What Are Dental Implants?
In the old days, if you lost a tooth or two, the only solution was to have a bridge or partial denture made for your mouth to replace the missing teeth. Likewise if for some reason you lost all of your teeth, your only option was to wear dentures.
These days, technological advancements in dental restorations have made it so that rather than having removable ‘appliances’ to replace missing teeth (by removable we mean that the appliance must be taken out for cleaning every night), missing teeth can be replaced with dental implants.
A dental implant is basically a titanium anchor that is surgically implanted into your gums. This implant will replace the natural tooth root. A prosthetic tooth is then cemented to the ‘anchor’, thereby negating the need for special removal and cleaning routines. With dental implants, you treat them as you would your natural teeth.
Who Can Have Dental Implants?
Some people are better candidates for implants than others. In order to be a good candidate, the following conditions must be met:
- Your overall health is good
- You have finished growing and all of your adult/permanent teeth have come in
- Your gum tissue is healthy and intact
- Your jawbone tissue is healthy and intact
Conversely, if you suffer from one or more of the following, you are not likely to be a good candidate:
- You are a child or adolescent who hasn’t finished growing yet and/or developed all of your adult/permanent teeth
- You suffer from generally poor health
- You have significant gum disease
- You have loss of jaw bone tissue (in some cases, bone grafts may be considered)
Are Dental Implants Expensive?
Dental implants can be quite costly, but the benefits over the long-term far outweigh the initial cost. Consider the following:
- Dental implants look natural and are often undetected as ‘false teeth’ whereas most dentures are fairly obviously false teeth
- You will not have to pay extra money for special containers or cleansers for dentures
- You will not feel embarrassed by loose dentures
- Eating will be much easier and feel more natural than with loose dentures that require denture paste to stay in place
- If an implant breaks or fails, it can be replaced. If an upper or lower denture breaks, the entire arch must be replaced which will end up costing more in the long run depending on the reason for the implants, some or all of the cost may be covered by your dental benefits provider. For example, if you were in an automobile accident and suffered an injury to your face that knocked out or otherwise damaged your teeth, some or all of the cost of the implants may be covered. Conversely, if you simply choose dental implants for cosmetic reasons, you will likely have to pay out of pocket.
How is Dental Implant Surgery Performed?
There are several phases to having dental implants placed in your mouth. These phases include surgical and non-surgical processes and procedures as follows:
1. During your initial consultation, your dental surgeon will perform a thorough exam of your teeth and gums to ensure that you will be a good candidate for the implants. X-rays may be taken to assist in this process.
2. If necessary, an appointment will be made to have bad teeth extracted, and your remaining teeth cleaned. At this time, a course of antibiotics may be prescribed.
3. During your first surgical appointment, your dental surgeon will make incisions in your gums to expose the jaw bone. Next, small holes will be drilled, and the implants will be placed into the holes. Once the implants have been placed, the gums will be stitched closed over the implants.
A rest period of 7 – 10 days will follow, during which you should be gentle to your mouth. Eat soft foods, avoid extremely hot or cold foods and drinks, and following any prescriptions including medications or special rinses your dental surgeon has provided.
4. Once the stitches have been removed, another rest period of approximately 5 months will be required. This rest period will allow your jaw bone to adapt and bond to your new implant(s).
5. During the second surgical appointment, your dental surgeon will make small cuts in your gums to expose the implants. Screws will be replaced with small caps or collars called abutments which will hold the actual prosthetic tooth in place permanently, and allow the gums to heal properly and with adequate spacing.
6. Once your dental surgeon confirms that the implants have grafted properly to the bone (usually in about four weeks), the actual prosthetic teeth will be attached to the implants.
Risks of Dental Implants
Just like any other surgical procedure, there are risks involved that include excess bleeding, infection, injury to nerves, and implant failure or rejection.
If a dental implant is rejected, it is possible to redo the procedure, however it’s important to note that most rejections are due to some other underlying condition and may not always be possible. Be sure to discuss these risks with your dental surgeon, Dr.Alireza Fallah, before making a decision about dental implants.
Maintenance of Dental Implants
As noted, dental implants are a much better option than dentures, because there is very little maintenance beyond regular good dental hygiene required. Proper brushing and flossing will help to keep both your natural teeth and your implants free of bacteria and decay.
And of course, regular dental checkups and cleanings will help your dentist recognize any problems that may occur.
Dental implants are a permanent way of surgically replacing missing or broken teeth. Unlike dentures, dental implants should last for years and years without requiring any special care other than continued good dental hygiene habits.
If you are seeking a permanent solution to your tooth loss, Cambie Marine Gateway Dental can help. We can provide you with beautiful dental implants that will look and feel as good if not better, than your natural teeth.