Everything You Need to Know About Dental Implants
More and more people are exploring their options with dental implants. Now, we understand that implants are the solution to the negative effects that missing teeth have on our overall dental and bodily health. Missing teeth or extractions no longer have to condemn patients to a life with outdated bridges and uncomfortable traditional dentures.
Whether missing teeth or extractions are a result of an accident, aging, decay, or gum disease; implants can help drastically improve your oral health and keep you smiling for years to come! After reading this article, you will understand why dental implants are so beneficial, the dental implant process, how long the process takes, how much dental implants cost, and why dental implants are the superior option to conventional bridges and dentures.
Whether your teeth were lost as a result of an accident, life style decisions, decay and disease, or age; missing teeth don’t have to be the burden that they once were. The advancement of dental implants has given countless patients access to happier and healthier lives. The dental implant’s seamless integration into the bone and the life-like crown restoration provide a solution to all of the problems missing teeth create. Implants save patients from the cascading negative effects that missing teeth can have on oral health, facial posture, and physical health.
Oral health: The body can’t tell the difference between the dental implant body and your natural tooth structure. When an implant is integrated into the bone, it provides the stimulation necessary to stop the body’s natural healing process that result in bone reabsorption. Missing teeth that aren’t replaced cause bone resorption and atrophy that can drastically reduce the width of the bone structure by 25%. This compromised bone structure leaves little to no support for the remaining teeth, and can lead to surrounding tooth failure. Patient’s that have missing teeth are forced to overuse and wear down the remaining teeth while eating. The worn down teeth are then subject to decay. Here are some of the major problems that missing teeth create and the solutions implants provide:
- Reduced bone structure by 25% which leads to a lack of support for remaining teeth.
- The implant body supports the bone structure and health of your jaw. The titanium or ceramic implants integrate so naturally, that the jaw bone doesn’t realize the natural tooth is missing, which effectively stops bone resorption and atrophy from occurring.
- Worn down compensating teeth subject to pain and decay
- With implants, patients are able to chew, confidently and evenly, on both sides of their mouths and create uniform wear.
- Super-eruption of non-supported teeth may result in extraction.
- The, originally, non-supported tooth is now supported by the crown of the implant, and saved from the threat of extraction.
Facial Posture: Fascial posture is a primary concern for patients that have lost teeth. Just one tooth can drastically change the way a person’s face looks. Once the jaw bone is reabsorbed, lips thin and flatten, joules create pouches, the chin starts to point out, and the lip line straightens, making the patient appear 10 or more years older.
- Without jaw stimulation from the tooth structure, the jaw atrophies and begins to dissolve, creating a sunken in facial appearance.
- Implants serve as the tooth structure and provide the stimulation needed to stop bone reabsorption from occurring.
Physical Health: Missing teeth can make it difficult to eat properly. Often, patients result to compromising a healthy diet to accommodate their chewing handicaps. Essentially, a poor diet can lead to poor overall health. Patient’s that have experienced tooth loss, have been linked to higher risks of heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease.
- Implants provide a solution by allowing the patient to eat more healthfully, and advance on a more health conscious journey for their
Dental Implant Process
Dental implants are surgical grade titanium or ceramic screw like bodies that are surgically implanted into the jaw to replace missing teeth. The implant body integrates into the bone structure via a process call osteointegration. Once the dental implant is fully integrated into the bone structure, an abutment is placed, then the implant is ready to receive a restorative crown. At this point, the patient would go to their general dentist or prosthodontist to attach the tooth crown to the implant abutment for the final step in the dental implant process.
Dental Implant Structure
The dental implant has three major parts:
- The implant screw
- The abutment
- The crown
The dental implant and abutment are placed by the oral surgeon. The crown is created and placed by the general dentist or prosthodontist.
There are two types of processes for dental implants: immediate implant placement or tooth extraction and implant. If the tooth is in the front of the mouth (anterior) and there is adequate bone, you might be a candidate for an immediate implant. If the area in question is missing its natural tooth, and there is enough bone to support the implant, then an immediate implant could be a possibility as well. Most likely, if the tooth has been missing for more than a year, a bone graft must be placed and healed before the patient is eligible for an implant. Below are detailed outlines for the immediate implant process and the extraction and implant process.
Immediate Implant: Immediate Implants are a sought after service for patients that have damaged anterior teeth. After the tooth is extracted, the dental implant is immediately placed into the tooth socket. Once the implant is in place, the abutment is attached, and the temporary prosthesis is loaded.
Immediate dental implant candidates must fit a certain criteria, specifically; there must be adequate bone quality in the surgical site.
- Immediate implant
- Loading of abutment and temporary prosthesis
- Heal for 3-6 months
- Seat permanent prosthetic
Extraction with bone graft Followed by dental implant placement
Patients, often, don’t have enough bone to support an implant immediately after extraction. In this case, the dental implant procedure is broken into three phases: the extraction and graft phase, the implant placement phases (I and II), and the restoration phase.
- Extraction of non-restorable tooth occurs
- If there isn’t enough bone to support the implant at the extraction site, a bone graft would be placed immediately after the extraction
- Bone graft heals, and patient is evaluated for implant placement 3-4 months after.
- Phase I: Dental Implant Surgery: Once there is enough bone to support the implant, the implant is surgically placed and the gum is stitched over the site to promote healing and integration.
- Healing time: 4-6 months
- Phase II: Ready to Restore: The patient takes a CT-Cone Beam X-ray to ensure that the implant has been fully integrated into the bone structure. At that point, the oral surgeon exposes the dental implant and places the abutment.
- Restoration: Patient has customized crown made and seated by general dentist or prosthodontist.
Dental Implant Cost
Speculation is the roadblock to a healthy new smile. Every patient has different needs and requires a unique treatment plan that must be created by a dental provider after a comprehensive oral examination. To get an accurate price that includes the cost of extractions, sedation, bone grafts, and x-rays, do yourself a favor and schedule a consultation. Your implant journey should be an exciting journey with you fully informed and committed. Researching random “ballpark” figures will only make you confused or have inaccurate assumptions about your care.
Dental implants are the way of the future for dental prosthetics. They improve the quality of life by allowing the freedom to chew and taste foods, kiss, talk, and smile without the worry of uncomfortable and unpredictable dentures.
That being said, it is important for patients to fully understand that dental implants are an investment. At first, dental implants might seem more expensive than traditional dentures and bridges, until you consider the maintenance cost. Traditional dentures and implants require replacement every 3-7 years, and can lead to health problems that can be costly.
When you embark on your dental implant journey, you should go forth with the understanding that implants are an investment that will drastically improve your health and happiness.
Implant V. Dentures and Bridges
Implants are greatly superior to traditional dentures and bridges! Not only do they feel and look better, they are better for your dental health.
- Implants stop bone reabsorption and atrophy vs. traditional dentures that contribute to reabsorption of the jaw bone
- Implants have an average success rate of 98% compared to traditional bridge failure at 35.5%
- Traditional dentures and bridges require replacement every 3-7 years v. implants that last (typically) for life.
- Implants maintain facial posture whereas dentures expedite facial collapse
- Dental implants help maintain overall oral health and the health of surrounding teeth v. traditional dentures and bridges that jeopardize and deteriorate the overall oral health and compromise supporting teeth.
It is never too late to make a commitment to a healthy smile! Dental implants are scientifically proven to stop the negative effects that missing teeth have on your overall dental and medical health, and can drastically improve your life. Take the next step, and schedule a consultation today because you’re worth it!
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