What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants replace missing teeth or teeth that are decaying, have cracks and cannot be restored. With an implant crown, dental implants create a stronger replacement tooth because both the tooth and the tooth’s root are replaced. Dental implants can last a lifetime and are more durable than other tooth replacement options. This is a great option for one or several missing teeth and they can be placed in the upper or lower jaws to strengthen your smile.
Who Is A Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
Most adults who are interested in a long-term solution for tooth loss are good candidates for dental implants. Dentists consider aspects of oral health as well as general health when discussing tooth-replacement options to ensure a satisfactory outcome can be reached. An ideal candidate for dental implants will have good oral health. Primarily, there needs to be adequate bone structure for implant posts to integrate properly. Without proper integration, the implants do not become encased in bone as needed and cannot be as stable as intended.
Healthy gums also contribute to implant stability. If either aspect of oral health has declined, we may discuss treatments to fortify bone structure and/or eliminate inflammation and infection before implanting the titanium posts that hold new teeth. Also, we may take extra precautions to protect implants if a patient grinds or clenches their teeth. General health is also an important factor in dental implant treatment because systemic conditions can inhibit the bone growth and soft tissue healing needed after implant insertion. Dental implant treatment may not be performed on a patient who is a heavy smoker because the chemicals in cigarettes inhibit proper healing.
Patients who have undergone high-dose radiation of the head or neck area may lack the structure to stabilize implants. Conditions affecting the immune system or healing functions, such as uncontrolled diabetes, may exclude a person from being a good candidate for dental implants. Finally, women who are pregnant are advised to postpone dental implant treatment until after delivery.
What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
Compared to all other options for tooth replacement, dental implants most closely resemble natural oral structure. This may be the primary benefit of treatment because it is this aspect that leads to all other benefits, including:
- Near-perfect chewing and speaking. Patients with dental implants describe their new teeth as feeling just like their natural teeth.
- Natural appearance. The restorations held by dental implants are fabricated to look just like natural teeth, with a color and proportions that fit your smile and facial anatomy.
- Bone preservation. Stimulation from chewing significantly slows or halts the deterioration of natural bone by encouraging regeneration of bone cells.
- Dental implants may last a lifetime if taken proper care of.
Why Should I Replace A Missing Tooth With An Implant?
Dental implants are unique in that the titanium posts act as artificial roots beneath artificial teeth. It is this aspect of dental implants that causes many people to strongly consider this method of care. You also may want to replace a missing tooth or teeth with an implant because your smile will look and feel like it used to.
Implants differ from dentures and bridges in their foundation. A bridge or denture will sit on the gums. Implants are installed so that they sit in the jawbone, just like natural roots would. This not only makes implants the most stable form of tooth replacement, but also the most lifelike.
Structure is important to long-term oral health, speaking and chewing, and also to facial contouring. The lifelike foundation of dental implants carries on the function of natural roots, transferring the force of chewing as tiny vibration to the jawbone. This vibration stimulates the regeneration of bone cells in the jaw, thereby preserving its structure. A healthy, dense, high jawbone holds the lips and cheeks in position. Without this, the face sinks inward.
Dental Implants Procedure
Dental implant treatment is carried out in precise steps, beginning with a comprehensive consultation and examination. This initial visit involves a thorough evaluation of the mouth, including appropriate imaging to ensure adequate bone and gum health. We then discuss the various aspects of dental implant treatment, recovery, and maintenance so you can make a confident and informed decision about your dental care. When you have decided that you wish to commence with implant treatment, we schedule your procedure.
Step 1 – Implant placement is performed with local anesthesia that numbs the entire treatment area. A small nick is made in the gums to access underlying bone. Then, a small space is created using a dental drill. The titanium implant post is inserted into the space, where bone tissue will grow around it. Gum tissue is stitched closed over the implant to allow undisrupted healing.
Step 2 – After implant placement, bone growth continues for several months. This is referred to as osseointegration. While the implant is becoming stable, you will be able to wear a denture or bridge to preserve natural oral functions.
Step 3 – Approximately four to six months after the implant is placed, a second procedure is performed to situate an abutment at the uppermost end of the implant post. This procedure is performed with local anesthetic and a small nick in the gums. The connector piece is attached to the implant and the gums are stitched around it, not over it. Gums heal around the implant abutment in about six weeks.
Step 4 –The final aspect of dental implant treatment is the placement of the final crown, bridge, or denture. As soon as the appropriate restoration has been affixed onto the implant abutment, you are free to resume normal activities. Once you completely heal after the implant surgery, Dr. Hiebert and Dr. Smith will place the porcelain crown after attaching an abutment to the implant. This abutment holds the crown in place.
What Are Dental Implants Alternatives?
There is no tooth replacement alternative that compares to dental implants. However, when preferred or necessary, patients may choose to replace one or a few missing teeth with a dental bridge that is attached to natural teeth. Dentures may be selected for full-arch replacement. We take care to create bridges and dentures that fit as well as possible to restore optimal function and confidence for our patients.
How Do I Care for My Dental Implants?
Dental implants do not decay or corrode. However, it is crucial that patients who have implants take good care of remaining natural teeth and of their gums. The predominant risk to dental implants is infection and inflammation in the gums, which can spread to the bone if not properly treated. To care for your dental implants, brush your teeth twice a day using a non-abrasive toothpaste. Floss as directed by your dentist to inhibit plaque formation and soft tissue inflammation. Maintain dental checkups and cleanings as recommended so your dental team can catch any indication of dental disease as early as possible.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
Dental implant treatment achieves results that could last indefinitely. After several years, it may be necessary to replace fixtures like crowns or dentures that sit on dental implants. However, with good oral care, the titanium posts may never need to be replaced.
Schedule A Consultation
If you would like to learn more about dental implants as a replacement for your missing teeth, please contact Hiebert Smith Dental Group. Call (503) 397-6144 to schedule a consultation at our dental office in St. Helens, OR.