Dental implants are metal inserts that provide stability for replacement teeth. Dental implants may be needed for teeth that have extensive damage or decay and need to be extracted or for teeth that have fallen out on their own.
Dental implants are one of several options for replacing damaged or missing teeth. However, unlike prostheses like dental bridges and full or partial dentures, dental implants are the best options as they can slow bone and tooth decay, protect the facial bone structure, and ensure remaining natural teeth stay healthy. Dental implants are a more permanent solution than other procedures and seldom need modifications or repair.
Dental implants have three primary components—the implants themselves, which are small titanium posts that are embedded into the jawbone, the abutment that sits on top of the implant and the crown, manufactured tooth, or implant-supported dentures that are attached to the posts. Because they are inserted into the jaw and below the gum line, implants work like new tooth roots and help support the jaw and the new tooth attachment. They also provide a secure foundation for the replacement prosthesis, which look and function just like natural teeth.
When a tooth comes loose or needs to be removed, the space created affects the health, stability, and durability of your jaws and remaining teeth. Without something in the vacant space, there is no jaw stimulation to keep the jaw correctly spaced and in place. This may cause shifts in the adjacent teeth, reddened gums, decay of cartilage or bone, and faster tooth decay.
Dental implants are a multi-stage procedure.
1) Initial consultation and patient evaluation.
Before determining if you are a good candidate for dental implants, X-rays are taken to evaluate the health, strength, and density of your jaw bone. (You’ll need to have enough bone density to support the implant.) Your doctor will also ask you some general questions about your health habits. It is also at this appointment that models will be made of your teeth and mouth for the creation of your custom prostheses (implant-supported dentures or bridges).
Every procedure is different for every patient and shaped by factors like how many teeth need to be replaced, their location in the mouth, and the condition of the surrounding tissue, bone, and teeth. If you have had gaps in your teeth for a long time, your jaw may not be stable enough to handle implants immediately and you may need a bone graft to help ensure the jaw is stable. You may also need preliminary procedures like tooth extractions, root canals, or gum grafts to make sure your implants deliver the best results.
2) Implant placement.
This is the first of two surgical procedures. Incisions are made in the gums into which the small titanium posts are inserted. The gums will then be sewed closed around the area of insertion and allowed to heal for three and six months. This time also allows your jaw and implants to undergo a process called osseointegration, during which the implants fuse to the jaw bone. Implant placement can be performed under general or local anesthesia, depending on your doctor’s determination.
3) Abutment placement.
Once the implant has fused the jaw bone, an abutment will be placed over the implant. An abutment is a metal piece that covers the implant and provides a place to connect the artificial teeth (or crowns). During abutment placement, your doctor will uncover the implants and attach the abutment. The gums will then be sewed up around the abutment but not over it, leaving it uncovered and ready for your crowns. If you have to wait for your crowns to come in, your doctor may place a temporary crown over the abutment to protect it.
4) Artificial teeth (crowns) placement.
Once your gums and jaw have healed from the implant and abutment placements, you are ready for your prosthesis, whether that is a bridge, dentures, or a crown.
Appropriate care and oral hygiene are critical directly following a dental implant procedure to ensure your gums heal correctly and avoid infection. Rinsing regularly with saltwater or a sterile solution, using over-the-counter pain medicine and anti-inflammatories as directed, and staying away from chewy or crunchy foods can all help you heal as quickly as possible.
Once your mouth has healed from the procedure, you’ll care for your dental implants just like you would natural teeth, including regular brushing and flossing to reduce the risk of gum disease. In addition to helping you maintain good long-term dental health, routine dental exams and cleanings also give your dentist a chance to make sure the bone and gum tissue around the implants remain strong and healthy.
Most people who are in good health with adequate jaw bone density can be considered for dental implants. However, you may not be a good candidate for dental implants if you:
If you are a smoker or use any form of tobacco products, you will need to quit before the dental implant procedure. Tobacco and nicotine use slows the healing process and enhances the risk of infection or other complications after the surgery.
When considering the cost of dental implants, it is critical to remind yourself that they are an investment in your overall health. The costs for dental implants may be higher than other restorative dental procedures such as dentures and bridges, but the maintenance, adjustment, and replacement price tags for these less-permanent solutions could end up being more in the long run.
Also, many dental insurance plans cover all or part of the cost of dental implants. Even if dental implants are not included in your insurance plans, dental offices like Castle Dental often offer flexible financing and payment plan options to help you afford them. Castle Dental also offers its own insurance, the OneSmile Dental Plan.
You deserve a dazzling and vibrant smile and Castle Dental is committed to helping you achieve it with a full complement of affordable dental services. Our various retail locations offer comprehensive dental care, including dental implants, so we can care for every member of your family at every stage of life.
Don’t live another day without the smile you were meant to have. Schedule an appointment today at a Castle Dental location near you and find out if you’re a good candidate for dental implants.