If your teeth are removed or missing, dental implant surgery may be an option for you. We help patients, just like you, restore their smiles and improve their biting with dental implants using a 3D cone beam scan. An implant involves posts being inserted into jaw bone to simulate a real tooth.
These metal posts are a technologically advanced post and are a good option when there's not enough of a tooth's root left to use bridges or dentures for tooth replacement.
Since your jaw and dental structure are vital to implant success, we'll conduct a thorough dental examination first. The exam will determine what procedures may be necessary to perform dental implant surgery.
You may need multiple procedures, but in the end, an implant offers solid support for your new teeth.
Once we've inserted the post into your jawbone, we'll need to wait until the bone heals around the implant. Bone healing is the longest part of the procedure and can take months to occur. But once healed, your implants will look almost identical to your natural teeth – or even better.
Why We Recommend Dental Implants
Restoring your smile and bite is difficult when there's no root for a denture or bridge to attach to in your mouth. So, implants are surgically placed into your jawbone using titanium posts. Implants won't slip and won't need to be removed from your mouth every night.
Compared to bridgework or dentures implant materials won't decay or require fillings. For example, titanium is extremely strong, durable and resistant. However, bridgework can deteriorate over time, causing you to schedule more dental appointments to have the bridge repaired or replaced.
We take many factors into account to determine whether dental implants are the ideal choice for you. A few of the reasons that implants may be a good choice is if you have:
- One or multiple missing teeth
- A full-grown jawbone
- Bone structure able to support the implant, or a bone graft is an option to help create the structure
- Don't suffer from conditions that can slow the bone healing process
When you can commit months to the implant process, don't want to wear dentures or can't, and want to improve your speech, implants are a good option. Implants are not a good option for people who smoke or chew tobacco.
Preparing for Dental Implant Surgery
The first step in the implant process is a comprehensive examination at our office. We need to be sure that you're a good candidate for implants, and this starts with a thorough dental exam with the dentist. The exam may include:
- 3D images
- Models of your teeth and jaw
- Evaluations of any existing root canals, veneers or remaining wisdom teeth
We'll also take the time to review your medical history. The dentist will need to know if you have any medical conditions and in addition, we'll need to know if you take prescription and over-the-counter medications and/or supplements.
There are times when we'll prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. Patients are at higher risk of infection when they have orthopedic implants in their body.
Once we have all of the facts and a good understanding of your medical history and dental needs, we'll develop a treatment plan specifically for you. Our plan will look at your dental situation as a whole and be based on the position of your remaining teeth, your jawbone condition, the shade of your teeth and how many teeth we'll need to replace.
Pain is possible, so we'll also develop a strategy to control your pain.
A few of the options to control pain are:
- Anesthesia options, including sedation, general or local anesthesia
- Pain medication options following the procedure
Our team will instruct you on which option we think is best for you. We'll also discuss your responsibilities before the surgery, such as when you need to stop eating or drinking, depending on the anesthetic chosen.
We do ask that you have someone who can drive you home following surgery if taking sedation medication.
You should also plan to have the entire day off because you will need to rest for the day after surgery. However, if possible, try and have two days off for good measure.
What You Can Expect During Dental Implant Surgery
A quick and simple overview of your dental surgery is as follows:
- If the tooth where the implant is going is still present, we'll remove the damaged tooth
- When necessary, we'll prepare the jawbone, which may include a bone graft
- Once ready, we'll put the dental implant post in place
- When the bone heals around the post, we'll continue with the abutment placement
- Finally, the artificial tooth is placed
The entire procedure is done outpatient and in multiple stages. First, we have to allow the healing process to occur naturally, which takes time. Traditionally, it takes months from the first exam to the final attachment of your artificial tooth.
We must wait for the bone and gums to heal. Then, bone growth must also occur.
We always try to combine as many procedures as possible to speed up your implant process. So, when you're in our office, we'll better understand how long the dental implants will take.
When is Bone Grafting Required?
Bone grafts are required if your jawbone is too soft or simply not thick enough to confidently hold the implant post in place. When you chew, the jaw has immense power that puts pressure on the jawbone.
If the jaw does require a graft, this means that your bone is unlikely to support an implant naturally. The surgery may fail if we recommend a bone graft procedure, and you choose not to have it done.
Grafting creates a solid base that enables the dental implant to be successful.
We can use multiple materials for a bone graft, including:
- Natural bone grafts where the bone is taken from another bone in the body
- Artificial bone graft where a material similar to bone is used
The dentist will discuss which bone grafting options are ideal for you and your jawbone structure. The key most important thing is to be sure that the bone structure can support the implants.
Bone graft heal times depend on how much bone grafting is necessary. First, we'll need to examine your jawbone to determine if a minor or significant bone graft is necessary. Major bone grafts require healing time before the implant can be placed.
But if a minor bone graft is needed, we may be able to perform it simultaneously during your dental implant surgery.
How the Dental Implant Process Works
Dental implant surgery is complicated, but you can expect the process to go as follows:
- Cut the gum open to expose the underlying bone
- Drill into the bone to create a hole for the implant post
- Place the metal post in place
Since the post serves as a tooth's root, it must be implanted deep into the bone. As a result, the post will leave a gap in your mouth where the tooth is missing. However, over the course of a few months, the jawbone will heal and grow into the implant.
During the healing process, a partial or temporary denture will be placed if necessary. If the missing tooth is visible, these dentures provide a way to restore your smile while waiting for the healing process to complete.
Once healed, the implant will be as solid and secure as your natural tooth's root.
Placing the Abutment
Once the bone has healed appropriately, the abutment process can begin. Considered a surgical procedure, the abutment will be placed and is where the new crown is attached. Local anesthesia is necessary, and you'll return home the same day as the procedure.
When we place the abutment, it will follow the process below:
- We'll cut the gums open to expose the implant
- We'll attach the abutment to the implant
- Close the gum tissue around the abutment
We may attach the abutment to the implant post to help reduce the number of times you need to come into the office. Reducing the number of times surgery is necessary is our primary goal. The abutment will be visible due to it being placed right past your natural gum line.
The good news is that you won't see the abutment unless you open your mouth.
Once healed, for the final step of the cosmetic process we'll attach the artificial tooth so that you can smile with confidence once again.
How to Choose Your Artificial Teeth
Once the gum has healed, we can finally get to the most exciting part of the implant process: choosing your artificial teeth. First, we'll take the time to make more impressions of your remaining teeth and your mouth. The images allow us to make a crown that looks as natural as possible.
The crown is placed when the jawbone can support the new tooth.
You'll have two main types of teeth to choose from:
- Removable: A removable denture, either partial or full, can be created and attached to the abutment. The denture snaps into place and can be removed if it needs repairs or must be cleaned.
- Fixed: A fixed implant attaches to the implant either with cement or screws. Depending on the tooth and our recommendation, we may attach more than one tooth to an implant that is bridged together.
We'll discuss both of these options with you to determine which type of dental implants are ideal for your jaw.
What to Expect After the Dental Procedure
Dental implants do require a surgical procedure, which can result in:
- Face or gum swelling
- Bruising of your gums or face
- Implant site pain
- Minor bleeding
We may recommend pain medications and prescribe antibiotics following surgery to ease pain and reduce infection risk. You'll need to eat soft foods while the surgical site heals. We're likely to use dissolvable stitches so that we don't need to remove them in our office.
Note: Are you still suffering from pain or discomfort several days after dental implant surgery and time isn't helping? Be sure to contact us immediately.
Dental implant Risks
Any time that you have surgery, there are risks involved. We always do our best to minimize the complications involved with implant surgery. However, there are still risks, although they're very rare and easy to treat.
You may experience one or a combination of the following risks:
- Implant site infection
- Damage to the surrounding structure, including blood vessels or teeth
- Damage to the nerve, causing numbness or a tingling sensation in your lips, gums or other teeth
- Sinus issues, especially when the implant is inserted in the upper jaw
We'll discuss all of these risks with you before the procedure. Our team will work to minimize and identify potential risks before the procedure.
Increasing Dental Implant Success
Approximately 90% to 95% of dental implants last for ten years or longer. However, there are rare cases where the fusing of the bone and implant fails. Smoking is often a reason for implants failing. Increasing your chance of implant success requires you to follow good oral hygiene practices.
You'll want to brush your teeth with a toothbrush and a special interdental brush that removes debris between the teeth.
It's essential to remove any food from around the metal posts of the implant or gums.
We also recommend that you schedule routine dental cleanings and exams. Exams allow us to take a look at your implant to ensure stability while also cleaning your teeth.
What Happens If a Dental Implant Fails?
If implant failure occurs, we'll remove the implant and clean up the bone. Then, we can retry in three months.
Should You Get Dental Implants or Dentures?
If you're missing teeth, we may recommend either implants or dentures. Dentures are removable and replace your missing teeth and gums if necessary. The denture base is made with pink acrylic to match the color of your natural gums.
Partial or complete dentures are an option, and a lightweight metal frame may be used.
Complete dentures are recommended when you have no upper or lower teeth. These dentures rest along your gums. Partial dentures will fill in missing teeth and attach to any remaining teeth you have remaining.
Advantages of Dentures
- Less expensive than dental implants
- Don't require bone grafts
- Can be used even with gum loss
- A quick process requiring four or fewer visits
Disadvantages of Dentures
- As your face or gums change, new dentures may be necessary
- May experience difficulty chewing or speaking during the first few days of wear
- Require daily care
Implants have been covered thoroughly already and have their advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Dental Implants
- Can last up to 20 years or longer
- Care similar to regular teeth
- Act just like your normal teeth
- Allow jaw and facial structure to grow
Disadvantages of Dental Implants
- Cost more than dentures
- Implants require a healthy jaw and gums to work
In terms of paying for dentures, insurance is likely to cover dentures. However, insurance may not cover the cost of dental implant surgery. Implants are more durable and long-lasting. Over the long-term, implants preserve bone and gum tissue, while dentures do not.
Implants also require traditional brushing and improve your appearance better than dentures.
If you're considering dental implants or dentures, schedule an appointment with us to discuss your options with a dentist.