Are Dental Implants the Best Choice For Me?
When I see patients who have missing teeth I want them to know about their options. A missing tooth can spoil a smile or create more serious problems. For many years, the only treatment options available were bridges and dentures. Now dental implants are available as another option for many of my patients. Here’s what you should know about dental implants.
Why should I replace missing teeth?
When teeth are lost, cosmetic and dental problems develop. Without teeth and their healthy roots, the jaw bone will eventually deteriorate. Adjacent teeth will then shift, making chewing more difficult. Moreover, an altered bite can cause changes in facial features leading to premature aging. Replacing a missing front tooth is especially important for maintaining a healthy appearance.
A dental implant is an excellent method for tooth replacement. Dental implants are replacement tooth roots. During a dental implant procedure, a prosthetic or artificial tooth root is placed into the jaw as an anchor for a replacement tooth. An artificial tooth, usually a crown, is then placed on the implant, giving the appearance and feel of a natural tooth. Implants are very stable, durable, and are the most aesthetically pleasing tooth replacement option.
Who should get an implant?
The ideal candidates for dental implants are in good general and oral health. The implant requires adequate bone in your jaw for support; if there isn’t enough bone, a sinus lift procedure is an option. The best candidates also have healthy gum tissues. This restorative treatment involves oral surgery and recovery time before the new tooth, a crown, is placed.
What’s involved in the treatment?
Dental implants take time. This restorative treatment involves oral surgery and recovery time before the new tooth, a crown, is placed. The process typically involves a team of dental professionals – a surgeon (oral surgeon or periodontist) to place the implant, a lab technician to make the crown, and a restorative or cosmetic dentist to place the crown. Although each case is different, there are generally three phases of the treatment – implantation, healing, and restoration:
- Implantation: The first phase of treatment involves the surgical implanting of a titanium rod into the jaw. This surgical procedure for one implant usually takes about an hour. The surgery is minimally invasive and does not leave an open wound, leaving the post-operation discomfort minimal.
- Healing: Once the implant is in place, it needs to be left to heal for 2-6 months, the time required for the titanium to fuse with the bone. During the healing phase, your bone will grow around the implanted rod. Successful dental implants require this time for the rod to fuse to the bone, creating a sturdy anchor for the replacement tooth. You may be fitted with a temporary denture or bridge to aid in eating and talking.
- Restoration: The third and final phase is the placement of the restoration. After your jaw has healed and the implant is fully integrated with the bone, a small connector post – called an abutment – is attached to the implanted rod. Impressions of the surrounding teeth are taken so that the customized restoration – crown- will match your natural teeth. This phase is usually completed in four to eight weeks.
Your dental implant should receive the same at-home oral care as your natural teeth – regular brushing and flossing. It will be monitored as part of your regular dental checkups.
Remember, healthy teeth make a healthy smile!
Dr. Nishan Halim
Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in adult and pediatric restorative and cosmetic dentistry, as well as preventive dentistry, which is at the heart of this Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. If you have questions about dental implants contact Dr. Halim. As a cosmetic dentist in DC, he will provide clear and helpful information about the procedure and help you determine if an implant is the right solution for you.