawbone, with the two growing together to form a strong and long-lasting foundation for your replacement teeth. This healing process can take weeks to months while you proceed with your everyday life in between appointments.
  3. Once the implant bonds with the jawbone, a small connector – called an abutment – is placed on top of the dental implant to connect the implant to the replacement tooth or teeth.
  4. An individual tooth, an implant-supported bridge or dentures containing multiple teeth are then attached to the abutment.

What are the benefits of dental implants?

  • The next best thing to healthy, natural teeth.  Strong and stable, a dental implant restores a lost tooth so that it looks, feels, fits and functions like a natural tooth.
  • Built to last. Dental implants are a long-term solution. Traditional, tooth-supported dental bridges only last five to seven years, and with proper care often more than 10 years, but at some point they may need to be replaced.
  • No need to stay home or feel uncomfortable in public, embarrassed because your smile looks different, or worrying that missing teeth will limit your ability to join in the fun or that removable dentures or tooth-supported replacement teeth will loosen or fall out when you talk, eat or laugh. Teeth restored with dental implants are teeth that let you, not your teeth, lead your life.
  • A face without teeth can sag and appear sunken and sad. Dental implants allow you to maintain the natural shape of your face and smile.
  • Leaving empty spaces in your mouth after losing one or more teeth can lead to additional health issues, such as the loss and deterioration of some of your jawbone. When it is not being used to support a natural tooth, the jawbone deteriorates, losing its strength and firmness. Dental implants are the only dental restoration option that preserves and stimulates natural bone, actually helping to stimulate bone growth and prevent bone loss.
  • Dental implants allow you to keep your teeth where they belong – in your mouth. And no more worrying that your dentures might slip or fall out. Brush, floss and care for teeth that have been replaced using dental implants exactly the way you would natural teeth – in your mouth.
  • Adjusting to removable dentures can mean struggling to pronounce everyday words. Not so with dental implants, which function like natural teeth.
  • Taste and enjoy the foods you love without hesitation. You can bite naturally, eat virtually anything you want and, unlike removable dentures that can feel uncomfortable, you can experience the full taste of the food you eat with dental implants, too.
  • Cavities can’t occur in an implant-restored crown, or replacement tooth; however, you will need to visit your dentist as scheduled and clean and care for it and your gums and mouth every day, the same as you would if it were a natural tooth.
  • Dentures may slip when you eat, talk, smile, laugh, kiss, yawn or cough, so that you have to “reposition” them back into place in the mouth. Dental implants are fixed in place and fuse naturally with your jawbone, meaning your replacement teeth won’t move, click or shift.
  • Dental implants go in the jawbone, in the spot where your missing tooth root was, without impacting healthy teeth. They also help prevent healthy, adjacent teeth from shifting as they would if an empty space were left for an extended period of time.
  • Dental implant treatment has a track record of reliable, long-term successful outcomes and is often considered “more predictable” than other treatments to repair or replace missing teeth, including bridgework, removable appliances and re-treatment of failing root canal (endodontic) therapy.

How do I care for my dental implants?

Caring for teeth restored with dental implants is just like caring for your natural teeth: brush, floss and maintain regular dental cleanings and check-ups, as scheduled. Additional cleaning aids also may be recommended to help you keep your teeth healthy at home.

As is the case with natural teeth, you and your dentist must work as a team to ensure the longevity of your dental implant.  While replacement teeth can’t get cavities, they are subject to the same wear-and-tear as natural teeth. Well-placed and cared for dental implants have the potential to last a lifetime.


 

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