Dental Implants: What to Expect
While they may seem scary at first, dental implants are a safe, long-term solution to missing or decaying teeth that can act as a stable replacement for dentures. Dental implants are a permanent replacement for that that can help maintain your jaw structure and allow you to regain part of your natural smile. A good set of dental implants is nearly indistinguishable from your natural teeth and are cleaned and kept almost the same as your normal smile. Since dental implants are more permanent and less fickle than dentures, you don’t have to worry about complicated nightly routines or uncomfortable slippage while chewing. Plus, since dental implants attach directly to your jaw, you can avoid jawbone structure loss and keep your smile looking happy and youthful for years to come.
Here at North End Dental in Colorado Springs, we are happy to help our patients find out if dental implants are right for them. If you are missing a fair number of your teeth, or have a single tooth that needs replacement, dental implants can help you maintain your confidence and the appearance of your smile without causing undue complications to your oral health routine. While dental implants do require a more invasive procedure than dentures, a well-kept dental implant can last you for decades with minimal upkeep and adjustment and can last your entire life if cared for correctly. While dental implants may be a bit of an investment, some dental insurance plans will help cover the cost in order to help preserve your oral health overall. In the long term, dental implants are more financially stable than dentures as they are easier to repair and longer lasting.
But what are dental implants, and how can they help drastically improve your dental health while reducing the frustration and discomfort caused by dental extraction and dentures?
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is made up of two parts: the anchor and the crown. A dental implant uses these two components to simulate the attachment of your natural teeth to your jawbone. The anchor point (also known as the dental implant) is a metal rod that is implanted into your jaw and then allowed to heal. This creates a strong base point that things like crowns and dental bridges, or all-on-four full set replacements. By attaching the crowns and dental replacement pieces directly to your jawbone, dental implants allow you to continue your oral habits as you would if you were using your natural teeth. Because of the anchor points, your replacement teeth will remain firmly in place without any of the pastes or adhesives that you would need for dentures.
Dental implants allow your dentist to replace a single missing tooth using a dental crown, or to replace a large section of your missing teeth using a dental bridge, which attaches a suspended dental structure to two anchor points, such as your natural teeth or, in many cases dental implants. By attaching this structure to a secure point on either end, you can continue to use your new teeth as you would your natural teeth. Dental implants are also used for other dental procedures, such as total set replacement, which includes swapping out either the top or bottom row of your teeth for an all-on-four dental set. This is useful in cases of extreme dental decay or where multiple extractions are made necessary due to infection. By connecting the all-on-four system to four dental implant anchor points, your new teeth are sure to be secure and comfortable no matter the activity!
But what are some of the long-term benefits of dental implants, and how are they more practical and more cost-effective than dentures or other forms of dental replacement?
Benefits of Dental Implants
Dental implants offer a form of security that can’t be easily found in other dental replacement products. While both full and partial dentures are a wonderful short-term option for someone who has lost a large number of teeth, in the case of one or two lost teeth in different locations in the mouth having a single denture is impractical and would be frustrating to eat with. Dental implants allow a patient to replace a single tooth without straining the teeth around them. On top of this, making sure to replace a lost or extracted tooth can help prevent future decay and infection in the remaining space left behind, as dental implants are impervious to decay and will provide protection and support for the teeth next to them.
When it comes to partial and full set replacements, while dentures may be a cheaper option, often times they are far from comfortable. Not only do patients who have dentures face frustration while eating due to denture slippage and food making its way under the base of the dentures, they also have to be careful about keeping their dentures in good condition. Dentures come with their own care routine separate from the normal oral health care regimen used by most people, and this can cause a transitional period for some patients. Along with this, dentures do not preserve the shape of the jaw once the underlying teeth are extracted, which can lead to jaw sagging and gum line shrinkage. These can contribute to facial aging and denture gaping.
While dental implants are more stable and long-lasting than dentures, they do come with their own complicated dental procedure that includes surgery and a healing period. The upside to dentures is that, for the most part, you can use them right away once the gum line has healed from any dental extractions, while dental implants need time to recover before being used.
The Dental Implant Procedure
First, your dentist’s office will set up a consultation appointment to help gauge if dental implants are a step in the right direction for your oral health. For individuals with a history of infection, or who have bone and gum issues, dental implants may aggravate an existing condition, or your body may reject the implant entirely. Your dentist will evaluate your oral health to see if you are at risk for any of these things before going forward with the procedure. This is a good point to discuss any concerns or questions you may have with your dentist to get a better understanding of the installation procedure and healing process.
Before installing your dental implant, your dentist will perform any necessary extractions and allow them time to heal before proceeding. In the case of a single dental implant, your dentist will design a dental crown for installation before proceeding. If you are getting a dental bridge or full set replacement, your dentist will work to create a new set of teeth that will fit your jawline and prevent any wear and tear on your remaining teeth. An unbalanced set of dental crowns can cause discomfort to the patient and damage to the surrounding teeth. Your dentist will make sure to design a perfect fit for your unique dental needs to ensure that you end up with the right dental implants for you.
During the procedure, your dentist will apply a localized anesthetic to the surrounding areas or use laughing gas or a similar substance to help sedate you during the procedure. Once you have been comfortably sedated or anesthetized, your dentist will drill into your jawbone and insert the post of the dental implant. The implant itself will stick up above your gumline slightly to give the dental crown a surface to attach do. If your dentist is installing more than one dental implant, they will usually place all of them in one to two procedures depending on the patient needs. Once your dentist places your implants, you will need to wait a couple weeks for the bone to grow back around the implant in order to prevent discomfort and infection and to ensure that they are properly attached. In the case of larger extractions or all-on-four dental installations, your dentist will provide you a set of temporary dentures while your implants are healing.
After the implants have healed, your dentist will set up an appointment to fit your dental crown or replacement set. Once these are attached, you are free to use your new teeth however you would like. Keep in mind, your new teeth might feel weird in your mouth as you adjust to them, but your mouth should acclimate after a few days. Since dental crowns and bridges are made of a synthetic material, they do need to be kept up every 3-5 years and may need eventual replacement. However, they are less prone to abrasion than your natural teeth and are more durable than most dentures.
How Dental Implants Make Life Easier
Dental implants take some of the stress out of tooth or teeth replacement, as they are functional replacements for your natural teeth that you can use to chew, smile with, and sleep in without worrying about complicated care and keeping routines. More stable than dentures and able to comfortably replace a single tooth or a whole smile, dental implants are a multi-use dental tool that allows your dentist to rebuild your smile from the group up, or to preserve your remaining pearly whites for years to come.
If you are looking to get dental implants in the Colorado Springs, Colorado area, contact our office today! We’d be more than happy to help you set up a consultation appointment with one of our skilled dentists to evaluate if dental implants are right for you.