DENTAL IMPLANTS – Frequently Asked Questions
Hey guys we’ve been getting a lot of questions lately here at Hidden Valley Smiles about implants. There is a pattern among the questions so we are gonna run through the most common implant questions we get. We are gonna try to answer these quickly for you to get you a little more familiar with questions that either you should have the answers to or you might want to ask your dentist.
Many people will lose their teeth for one reason or another, whether it be from trauma, fracture, decay, infection, etc… One way to replace a missing tooth, or several missing teeth, is with dental implants. Generally speaking, most people regardless of age, who are generally in good health, and have relatively healthy gum and bone tissue, can be considered candidates for dental implants. It is important to remember that after a tooth has been missing, the surrounding bone tends to resorb or shrink. Implants do require sufficient bone for support. Some patients may require bone augmentation procedures, or other procedures such as sinus lifts prior to implant placement.
What are dental implants? A dental implant is a fixture that replaces the tooth’s natural root and anchors the artificial tooth to the jaw bone. Most implants are made of a biocompatible titanium alloy and are shaped somewhat like a screw. It is surgically placed into the jawbone and a crown is later attached to the implant. Where can you get this procedure done? Many general dentists have the experience and training to place dental implants. Some dental specialists also perform dental implant surgeries, such as periodontists, oral surgeons, and prosthodontists.
How dental implants are placed? After careful examination of your mouth, xrays of the affected area, your dentist will discuss your options, and whether you are a good candidate for the procedure. Some dentists will want to see a more detailed x-ray called a Cone Beam Computerized Tomogram, or CBCT for short. This will help them with several surgical considerations, such as the position and size of implants, location of important anatomical structures, the distance between adjacent teeth, etc…. The implant placement surgery to replace a single tooth is typically fairly straightforward. A small incision is typically made in the gum, and a series of drills are used for the osteotomy, which is a technical word for “hole in the bone”. The titanium implant itself is then physically threaded into place, not unlike a screw. Some patients and their dentists may select to restore the implant immediately with a permanent or temporary crown. This is especially desirable for missing front teeth. However, many dentists will select to wait 4 to 6 months for the implant to osseointegrate with the bone.
Following successful surgery for single dental implants, most patients experience little to no pain or discomfort. However, if the surgery was more involved or difficult, or several implants were placed, or other procedures such as sinus lift or bone augmentation were performed, more inflammation and discomfort can be expected. After any surgery, there is a risk of infection and swelling. It is recommended that you talk to your dentist about the other possible risks you may have for your particular case. Osseointegration can be defined as a kind of fusion of the bone to the titanium implant, whereby new bone is laid down directly on the implant surface. This process significantly enhances mechanical stability and long-term success. Sometimes a secondary surgery is required to uncover the implant if the gum tissue has grown to overtop of the implant.
Finally, an impression or mold of the teeth and implant position is made, and a crown is fabricated by a dental laboratory, typically out of porcelain, zirconia, or porcelain fused to metal. This crown is then attached to the implant itself wither with a screw or cemented onto a screw-retained abutment. In the case of multiple missing teeth, an implant-supported bridge or denture may be fabricated and supported by two or more implants.
Caring for your implant Consistent daily dental hygiene at home is essential for the maintenance of your teeth, gums, and implants. Devices such as water picks and electric toothbrushes can help achieve optimal home care. Regular visits to your dentist for checkups and cleanings are also important. Unlike your natural teeth, dental implants cannot develop decay. They can however still fail. Examples of causes of implant failure are occlusal trauma, which means your bite forces on the implant are too heavy, or other types of trauma. Infection or inflammation of the bone and gums surrounding the implant can also lead to bone loss and the eventual failure of the implant. This is sometimes referred to as Peri-Implantitis.
What to Expect From Dental Implant Surgery – Read Here!
At Hidden Valley Smiles, we do offer dental implants as an option to replace single or several missing teeth. Visit our website or contact one of our dentists for consultation.