Dental Implants: The Complete Guide
If you have missing teeth, you can consider several alternatives for replacing them. These alternatives include a partial denture, a bridge and dental implants. But, how do you make the choice? If you’re interested in dental implants, it can be difficult to find all the information you need from one Google search. This guide will answer all your questions, leading you to a decision that’s right for you.
What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is the most natural and most comfortable way to replace your missing tooth or teeth. When you lose a tooth, you also lose the root that attached itself to the bone of your jaw. A dental implant replaces that root.
Manufacturers make implants out of titanium. It is a strong and lightweight metal. Also, the titanium will fuse to your jawbone. The fused implant helps prevent bone loss and maintains the jawbone’s shape and strength.
Once the implant is in place, you can’t see it, but it provides a post that your dentist can use to attach a crown. A crown is a replacement tooth that your dentist will make. The crown will cover the entire area where your natural tooth was.
Your dentist will decide what material to use for the crown, which could be stainless steel, porcelain fused to metal, or ceramic. The crown will mimic your original tooth’s shape, color and size. Once the dentist cements the crown to the implant, it will be difficult or impossible to tell that it wasn’t one of your original teeth.
When Should You Consider Implants?
Dental implants are valuable for people who have lost a tooth and the root that anchored it. You should consider implants for the following types of reasons:
- You want to prevent the teeth surrounding the lost tooth from moving. When you lose a tooth, the teeth around the hole will start to move to fill in the gap. That movement can make it more difficult to keep your teeth clean, and your teeth will get out of alignment.
- You want to save your jawbone. There are other ways to replace teeth, but dental implants are the only alternative that will preserve the bone in your jaw.
- You aren’t comfortable with your dentures. Dentures can be uncomfortable if they create sores in your mouth or if they limit the food that you can eat comfortably. Dental implants can permanently attach dentures, eliminating common problems.
- You don’t want a gap in your smile. You may not like how you look with missing teeth. Besides that, you may start to develop a sunken-in look that isn’t attractive. Dental implants will keep your jawbone strong, and your face won’t change its shape.
What Are the Advantages and Risks of Dental Implants?
Dental implants provide a number of benefits:
- You’ll look better and be more confident
- Poorly fitting dentures or gaps in your teeth can affect your speech. Implants can correct that.
- Eating will be easier
- Your oral health will improve due to easier cleaning
- Dental implants are very strong and, for some people, they last a lifetime
The dental implant procedure is typically problem-free, and most people don’t have complications afterward.
However, there are some risks:
- Infections sometimes occur
- Injury can occur to other teeth or blood vessels
- Damage to nerves can occur and cause pain
- Sinus problems can result if an upper implant pierces your sinus cavities
While these are some of the risks. There rarely are problems.
Who Should Get a Dental Implant?
Dental implant surgery is safe for anyone who is in good health. But, if you have or have had the following conditions, you’ll need to ask your dentist if you qualify:
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Radiation to the mouth and jaw area
- Heavy smoking
- Serious gum disease
You need to have adequate bone support for an implant.
If your jawbone has deteriorated to some extent, you may still be eligible for implants after a bone graft. The graft will strengthen the bone enough to hold implants.
How Does Your Dentist Install Dental Implants?
Some advertisements state that you can get dental implants in one appointment. The other alternative is to do the surgery in stages, which can extend over several months.
There rarely is pain after an implant procedure. In almost 100% of the cases you can be back to your normal activities the following day. If you do have concerns or questions, it is important that you ask your dentist.
The dental implant surgery is an outpatient procedure that usually takes place in the dentist’s office. The process includes:
- Removing the damaged tooth and doing a bone graft (adding bone). A bone graft is not always necessary. If a graft is done, it is often done at the same time the tooth is removed.
- Installing the implant after your jawbone heals from the extraction
- Making molds or measurements of your teeth to prepare the crown to fit on top of your implant.
What Should You Expect After the Surgery?
Everyone will respond to the surgery differently, so you need to talk to your doctor about what you should do after the surgery. In many cases, your doctor will recommend:
- Keeping your mouth clean. You can brush your teeth, but be careful around the surgery site.
- Gentle saltwater rinses. Mix one tablespoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water for the rinse. It will help with healing.
- No strenuous exercise. You don’t want to cause bleeding by bending, lifting or doing aerobic exercise right after the surgery.
- Ice packs for swelling. It’s normal to have some swelling after the surgery. Apply an ice pack several times a day for 20 minutes at a time.
- Take medication for pain. You will probably experience some pain for a few days after the surgery. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication. Some people can control the pain using over-the-counter medications.
Does Insurance Cover Dental Implants?
Everyone’s insurance is different. Be sure to discuss insurance coverage with your insurance provider and your dentist.
Many insurance companies would rather cover preventative procedures than a procedure that restores your teeth, like an implant.
Depending upon your insurance company, they may cover all or a part of your implant procedure. In most cases an insurance companies only covers a portion of an implant procedure.
For example, your insurance company may cover the tooth extraction and not the bone graft, implant and crown. Or maybe your insurance company will cover the extraction, implant and crown. But only cover it after a certain waiting period of time.
The benefits that your insurance company pays are based upon the premiums that you pay.
How Should I Care for Dental Implants?
You can care for a dental implant the same way you do your natural teeth. Naturally, you want to keep your teeth and gums clean with regular brushing. Visit your dentist regularly for advanced dental cleanings and to confirm that your implants are in good condition.
Try not to damage your teeth or implants by chewing hard things such as ice or hard candy. It is possible to crack a crown by biting down too forcefully on a hard substance. Also, avoid staining your teeth with cigarettes and caffeinated drinks.
Dental implants are an excellent alternative for replacing missing or damaged teeth. The sooner you decide to get a dental implant, the easier the process will be. Don’t wait until the bone in your jaw has deteriorated – make a decision about treating missing teeth as soon as you can.
At Hylan Dental Care we have a saying…
“We Cater to Cowards”
So … Get Your Smile Back Today.