Dental implants are an excellent, highly effective option for restoring your smile. The implant process is perfect for replacing a single tooth or for patients who need to replace missing teeth and aren’t comfortable wearing dentures. In addition to being more comfortable and longer lasting than traditional alternatives, dental implants are critical for protecting facial bones and maintaining a healthy structure for the duration of your life.
With so many treatment options for improving your dental health, it can be overwhelming and confusing to know which solution is right for you. Dental implants are a wonderful tool, and since we get a lot of questions about them, let’s walk through the basics of what they are, who they benefit, and what to expect if you’re considering them.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are small, screw-like posts made out of titanium—and other materials safe for the human body—that are carefully positioned in a patient’s upper or lower jaw to provide foundational support for the replacement of teeth. This post is implanted into your jawbone and goes through a healing process called osseointegration, in which the implant actually combines with the bone over time. This process can take months or be done in one procedure, depending on the patient’s particular diagnosis and treatment plan.
After this phase, once the implant has been fully integrated, a dental crown—or replacement tooth—is created and attached to the implant. Crowns are customized for each patient based on size, shape and color and are designed to look like the existing teeth. For groups of replacement teeth, your dentist will develop bridges or dentures that form together to replace an entire area or series of teeth. Dental crowns can sometimes require several months to develop, depending on the case, so your dentist might install a temporary crown, bridge or denture to aid you in chewing and talking until the final replacement is produced.
Who can benefit from dental implants?
Dental implants are extremely effective for adults, regardless of age. This is a versatile, long-term solution for those who are naturally missing teeth from birth or have lost teeth due to an accident, disease or decay. Implants are also safe and effective for children as long as they have a fully developed facial structure, which usually happens in the late teen years (16-18).
There are a variety of benefits when it comes to dental implants. First of all, implants are designed to mimic the appearance, comfortability and functionality of natural teeth. There aren’t any processes you have to go through for cleaning or maintenance, so you’ll be able to brush and floss daily just like you would natural teeth. They also protect underlying bones and surrounding natural teeth, while stimulating bone growth and preventing bone loss.
Implants are incredibly resilient and will remain secure in your mouth for decades after they are installed. Because they are custom-fitted for your mouth, you won’t notice any uncomfortable movement or inhibitors while speaking or chewing. Dental implants allow you the freedom to eat what you want, speak clearly and fluidly, and smile as much as you’d like!
What can I expect from the dental implant process?
The process to place dental implants begins with a comprehensive examination of your mouth, including taking X-rays or 3D images, to diagnose your case and create a custom treatment plan. From there, you will schedule an appointment with your dentist or surgeon to undergo the implant procedure. This is a fairly simple and painless process. Most patients recover within a day of the procedure, often returning to work the following day.
As you go through the implant healing process—osseointegration—your dentist will recommend a diet of softer foods. After your implant has healed within the jaw bone, your implant dentist will use your surrounding teeth to create a mold of your new, custom replacement tooth or teeth. Even though these teeth are artificial and will not decay, they will still require periodic checkups and cleanings like natural teeth.
The entire implant process can take three to nine months to complete. After the implant placement, you’ll be asked to come in for regular visits to ensure you’re on track with your treatment plan and adjust for next steps accordingly.
As you can see, there are many factors to be aware of when it comes to dental implants. The benefits of this treatment are proven, and the results can be life-changing. If you’re ready to improve your smile or have questions about dental implants, please feel free to contact us or schedule some time to speak with one of our dental team members.
While our area of expertise does not include implant placement, we work closely with our highly skilled dental surgeons throughout the entire process, from treatment planning to final restoration. We take great pride in our implant restorative work, which includes crowns, bridges and implant-supported prostheses. Our team is standing by to answer your questions and to make sure you receive the best care in the most comfortable environment possible.
Dental Arts is a full-service general dentistry and orthodontic practice for the entire family. For more than three decades, we have been providing the highest quality dental and orthodontic care available to the residents of New Orleans. Explore the Dental Arts difference today.