People are living longer than ever, and while regular brushing, flossing, and checkups allow many of us to maintain our natural smiles for a lifetime, sometimes our teeth just can’t keep up. If you’ve lost a tooth (or a few teeth) due to injury or disease, dental implants can rejuvenate both your smile and your oral health.
An implant is a synthetic tooth root in the shape of a post that is surgically placed into the jawbone. The “root” is usually made of titanium: the same material used in many replacement hips and knees, and a metal that is well-suited to pairing with human bone. A replacement tooth is then fixed to the post. The tooth can be either permanently attached or removable. Permanent teeth are more stable and feel more like natural teeth.
The ideal candidate for implants is a non-smoker who has good oral health, including a sufficient amount of bone in the jaw, and healthy gums with no sign of gum disease.
Single Or Multiple Implants
Implants are versatile. If you are only missing one tooth, one implant plus one replacement tooth will do the trick. If you are missing several teeth in a row, a few strategically placed implants can support a permanent bridge (a set of replacement teeth). Similarly, if you have lost all of your teeth, a full bridge or full denture can be permanently fixed in your mouth with a strategic number of implants.
Advantages Over Dentures Or Bridges
Conventional bridges and dentures are not fixed to the bone, and can therefore be unstable. This can make it difficult to eat or smile with confidence. Implants not only look more natural, but feel and act more like normal teeth, with a stronger biting force. And because they don’t directly rely on neighboring teeth for support, implants don’t compromise the health of your natural teeth. In fact, bridges are only expected to last seven to ten years, even less with root canals, whereas implants will typically last a lifetime.
Dental Implants Before & After
Consider your replacement teeth to be the same as natural teeth. They require the same daily brushing and flossing, and the same amount of regular checkups. Just like your natural teeth, the better you take care of your replacements, the longer they will last.
Our implant services include:
- Sinus Lift Augmentation: Often the sinuses will enlarge following loss of the upper back teeth. This can preclude placement of dental implants in the upper back areas of the mouth, since the sinus is an air-filled space and dental implants need to be surrounded by solid bone. A sinus lift augmentation/graft is a surgical procedure that restores the sinus cavity to its original size, and replaces the bone that has been lost as a result of the enlarged sinus. This new bone graft typically takes nine to 12 months to heal before the dental implants can be placed into the grafted bone.
- Autogenous Bone Grafting: Occasionally, the ideal areas for dental implants do not have sufficient bone quantity to support the implants. In these cases, it is often necessary to “borrow” bone from another area of your mouth and graft it into the deficient area. Often, the area of choice is from the chin or in the back of the jaw where your wisdom teeth used to be.
- Implant Site Development: When a tooth needs to be removed due to infection, it is not uncommon to have lost bone around the infected tooth. In these cases, various types of bone grafting can be done at the same time the tooth is removed to facilitate the placement of a dental implant at a later date.
- Computer-Enhanced Treatment Planning: We have special software on our computer that allows us to evaluate your dental CT scan in three dimensions for bone quality, bone quantity, and bone location, enabling the best possible placement of your dental implants. This also allows us to work closely and smoothly with your restorative dentist to ensure an ideal result where your dental implants are concerned.
- Implant Maintenance: Once your dental implant restoration is completed, it is important to keep the area clean and infection-free. Dental implants can accumulate plaque and tartar just as teeth can. Whether you have just one tooth replaced by an implant or several, a professional cleaning schedule will be necessary to keep your implants healthy. The time interval for these professional cleanings will be determined by your individual needs.
How are Dental Implants Better than a Bridge or Dentures?
It's difficult to make a blanket statement that dental implants are better than other forms of tooth replacement. This approach certainly has advantages, but it may not be the best treatment for every person. That said, in the right circumstances, dental implants can be better than traditional tooth replacement options because the insertion of titanium posts restores the foundation of the most natural oral anatomy. Your dental implants become new teeth roots. They provide stability to your artificial teeth and they also support the ongoing regeneration of bone tissue, an advantage that has been uncommon until the development of this restorative treatment.
Is the Dental Implant Procedure Painful?
We make every effort to keep you pain-free during your dental implant procedure. Using a local anesthetic, your dentist numbs the area in which your implants will be inserted. The anesthetic stays effective for the duration of your procedure, so you should not feel anything more than pressure as the tiny posts are inserted. It's common to experience soreness and tenderness after the procedure. You can manage this quite effectively using over-the-counter pain relievers.
How Long Will My Dental Implants Last?
In the months that follow your dental implant procedure, the titanium posts will get encased in bone tissue. This happens naturally due to the stimulation of bone regeneration. With full encapsulation in the jawbone, just like natural teeth roots, your dental implants can last indefinitely. The primary threat to these structures is your periodontal health. Whether or not you have natural teeth remaining after your dental implant procedure, it is important that you continue to care for your oral health through daily brushing and other habits recommended by your dentist. Keep in mind, too, that your dental implants can last forever but there may come a time when your crown, bridge, or dentures need to be replaced to address normal wear and tear.
Will I have to Change My Diet after Dental Implant Treatment?
You may need to make a few changes to your normal dietary habits after getting dental implants. Fortunately, they don't last long! One of the reasons dental implants are appealing is that they enable you to eat normally. It simply takes a little bit of time for this to happen. While your implants are in the early recovery stage, you may be advised to avoid sticky and chewy foods that require a lot of chewing, as well as foods that are acidic, spicy, or crunchy. For one to two weeks after your dental implant procedure, you may eat foods that are quite soft, like eggs, pasta, and very cooked vegetables. Soups and smoothies can provide you with nutrients that don't require you to chew much at all. The purpose of these limitations is to allow your gums to heal without disturbance and thus minimize post-treatment soreness and tenderness. After a week or two, you may gradually begin adding denser foods and more chewing into your days, as long as this is approved by your dentist.
Read what our patients are saying!
I had such a fear going to the dentist, but my fear has gone away since I’ve been seeing Dr. Bentz and Dr. Cooley. They are wonderful toward their patients. They give so much care and patience for any fears or problems you have with your teeth. I’m so thankful and happy coming to their office. The office staff is wonderful and always willing to help you.
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