Dental implants are a restorative dentistry procedure designed to replace a missing tooth—or several missing teeth—with a restoration that looks and feels like your natural teeth. A missing tooth can be much more than an aesthetic inconvenience. When left unattended, the gaps resulting from missing teeth can lead to more complicated dental issues, such as:
- Irritation of the gums
- Shifts in the position of adjacent teeth
- Occlusion (bite) problems
- Changes in facial structure
- Weakening of the jawbone
- Additional tooth loss
Patients with missing teeth often experience difficulty eating certain foods or speaking with clarity. With dental implants, you can once again speak and chew with ease and confidence. In addition, your smile can be restored with natural-looking results.
To learn if you are a good candidate for dental implants, please contact our office today and discover how our experienced dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Schultz, can use this innovate tooth restoration to dramatically improve the health, function, and beauty of your smile.
What is a dental implant?
Comprised of a small titanium post and a porcelain crown or bridge that is customized to fit seamlessly with your smile, dental implants can become a permanent part of your mouth. The key to the excellent stability of a dental implant is the titanium post that anchors the artificial tooth. Designed to serve as the new tooth’s root, this post is surgically implanted into the jawbone in the area of the missing tooth, and it eventually fuses to the bone to provide a solid foundation. Afterward, a porcelain crown or dental bridge is affixed to the post to complete the restoration. Unlike many other traditional solutions for missing teeth, each dental implant behaves just like a natural tooth and can restore all lost function caused by missing teeth.
What are the benefits of dental implants?
Dental implants are often considered the best form of tooth replacement compared to more traditional methods. The benefits of dental implants can include:
- No slippage
- No adhesives or pastes
- Improved ability to chew and speak
- Natural looking aesthetic
- Long-lasting results
- Increased comfort compared to traditional dentures and other removable restorations
In addition, since each dental implant can act exactly like natural teeth, there is no extra maintenance (beyond regular brushing and flossing) required to keep your dental implants clean. When properly cared for with good daily oral hygiene, routinely scheduled professional cleanings, and twice-yearly oral exams, dental implants have been known to last up to 40 years, if not longer.
Am I a candidate for dental implants?
Since the key to successful results with dental implants is the small titanium post inserted into the jawbone, patients who have sufficient jawbone density make ideal candidates. For individuals with insufficient jawbone density, bone grafting can sometimes be performed before the dental implant procedure to improve the probability of success. During the consultation process, Dr. Schultz will perform a comprehensive oral exam, review your medical history, listen carefully to your individual goals, and help determine if you are a good candidate for dental implant surgery. If you would like to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Schultz, please contact us today.
What Are My Dental Implant Options?
Offering a steadfast, reliable, and aesthetically pleasing way to restore missing or damaged teeth, dental implants are capable of replacing a single tooth, multiple teeth, or an entire upper and/or lower arch. Given their versatility, some patients achieve rehabilitation of their entire smile with dental implants.
Single Tooth Implants
A dental implant can be an excellent solution to renew individual missing, damaged, or severely decayed teeth. They are custom-crafted to mimic the size, proportions, and shade of your adjacent teeth for a seamless and indistinguishable replacement. In the event that a single implant is taking the place of a decayed tooth that requires extraction, both the extraction and dental implantation procedure can usually be performed in the same appointment— as long as there are no infections in the root of the compromised tooth. Once placed, individual implants are often capped with a strong, natural-looking porcelain crown. They are meant to feel like a natural part of your mouth and are typically considered the most enduring way to recover a weakened or missing tooth.
Multiple Teeth Implants
Many patients who seek to replace three or more consecutive teeth can use dental implants to restore the full integrity of their smile appearance and biting function. This is achieved by using two or more implants to affix a state-of-the-art prosthesis into the gumline. The prosthesis is custom-fabricated to span the entire length of the absent space left by compromised teeth and meticulously designed to blend in harmoniously with your smile. As dental implants are meant to stay rooted in a similar fashion as a natural tooth root, they can provide a greater degree of stability as well as a healthier bone structure when compared to a dental bridge attached by crowns.
Implant dentures can offer a number of advantages over unsecured dentures for individuals who have retained enough bone density to support implant placement and seek full mouth restoration, or replacement of an entire dental arch. Depending on your unique bone structure, anchored dentures can be affixed to the mouth using as little as four implants. This special All-On-4® technique involves insertion of the implants at strategic angles, the methodical placement allowing complete security with fewer implants than is typically required to hold a complete denture. In any case, implant dentures are designed to last a lifetime without the need for retreatment and often address many of the inconveniences sometimes presented by traditional dentures, such as an uncomfortable fit, gum irritation, and insecurity when speaking and chewing.
How Do I Care For My Dental Implants?
Similar to your natural teeth, dental implants typically require no additional maintenance besides daily brushing and flossing. Using a toothbrush with flexible bristles can often clean hard-to-reach areas around your implant and help keep them in optimal condition. If a porcelain crown was used to top your implant, caution when chewing hard foods can also prevent unnecessary cracks or fractures in the restoration.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
As long as a patient maintains good oral hygiene habits with routine dental check-ups and cleanings, implants often provide enhanced security and aesthetic beauty for a lifetime. While the chances of implant failure in a healthy patient with adequate bone structure are rare, the longevity of a dental implant can be prolonged further by avoiding tobacco products.
What can I expect during dental implant surgery?
The dental implant procedure is typically completed in two stages. During the first stage, the small titanium post that will serve as the new tooth’s root will be implanted into the jawbone. Over the course of the next three to six months, this post will remain below the gum line, allowing your mouth to heal and your jawbone to fuse with the implant. Most of our patients choose to wear a temporary denture during this stage while their custom-made crowns or bridges are crafted.
During the second stage, you will return to our office where Dr. Schultz can then attach a small abutment to the titanium post, allowing the crown or bridge to be securely fastened to the titanium post. These permanent teeth can be refined to match the color of your existing teeth for a seamless smile that looks completely natural. For most patients, the entire dental implant process can be completed in six to eight months. Our patients typically report that dental implants significantly improve their overall quality of life and are well worth the investment.
Dental implant technology continues to improve and advance, and for some patients, Dr. Schultz is now able to use single-stage implants. Though these dental implants do not necessitate a second office visit to uncover the implant, there may be a six week recovery period before your new prosthetic tooth or teeth can be placed. In addition, advances in technology have made it possible to extract a tooth, place an implant, and secure a restoration during the same office visit in select instances, greatly simplifying the surgical process. This procedure is known as “immediate loading.”
To learn more about replacing missing teeth with dental implants, or to schedule a consultation, please contact our practice today.