Dental implants are small metal screws inserted into the gums and provide a base for artificial teeth replacing natural teeth that have either fallen out or been removed as a result of damage or decay.
Implants are one of several options your dentist could use to replace lost or damaged teeth. The primary difference between dental implants and other procedures like bridges and dentures is durability. Not only do they last much longer than other dental solutions, but dental implants also slow bone and tooth decay, protect the facial bone structure, and protect surrounding healthy teeth.
When a tooth comes loose, decayed, or is removed, the space left by the removed tooth affects the health of your jaw and the surrounding teeth. Without a solid body in that vacant space along the gums, nothing remains to stabilize the surrounding teeth and jawbone. This may cause movement in nearby teeth, reddened gums, decay of cartilage or bone, and quicker tooth decay. Dental implants provide a permanent solution to the health problems that can occur as a result of missing or severely decayed teeth.
Each dental implant has three components. The implants are small titanium posts that are placed into the jawbone, the abutment, attaches to the post, and the crown, another name for a replacement tooth, that is customized to match your natural tooth line and fill in gaps properly. The implants mimic the function of a real tooth root and support both the jaw and the new tooth attachments, called abutments, which will serve as the base for your new prosthetic teeth and crown.
The perfect dental implant procedure for a potential patient depends on many factors, such as the number of remaining teeth, the arrangement of the missing and remaining teeth, and the health and strength of the patient’s mouth and jawbone.
Any person who is in good health with sufficient jawbone density can be a candidate for dental implants. However, there are a few indicators that could tell your doctor that you might not be a good candidate for dental implants:
The first step in the dental implant process is the initial consultation and patient evaluation. This is when you will find out if you are a good candidate for dental implants. X-rays are taken to verify the health, strength and density of your jawbone, because you must have enough bone density to support the screws of the implants. Your doctor will also ask you some questions about your dental health habits. You will also have models made of your teeth and mouth for the creation of your custom prostheses (implant-supported dentures or bridges).
Every implant procedure is different for every patient and is determined by factors such as the number of teeth to be replaced, their place in the mouth, and the health of the surrounding tissue, bone and teeth. If you have lived with spaces between your teeth for a long time or had other oral health issues, your jaw may not be strong enough to hold the implants immediately and you may need a bone graft to make your jaw stable enough for the procedure. Tooth extractions, root canals, or gum grafts are all additional procedures that you might need in order to be a candidate for implants and to ensure they can deliver the best results for your health.
Next in the process is the first of two surgical procedures–implant placement. Incisions are made into the gums and the small titanium posts are inserted. The gums around the incisions will then be sewed closed to heal for three to six months. This time between surgical procedures makes sure that your jaw and implants undergo a process called osseointegration, when the jawbone fuses to the implants. Implant placement can be performed under general or local anesthesia, depending on your unique circumstances and your doctor’s determination.
The second surgical procedure is abutment placement. An abutment is a metal piece that covers the implant and provides a secure base to connect the crowns. During the abutment placement procedure, your doctor will remove any gum tissue from over your implants and attach the abutment. The damaged tissue will then be sewed up around the abutment but not over it, leaving the abutment ready for your future crowns. If there is a waiting period for your permanent crowns, your doctor may take this opportunity to place a temporary crown over the abutment to protect it.
Once your gums and jaw have healed from all the requisite procedures, you are ready for your custom teeth or crown placement, which could be bridges, dentures, or individual crowns.
Taking care of dental implants after a procedure is extremely important to make sure your gums heal correctly and to avoid further health complications. Important steps you can take to help to heal the wounds include rinsing regularly with salt water or a sterile solution, using doctor-prescribed or over-the-counter pain medicine and anti-inflammatories as directed, and avoiding chewy or crunchy foods for a while.
After your incisions have healed, you’ll protect your dental implants the same as you would your natural teeth, with regular brushing and flossing as well as routine dental cleanings and exams. This helps reduce the risk of gum disease and gives your dentist a chance to ensure the bone and gum tissue surrounding the implants is strong and healthy for years to come.
The number of implants needed. A single dental implant will be less expensive than several. Patients with weaker jawbones or lower bone density may need more implants to support the prosthesis structure.
The current state of your oral health. If your mouth is not healthy you may need additional procedures to take care of things like gum disease or cavities before your doctor performs a dental implant procedure. Teeth removal, root canals to heal any infections and tissue, or bone grafts are all procedures that may need to occur before you are ready for a dental implant procedure.
When considering the total cost of dental implants, it’s important to remember that this is an investment into your long-term health. Dental implants may seem more expensive at first when considering other dental procedures, but procedures like dentures and bridges typically incur other costs down the road in maintenance, adjustments and replacement costs. Dental implants are a dental health solution with minimal maintenance costs that will last a lifetime.
Dental insurance plans should also be considered when discussing your future dental procedures. Dental offices like Monarch Dental often offer flexible financing options to help you afford your procedure, and, at Monarch Dental, we even offer our own insurance, the OneSmile Dental Plan, to help make paying for your dental implants even easier.
You deserve the smile you’ve always wanted and Monarch Dental is ready to help with our many affordable dental services. Our retail locations offer complete dental care, including dental implants, and we’re proud to be a dental health partner who can care for every member of your family at every stage of life. Schedule an appointment today at a Monarch Dental location near you and find out if you’re a good candidate for dental implants.