Is it time to get a dental implant?

dental implantHas your dentist talked to you about getting a dental implant? If so, you are one of the 5 million people that undergo dental implant surgery each year.

With a 98% success rate across the US, almost every patient says that this procedure is well worth it. Dental implants are generally included as an area of cosmetic dentistry, so this procedure will surely provide an aesthetic boost to your smile.

Beyond simple cosmetics though, dental implants could drastically improve your oral health and solve long-term dental issues.

Is a dental implant right for me?
Not anyone can have dental implant surgery. This procedure is typically reserved for patients who are missing teeth and need a permanent replacement. Tooth loss can be caused by a number of factors.

Congenital absence: For about 5% of the adult population, a slight genetic hiccup may have resulted in a missing adult tooth. While the baby tooth may remain in place for years, it will eventually lose gum support – leading to discomfort while eating and an enormous gap in your smile when lost.

Dental Trauma: It is not uncommon for athletic injuries or other accidents to result in a missing or broken tooth. Unless you plan on living through the discomfort of a fractured tooth, then a dental implant is likely to solve your problems.

Periodontal disease: From gingivitis to chronic periodontitis, dental disease may result in tooth loss. Severe dental caries (cavities) can also advance to the point of no return – the tooth will have to be extracted and replaced with an implant.

How the procedure works
Dental implant surgery is easily broken down into 3 parts. The entire process will usually take around 6 months. This time frame is subject to change depending on how long it takes for your jaw to develop around the implant.

  1. Setting the implant
    In this phase, the dentist will surgically embed the implant into your jawbone. With the help of local anesthetics, your dentist will make a tiny incision in your gum so that a small hole can be drilled into the jawbone, where the implant will then be placed. While this may sound painful, most patients report only minor discomfort, which can be treated with low dose medication.For the next several months, you will still have a gap in this location, but your dentist will provide a temporary veneer or replacement until the implant is fully healed.
  2. Healing and osseointegration
    Your dental implant needs to last a lifetime, that’s why it is necessary to take time for your gum to heal. For about 4-6 months, you and your dentist will wait until your jawbone has completely fused with the new implant – this process is called osseointegration.In the same way that roots hold your natural teeth in place, osseointegration will ensure that your artificial tooth will be totally secure. Once the gum and bone have fully bonded to the implant, then you can jump into the final step of dental implant surgery.
  3. Placing the prosthesis
    After months of waiting, your dentist will know when the implant has grown strong enough to actually support a fake tooth (or prosthesis). At this point, your dentist will work with you to create a fitted artificial tooth.

Many factors are taken into consideration when designing your custom prosthesis. A mold of your mouth will determine the exact size and length of the tooth, while an experienced designer will find an exact color match for your smile. When the custom tooth is finally designed, it can be fitted into your implant in a simple routine visit to your dentist.

Enjoying your new smile
After dental implant surgery, your new prosthesis looks and feels like a normal tooth. In fact, you don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary to care for your new tooth. You can brush, floss, and eat just like you could regularly.

Friends and family will certainly notice a huge improvement in your smile and you will feel happier with a complete set of teeth. The long-term benefits of a dental implant are many – you too can experience the benefits of cosmetic dentistry with a simple talk with your dentist.

Other types of dental implants
In our discussion above, we are mainly focusing on single tooth replacement. In reality, there are dozens of implants that could be a better fit.

For example, some patients may be missing several consecutive teeth in a row. Your dentist can place a fixed bridge implant in order to fill the gap between several missing teeth. The process is almost identical to the one described above, except 2 or 3 implants will be placed into the jaw instead of one. The healing and osseointegration process may take longer, but it will lead to the same satisfactory results.

At a certain age, it becomes more and more difficult to care for your teeth. Some adults may even experience major tooth loss. In these cases, a dentist will likely recommend a full set of dentures. This procedure is more intensive than an ordinary dental implant, but dentures are fully removable to allow for easy cleaning and comfort.

Tooth replacement and repair is a huge part of cosmetic dentistry. A dentist’s job is simply to restore your smile to its original brilliance. Talk to your dentist today to see if a dental implant is right for you.