Understanding Dental Implants
Nobody wants to have a smile full of holes where their teeth should be. There are a number of ways to deal with missing teeth, but a dental implant is the best, most permanent solution for a missing tooth or teeth.
The American Academy of Implant Dentistry defines a dental implant as:
“a device placed beneath the soft tissue layer upon, within, or through the bone to retain or support a dental prosthesis.”
Essentially, a dental implant is an artificial tooth with a metal post functioning as the tooth’s roots. This post, which connects to the jaw bone, is attached to the implant and allows for a long-lasting tooth that feels and functions like a natural tooth.
How long does the procedure take?
The timetable for a dental implant surgery varies from case to case. The process will take longer if a person needs a tooth removed first. Another operation that can lengthen the process is a bone graft—a surgical procedure that involves taking a piece of bone from another area of the body and installing it where the implant will go.
The installation of the implant is a straightforward process. After anesthetic is used, an oral surgeon will set the replacement tooth (or replacement teeth) into the upper or lower jawbone. If the patient’s tooth is already missing and they do not need a bone graft to support the implant, the whole process is relatively simple.
Usually, you should allow for three months between the placement of the implant and the installation of the crown. From start to finish, the average dental implant procedure takes three to four visits over the span of four months.
What are the benefits of dental implants?
Installing artificial teeth may seem like an intimidating, time-consuming process, but the benefits far outweigh any inconvenience or pain that you may endure. Here are some of the primary benefits of dental implants:
- Permanence: This is one of the most compelling benefits of dental implants. While bridges or dentures can be useful, their temporary nature also means that they may need to be replaced later on. With dental implants, you can easily forget that you have artificial teeth.
- Appearance: A noteworthy benefit of installing an artificial tooth is that it will look like a real tooth. While dentures are often visibly fake, artificial implanted teeth appear real. This is important for maintaining strong confidence and self-image, as having visibly fake teeth can be embarrassing.
- Eating: Being able to chew your food comfortably and effectively is very important. With dentures or bridges, this simple, necessary task often becomes difficult. Implants function like your real teeth, which means chewing does not present any difficulties.
Who is a candidate for dental implants?
Not everyone needs dental implants. If you have all of your teeth and they are all healthy, then you are probably not a candidate. You should consider dental implants if you meet any of the following requirements:
- You are missing one or more adult teeth. This is the most common reason for implants. You may be missing several teeth, or you may only need an implant for one tooth.
- Your tooth or teeth deteriorate. Whether it occurs because of genetics, poor oral hygiene, or a lack of dental care, teeth often deteriorate. When this happens, it generally makes more sense to simply remove and replace the teeth than try to repair them.
- You cannot or will not use dentures. Dentures can be effective, especially in the case that the majority of your teeth are gone. Yet dentures can also be a hassle, as you have to remember to take them out and put them back in.
Is this procedure uncomfortable?
Generally, the procedure does not cause a significant amount of discomfort. Anesthesia is used during the surgery itself, and other pain medications help dull the pain the procedure is complete.
With an effective treatment plan, the healing process will be quick and relatively painless. Proper care after the operation will ensure that you do not endure unnecessary pain or side effects.
While undesired repercussions are typically minimal, here are a few side effects that can potentially occur:
- Nerve damage
- Collateral damage to surrounding teeth and bones
If you or someone you know is missing teeth, schedule an appointment with us. Our passionate team at East Valley Dental is more than qualified to partner with you on your journey to better dental health.
What is the time frame for this procedure?
In some cases, the implant can be placed at the same appointment as the tooth removal. In other cases, grafting may be needed or additional time required if an infection must be resolved first before the placement of the implant. Usually about three months are required from when the implant is placed until crown procedure is started.
From start to finish, the average dental implant treatment procedure takes three to four visits over the span of about four months.