What are dental implants, why are they used?
Millions of Americans suffer from tooth loss due to tooth decay, gingivitis, or injury. For years, the only options available for people with missing teeth were bridges and dentures. Now, with the latest dental surgical advances, patients can enjoy a better long-term option for restoring one’s smile through dental implants.
Dental implants are artificial replacement tooth roots that are made to match your natural teeth. They are made of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the human body. Implants are an effective long-term solution for people who suffer from missing teeth or chronic dental problems. They feel and function like natural teeth, and have quickly become the new standard in tooth replacement. They are an excellent long-term option for restoring your smile.
If you are self-conscious because you have missing teeth or wear dentures that are uncomfortable, talk to your dentist to see if dental implants might be a good option for you.
Do they feel like a natural tooth?
Yes, most patients find that a dental implant is secure, stable and a good replacement for their own tooth. You can use dental implants to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth or a full upper and/or lower set of teeth.
Dental implants have three parts:
1) The implant: A screw that serves as a root for your new teeth. This is what is attached to your jaw.
2) The abutment: A permanent, connector that supports and holds a tooth or set of teeth.
3) The crown: This is the part of the tooth that is visible. It is typically made of zirconium or porcelain for durability and aesthetics.
Advantages of Dental Implants
- Improved appearance. Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth restoring a confident smile. You can replace one or more missing teeth without affecting adjacent teeth.
- More comfortable. Implants eliminate the discomfort of removable teeth.
- Improve ability to eat and speak. Dentures can make chewing and speech difficult. Dental implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat and speak with more confidence.
- Improved self-esteem. Dental implants can give you your smile back and help you feel better about yourself.
- Less pain. Dental implants can resolve pain or bite issues.
- Provide durability. Implants are durable and should last many years. With the proper care, often implants will last a lifetime.
- Convenience. Dental implants eliminate the inconvenience of removing dentures, as well as the need for adhesives.
Am I a candidate for dental implants?
You may be a candidate for dental implants if you:
- Have one or more missing teeth
- Have good oral health
- Are unable or unwilling to wear dentures
- Want to improve your smile, speech or ability to chew
What type of maintenance do dental implants require?
It is important to practice good oral hygiene, which includes brushing, flossing and seeing your dentist regularly for checkups. Your dentist will need to monitor your implants to ensure they are functioning properly. Special instruments may also be necessary to clean dental implants.
What to expect with dental implant surgery?
Dental implant surgery usually requires several stages:
- Your damaged tooth is removed.
- Your jawbone is prepared for surgery, a process that may involve bone grafting.
- Once you have healed, the dental implant post is placed.
- Then, the surgeon will place an extension of the implant metal post and finally your new artificial tooth.
- The process can take three to nine months.
Whether you have dental implant surgery in one stage or multiple stages, you may experience some discomfort associated with any dental surgery, such as:
- Swelling of your gums
- Bruising of your skin and gums
- Soreness at the implant site
- Minor bleeding
Most people who have received dental implants experience very little discomfort during the procedure, and have reported feeling less pain than a tooth extraction. Local anesthesia can be used if needed.
After the dental implant, mild soreness can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications, such as Tylenol or Motrin. You may need to eat soft foods while the surgical site heals.
Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Dental Implants?
In general, dental implants are not covered by dental insurance currently. Coverage under your medical plan may be possible, depending on the insurance plan. For more detailed questions about your individual needs, please speak with our dental staff at Linden Dental Associates.