Dental implants are a great alternative for natural teeth replacement. Strong and stable, they can restore a lost tooth and can look, feel, fit and function like a natural tooth. This procedure has become a popular option in dental reconstruction, with over half a million implants placed every year in the U.S.
Advantages of Dental Implants
- Dental implants are built to last. They provide an ideal long-term and cost-effective option when in need of dental replacement.
- A secure, comfortable fit that looks and feels natural, without the slipping of normal dentures
- Implants protect your jawbones and help preserve your natural bone against further health issues
- Dental implants allow you to maintain the natural shape of your face and smile
- Unlike removable dentures, dental implants are placed in your mouth and do not need to be removed for maintenance
- No other adjacent teeth have to be ground down or disturbed to hold an implant in place
- You can talk and eat normally without the inconvenience
- You will no longer feel self-conscious about missing teeth
The Implant Process
Before placing your dental implant, the provider may administer antibiotics, I.V. sedation, or nitrous oxide to make sure you are as comfortable as possible. Typically, a local anesthetic is used around the area of placement to numb the area.
Once you are comfortable and ready, the provider will make a small incision over the gum tissue so they can access the bone, open up the area with dental tools, and then, the implant post will be inserted in the jawbone in place of the tooth's root. Placement typically takes between 30 minutes to an hour for one implant and a few hours for multiple implants.
Healing varies for each patient, but most patients experience slight pain after the procedure. Your provider can prescribe medication and give you at-home care instructions to alleviate any discomfort or pain. Your doctor will also provide you with follow-up care instructions and appointments to ensure your implant is healing properly. Typically, it can take anywhere between three to six months for an implant to heal. An abutment/healing cap will be placed on the implant during this time to help the gum tissue surrounding your implant heal effectively. This will also help prevent infection and damage.
Once your implant is healed, the provider will create a custom-made dental crown and attach it over your dental implant.
Contact Litchfield Family Dentistry at 217-324-3431 to learn more about our dental implant options.
Abutment and Placement
Most implants have three pieces: the implant that goes in your bone, the abutment (or connector) that holds the tooth, and the crown tooth that attaches to the abutment. The crown is shaped like a tooth and made to look like the others around it so that it is not obviously false. Abutments are made of different materials, most commonly titanium, but they can also be made of gold or zirconia. A special type of dental cement is used to keep the crown attached to the abutment. Well made dental implants have a very tight connection between the implant and the abutment. This is important for the long-term maintenance of your bone around the implant.
Implants vs. Bridges
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 your dentist. While dental implants may need periodic adjustments, they can last a lifetime when properly placed and cared for over time.
A bridge is a restoration for two or more missing teeth in a row. Common restorations like fixed bridges or removable partials can cause the surrounding bone to weaken because they are dependent on adjacent teeth for support. However, implant-supported bridges integrate with the natural bone, providing a much stronger and more natural restoration.
A dental crown is a restoration that replaces the top part of the tooth. A single tooth that needs to be completely replaced can be restored utilizing an implant-supported crown. The crown is typically made of porcelain, giving the restoration a natural look.
Other Things You Should Know
Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants? With the exception of growing children, dental implants are the solution of choice for people of all ages, even those with the following health concerns:
Existing Medical Conditions: If you can have routine dental treatment, you can generally have an implant placed. While precautions are advisable for certain conditions, patients with such chronic diseases as high blood pressure and diabetes are usually successful candidates for dental implant treatment. Dental implants also offer a solution to
Gum Disease or Problem Teeth: Research studies have concluded that implants do not lead to a high risk of gum disease or root canal issues. Also, because implants are made of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the human body, they provide a stimulus that keeps the jawbone from deteriorating.
Currently Wearing Partials or Dentures: Implants can replace removable bridges or dentures, or they can be used to stabilize and secure the denture, making it much more comfortable.
Smokers: Although smoking significantly lowers the success rate of implants, it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of getting them. Cessation of smoking is imperative if you are to have implants placed. You must quit smoking for good if you are to be a successful implant candidate.
Bone Loss: Bone loss is not uncommon for people who have lost teeth or had periodontal disease. If you have significant bone loss your provider will refer you to an Oral and maxillofacial surgeon or Periodontist, who has been trained and is experienced in grafting bone to safely and permanently secure the implant.
Generally, implant tooth replacement in children is usually deferred until their jaw growth is complete. There are, however, some instances when a dental implant may be appropriate, such as when it is part of the child’s orthodontic treatment plan. If this happens, your provider can guide you in this instance.
For more information on how dental implants can improve your smile call Litchfield Family Dentistry today at 217-324-3431 to schedule your dental implant consultation.