There’s a new buzz word in dentistry. We get asked about them often and we see billboards and mailers advertising them all over DFW. It’s a hot topic right now in the industry but surprisingly despite all the attention it’s getting, many patients still don’t have a clear understanding of what they are and what they do. So in today’s riveting blog, we’re gonna demystify... *drumroll please*...IMPLANTS!
What ARE dental implants?
I describe dental implants to my patients as medical grade screws that are surgically placed into the bone under your gums that are used to replace missing teeth or to support a bridge. Over the span of about 12 weeks, we allow the bone to fill in in the areas around the threads of the screw. Once that’s complete, we then begin the process of placing an actual crown (aka tooth) on top of the implant. So for about 3 months, there will be an empty space in the gums. For people that are self conscious of this, there are options to get a temporary appliance to fill the area where the implant was placed.
“Dental implants are the next best thing to your healthy, natural teeth. Strong and stable, a dental implant restores a lost tooth so that it looks, feels, fits and functions like a natural tooth when implanted by an experienced implant dentist. Other options such as dentures or bridges can lead to bone deterioration, and may interfere with eating, smiling, speaking and other activities of everyday life.”
Am I good candidate for dental implants?
Most likely, yes. Some contraindications include smoking, poorly controlled diabetes and periodontal disease. But the success rate in those situations is still fairly high.
“Dental implants are built to last. That makes them your best long-term, cost-effective solution. Traditional, tooth-supported dental bridges only last five to seven years, and with proper care often more than 10 years, but at some point they may need to be replaced. Those costs can really add up over time. While dental implants may need periodic adjustments, they can last a lifetime when properly placed and cared for over time by your dentist.”
What do dental implants DO?
Replacing a Single Tooth: If you are missing a single tooth, one implant and a crown can replace it.
Replacing Several Teeth: If you are missing several teeth, implant-supported bridges can replace them.
Replacing All of Your Teeth: If you are missing all of your teeth, an implant-supported full bridge or full denture can replace them.
Sinus Augmentation: A key to implant success is the quantity and quality of the bone where the implant is to be placed. The upper back jaw has traditionally been one of the most difficult areas to successfully place dental implants due to insufficient bone quantity and quality and the close proximity to the sinus. Sinus augmentation can help correct this problem by raising the sinus floor and developing bone for the placement of dental implants.
Ridge Modification: Deformities in the upper or lower jaw can leave you with inadequate bone in which to place dental implants. To correct the problem, the gum is lifted away from the ridge to expose the bony defect. The defect is then filled with bone or bone substitute to build up the ridge. Ridge modification has been shown to greatly improve appearance and increase your chances for successful implants that can last for years to come.
“Look Mom, no cavities with dental implants! Cavities can’t occur in an implant-restored crown, or replacement tooth; however, you will need to visit your dentist as scheduled and clean and care for it and your gums and mouth every day, the same as you would if it were a natural tooth.”
What’s the procedure like?
The procedure is typically a team effort, especially if the implant is being placed by a specialist. In this case, as it is in our office, my periodontist and I will consult with you to determine where and how your implant should be placed. Depending on your specific condition and the type of implant chosen, a treatment plan will be created to to meet your needs. It’s important to note that an implant is *just* what goes into the bone under the gums. After it has integrated an impression is taken to fabricate the crown that goes on top of it (aka the tooth portion). In some instances, a bone graft is indicated to build up adequate bone or to surround the implant when it’s place to aid in integration. Also, if the implant is being placed in approximation to the sinus, a sinus lift may be performed to create more space.
“Dental implants protect your healthy bone. Leaving empty spaces in your mouth after losing one or more teeth can lead to additional health issues, such as the loss and deterioration of some of your jawbone. When it is not being used to support a natural tooth, the jawbone deteriorates, losing its strength and firmness. Dental implants are the only dental restoration option that preserves and stimulates natural bone, actually helping to stimulate bone growth and prevent bone loss.”
What can I expect afterward?
As you know, your own teeth require conscientious at-home oral care and regular dental visits. Dental implants are like your own teeth and will require the same care. In order to keep your implant clean and plaque-free, brushing and flossing still apply!
After treatment, your periodontist will work closely with you and your dentist to develop the best care plan for you. Periodic follow-up visits will be scheduled to monitor your implant, teeth and gums to make sure they are healthy.
“Dental implants are more predictable than other repair and restoration methods. Dental implant treatment by proven implant dentists has a track record of reliable, long-term successful outcomes and is often considered “more predictable” than other treatments to repair or replace missing teeth, including bridgework, removable appliances and retreatment of failing root canal (endodontic) therapy."
We recently teamed up with a Board Certified Periodontist and Implant Specialist at brush. By partnering with Dr. Cameron Hamidi we can now offer our patients the highest quality of care for their dental implant needs. Connect with us to learn more!
Sara Mahmood, DDS MSHM
Dentist and Owner @ brush.