Many patients with broken or missing teeth have considered dental implants as an option to help them restore confidence in their smile, while at the same time providing more permanence and stability than other alternatives. If you are in that situation, perhaps you've wondered: "Are dental implants safe? What is involved in the process of placing an implant? And what benefits do dental implants bring?"
Let's consider the answers to those questions; but first of all we need to know: what exactly is a dental implant?
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental root implant is like an artificial tooth root, shaped like a screw. After it is set into your jawbone, the implant bonds with your natural bone, thereby providing a stable foundation for supporting an artificial tooth, known as a crown.
This combination of the root implant and the crown is known as a dental implant. It is estimated that over 3 million Americans have dental implants, and that number is growing every year.
Are Dental Implants Safe?
Generally speaking, placing dental implants is a low-risk surgical procedure. Any patient healthy enough to have a tooth pulled, or undergo other forms of oral surgery, can be eligible for dental implants. Most patients who have received dental implants report that there is very little pain or discomfort resulting from the surgery; in fact, most patients say that the placement of an implant is less painful than undergoing a tooth extraction!
What is involved in the process of dental implants, from start to finish? The first step is for you and your dentist to tailor an individualized treatment plan that meets your specific needs. Once it has been confirmed that a dental implant is the best option, your dentist will carefully locate the targeted point of placement in your jaw for the implant.
Many dental offices use traditional X-rays to gather this information; at Dr. William Linger's office, Dr. Linger uses 3D Cone Beam CT imaging and the newest and most advanced combined with implant placement system available, the X-Guide.
Once the precise location in the jaw has been targeted, the actual surgery begins. The root implant, which is a small titanium post, is inserted into the bone socket of the missing tooth. Although this does involve some surgical cutting, dental implant microsurgery, such as that performed at Dr. Linger's office, greatly reduces the size and severity of incisions.
Over time, as the jawbone heals from the surgery, it will gradually grow around the root implant, thereby anchoring it to the jaw, like a socket anchoring a pedestal to the ground. This process is known as osseointegration.
Typically the entire healing process takes 12 weeks or less. In some cases, the dentist may want to place the artificial crown on the root implant in a separate visit, after osseointegration has been fully accomplished. In other situations, the dentist may decide to implant the artificial root and tooth on the same day.
What are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
There are several benefits that come from dental implants, including the following:
- Permanence. Unlike dentures, which are removable plates or frames that hold artificial teeth, dental implants provide a permanent restoration of the patient's smile. And compared to dental bridges, which may only last 7 years, implants generally last a lifetime. Even if they need occasional adjustment due to changes in your mouth over time, they offer a long-term, cost-effective solution.
- Protection. When you lose a tooth, a vacant space is left in your mouth. Over time, this vacant space causes your jawbone to deteriorate more rapidly. However, with a dental implant that vacant space is filled, thus protecting your jawbone while simultaneously restoring your smile!
- Dietary freedom. When it comes to any type of oral surgery or restorative dental procedure, one of patients' top priorities across the board is the freedom to eat what they want to eat, whether it's apples, hard candy, or anything else. Whereas dentures come with food restrictions to prevent damage to their structure, dental implants function the same as real teeth would. Because implants are firmly rooted to your jawbone, you are able to chew and eat just about anything.
- Stability. One of the number one complaints with dentures is that they tend to shift or move when the patient laughs, coughs, eats, smiles, etc. Dental implants don't have that issue; because they are firmly bonded to your jaw through osseointegration, they should not shift or move around no matter what activities you engage in.
- Ease of access. Dentures and bridges are often inconvenient or difficult to clean; dentures because they have to first be removed, and bridges because of their hard to access nooks and crannies. In contrast, dental implants can be cleaned as you would clean your other teeth. You can floss around them, brush them, and rinse them with mouthwash as you normally would.
- High success rate. Dental implants enjoy an extremely high success rate of 98%, as opposed to dentures, which at least one study has shown to enjoy a success rate of only 60.4% overall. It's no wonder that some 500,000 patients receive dental implants every year; and that trend is increasing.
- Increased confidence. Having a gap or gaps in your teeth can have social as well as physical consequences. It is often hard to maintain confidence in social interactions with a broken or unsightly smile. However, dental implants have allowed thousands of patients to enjoy restored self-esteem, increased confidence, and a higher quality of life.
At Dr. Linger's office, we are committed to providing our patients with the absolute highest quality of care and comfort. We know that a trip to the dentist is not always easy, especially when surgery like dental implantation is involved.
Because of that, Dr. Linger takes great care to ensure his patients are always comfortable, well-informed, and relaxed. If you are in need of dental implants, or any other type of general, cosmetic, or reconstructive dentistry, reach out to us today. Let us provide you with the world class care you deserve.