A dental implant is the closest tooth replacement option you can get to a healthy, natural tooth. Whether you’re missing one tooth or a few, dental implants may be the long term restorative option you are looking for to help you get back to living life how you want to without worrying about your teeth in every day activities such as smiling, laughing, talking, eating, kissing, and more!
Dental implants have been designed to mimic as much of natural tooth structure and function as possible. Modern dental implants have been used for over 30 years and continue to evolve. Over 3,000,000 people in the USA have dental implants and that number grows by over 500,000 every year. Dental implants are the strongest replacement for missing teeth and allow for the best feel and function, and it isn’t just a fad!
What is a dental implant made of and what are the steps to getting one?
Dental implants are composed of a titanium implant, an abutment, and an implant crown.
The titanium implant is like an artificial tooth root and shaped like a screw. After being placed in your jawbone, the titanium integrates or bonds with your natural bone. This makes it strong and sturdy for supporting biting, chewing, and talking.
The next part is an abutment, a customized connector, that connects the implant to the implant crown. It provides a customized base for the crown that best suits your bite and smile.
Last, an implant crown is placed on top of the abutment. The crown is custom made to the right size, shape, and tooth shade as the rest of your mouth. Functionality and cosmetics are taken into full consideration in the design of the implant crown to make sure you have a long lasting tooth replacement that helps you maintain a healthy, happy smile.
Dental implant placement usually involves the following steps:
Exam and consultation: Dr. Barr will thoroughly examine your mouth, including taking X-rays, photos, and 3D images, discuss the various implant options and develop a treatment plan for your tooth replacement.
Dental implant placement surgery: At your scheduled surgery appointment, Dr. Barr will place the dental implant in your jawbone in the space where your natural tooth is missing. Depending on your comfort level, this procedure can be done with local anesthetic or sedation. Many people find that the surgery is less painful and has less discomfort after than they expect. Dr. Barr and his team will provide you with risks and limitations prior to the appointment to allow you to ask questions. They will also provide post-operative instructions to minimize discomfort, clean and maintain the surgical site until your next appointment, and answer any additional questions you may have.
Healing period to allow for osseointegration: Allowing your jawbone and surrounding tissues to heal around the implant for a few months will promote a process called osseointegration. This is where the titanium implant and jawbone grow together to create a strong foundation for the tooth replacement. During this time, you may be able to wear a removable tooth replacement option called an interim partial denture or flipper. Dr. Barr can help you determine if this a temporary option for you until your implant is healed.
Implant exposure and abutment: After your healing period and the implant has integrated in your jawbone, Dr. Barr will expose the implant and choose an abutment for you. The abutment is placed on the dental implant just above the gum line. A short healing period (usually 1-3 weeks) will follow to allow the gums to heal around the abutment for the best cosmetic results.
Custom implant crown: After your gums heal, Dr. Barr and his assistant will make an impression of your mouth and existing teeth to custom make your implant crown(s). They will take a bite registration, an impression of your bite, to make sure the new crown aligns in your current bite for the best form, function, and cosmetic results. Once the implant crown is fabricated, it will be attached to the abutment and adjusted by Dr. Barr to finalize the best possible outcome. Congratulations on your new implant tooth!
Periodic exams and hygiene visits: Although your new implant can’t decay, it does require keeping the implant and surrounding gums and teeth healthy. You’ll still need to brush and floss daily to ensure the best long-term results. Regular visits to see Dr. Barr and a hygienist are also necessary to continue to monitor and maintain the health of your mouth, including your new implant.
What are the advantages of an implant compared to other options?
They feel great and you’ll look great! Dental implants can feel, look, fit and function next to your healthy, natural teeth as though they were natural, too. You brush and floss them just like you do your natural teeth. Not only do they look natural, they also help you retain your natural face shape and smile.
They’re designed to last! Dental implants that are properly cared for can last decades without issues or replacement. Many other options, including certain types of dental bridges and dentures, may need to be replaced as often as every 5 to 10 years. This can end up requiring a more significant investment of time and money, as well as frustration on your part.
You can smile, laugh, talk, and eat with confidence! Your dental implants will be sturdy and secure, so they won't slip, fall out, or click when you talk, eat, smile or laugh. You'll also find that your speech is more natural and not impeded by large removable appliances or the space of missing teeth. With dental implants, you will notice a difference in your confidence in so many ways!
They protect facial bone and healthy teeth. Empty spaces in your mouth after losing one or more teeth can lead to health issues such as jawbone deterioration and shifting of remaining teeth. Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that help stimulate bone growth and prevent bone loss in your jaw. Getting dental implants as soon as possible after losing a tooth helps prevent bone loss at the site. Also, dental implants don't require grinding down adjacent teeth to anchor bridges or attach partial dentures. Sometimes healthy teeth without decay or prior restorations have to be used to anchor bridges exposing those teeth to future problems. Dental implants keep a one tooth problem as a one tooth solution!
Dental implants are an amazing technology and dental restoration!
Call our office and schedule your exam and consultation with Dr. Barr to find out how dental implants can give you the smile you crave!
(If you would like more information on implant dentistry click here)