When you find out you’re losing your teeth, it can feel like the end of the world. In the past, that was almost true. Chewing, smiling and speaking after tooth loss was immensely challenging and could negatively impact lives. With the technology available to us today, however; you don’t have to suffer after losing one or more teeth. Dental implants are an ideal solution to missing teeth, permanently replacing any gaps in your smile without the hassle of dentures. How do implants work? Here’s your complete guide to dental implants.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are permanent replacements for natural teeth. Titanium posts in the jaw replace the root of the teeth and bond to the bone, creating a strong foundation for attaching natural-looking crowns to the posts. With dental implants, no one ever needs to know you lost any teeth, and you may even forget yourself from time to time! Implants help preserve the structure of the jaw, which often occurs after tooth loss.
Dental implants can replace single teeth, multiple teeth, or a full mouth of teeth as a dentures alternative. While dentures are a bit cheaper initially, they do eventually need to be replaced and require special care. Dentures also never quite feel like natural teeth in the that way implants do—patients only retain about 15-18% chewing power, even with dentures.
Are All Implants the Same?
While all dental implants have the same basic structure (post and crown or bridge), there are a few different materials that can be used, as well as different ways the implants can be put in. For single or multiple tooth loss, implants are anchored using individual posts. Multiple teeth (and full teeth) are replaced using realistic bridges, and can be secured without grinding down adjacent teeth.
While titanium posts are the most common material for dental implants, non-metal implants are now an option as well. Ceramic implants are a great alternative to titanium, with a natural look and feel.
The Dental Implant Procedure
The traditional implant procedure takes place in two parts. First, the hole in the bone is drilled and the screw is placed. A temporary crown is put into place while the post has time to bond to the bone in the jaw. In 4-6 months, the permanent crown will be secured into place, and patients can care for their teeth as normal.
Full teeth replacement can be done using individual implants or the new “Same-Day Implant” technique, an implant procedure that replaces the teeth in a single day with no two-part process needed. Only 4 posts per arch are needed to secure the full set of teeth. Patients can eat, smile, and laugh the same day after leaving the office! TeethXPress® is another same-day, full teeth replacement option, giving patients the opportunity to choose the technique that works best for them.
Bone Loss and Sedation Concerns
In the past, dental implants were often difficult for patients with bone loss. Grafting, an invasive and painful procedure, was often necessary to place the new teeth. Worse, some patients were unable to undergo the procedure at all. Today, however, advanced techniques like the Same-Day Implant and sinus/ridge augmentation makes dental implants a wonderful option for many more patients, allowing even those with bone loss to make beautiful teeth a reality.
As an invasive procedure, many patients are worried about the sedation and anesthesia that will be used during the procedure. Some dentists offer sedation dentistry to make the process easy and comfortable. The level of sedation used will depend on the patient and the procedure.
Caring for Dental Implants
Because implants are so similar to natural teeth, they’re extremely easy to care for after the initial recovery period. All patients usually need to do to keep implants in good shape is to maintain good brushing and flossing habits and visit their dentist regularly for professional cleaning.
Finding a Specialist
Finding the right dentist can be a challenge since you’ll want to make sure you choose an expert you can trust. Drs. Gallardo in Miami are implant specialists, with over 15 years of experience in helping patients regain their confidence and comfort with dental implants. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 305-447-1447 today. To learn more about Dr. John Paul Gallardo, please visit Watkin Dental.