A Permanent Replacement for Missing Teeth
Missing teeth come with all sorts of dental problems, and they can affect your confidence as well. People with missing teeth often report feeling self-conscious about them in social settings; whether it's laughing, smiling, speaking, or even eating in front of other people, they feel uncomfortable and worry that others might notice.
Add to that the associated health issues, like shifting of the other teeth in the mouth, deteriorating jawbone material, and trouble properly chewing food, missing teeth can negatively affect myriad aspects of your life. There's no question that replacing them is a good idea – but how?
We often recommend dental implants to our patients who are missing teeth because they are effectively a permanent solution to the problem. With proper care, they can last for decades. Dental implants also tend to look quite natural, blending in almost seamlessly with the surrounding natural teeth in most cases.
What exactly is a dental implant?
The dental implant itself is a tiny titanium screw that is surgically implanted into the jawbone. Because titanium is compatible with organic bone material, the implant fuses with the jawbone and functions very much like a natural tooth root.
The implant is then capped with a dental crown, which acts as the tooth above the gum line. Together, these elements create a replacement tooth that looks and functions very much like a natural tooth would.
Why choose dental implants to replace missing teeth?
Ultimately, the tooth replacement you choose will depend on your personal health needs, budget, the level of convenience you want, and a variety of other factors.
Dental implants are a great choice for patients who want their replacement teeth to look, feel and function as much like natural teeth as possible. They can also be the right choice for those who do not want to deal with removable appliances.
Dental implants can help to restore facial tissues and appearance by preventing surrounding teeth from shifting, resolving bite issues or jaw joint pain, and preventing surrounding teeth from shifting.
Why is it important to replace missing teeth?
Aside from the aesthetic element, missing teeth can cause a variety of dental problems that make replacing them essential to maintaining oral health.
When there is an empty space in your jaw, the teeth surrounding that space can shart shifting out of position, as there is no longer anything there to keep them in place. This can cause misalignment problems over time which may require orthodontic treatment to correct.
Additionally, our natural teeth stimulate jawbone growth and preservation through chewing and biting. When you’re missing a tooth, the bone in that area no longer gets this stimulation. This can cause the bone to deteriorate, over time leading to a condition called facial collapse.
The Dental Implant Procedure
Step 1: Remove the Damaged Tooth
If the problem tooth is still present in your mouth, the first step will be to extract it. Once the extraction has healed, the actual process of dental implant placement can begin.
Step 2: (Possible) Bone Graft
If you have jawbone deterioration as a result of your missing teeth, you may need a bone graft in preparation for your dental implant procedure. If this is the case, then you will have to heal from your bone graft surgery before the implant can be placed.
Step 3: Implant Placement
During the implant surgery itself, the dentist will place the titanium screw in your jaw. While you heal from the surgery, a temporary denture can be placed.
Step 4: Osseointegration
Osseointegration is the process by which the titanium screw becomes fused with the jawbone. This usually takes a few months.
Step 5: Dental Prosthesis (Artificial Tooth) Placement
Once your gums heal, you'll have more impressions made of your mouth and remaining teeth. These impressions are used to make the crown that will eventually be attached to your implant to complete the process.
This part of the process may take some time because we'll want to get the look of your new tooth (or teeth) just right. We want it to look as much a part of your natural smile as possible!
Dental Implant FAQs
Read the answers to our most frequently asked questions about dental implants at Expressions Dental Care.
How long does a dental implant last?
With proper oral health care, dental implants can last a lifetime.
Dental implants don't really need any special care. As long as you continue maintaining a proper oral hygiene routine at home, and attending regular hygiene cleanings and exams at your dental office, your dental implants shouldn't fail.
However, the longevity of a dental implant may also depend on other factors including nutrition, genetics, or the development of any dental diseases.
How do I care for my dental implants?
Once the dental implant surgery process is complete and you have healed, you can care for your dental implant just like you care for your natural teeth.
Basically, this comes down to your normal dental health routine: Visiting your dentist for regular hygiene appointments and maintaining proper brushing and flossing at home to can help prevent decay or diseases that may affect the area around your implant.
Does getting a dental implant hurt?
During dental implant surgery, your dentist will administer anesthesia, so you won't feel pain during the procedure.
Following the procedure, you may experience some discomfort during the healing process, especially within the first week or so. Most patients can manage any pain with over-the-counter pain medication for a few days afterwards.
You will also need to eat a soft diet for the first couple of weeks after the implant procedure to avoid pain or irritation.
How long does the dental implant process take?
The entire dental implant process, including preparation, the surgery itself, and related healing time, can take anywhere from two to nine months to complete. The overall time will be affected by the particulars of your treatment plan, the number of implants placed, and various other factors.
Your dentist can provide you with a more specific timeline based on your particular case.
Will my insurance cover dental implants?
Some insurance companies will cover the cost of dental implants, while some will only pay for a portion of the cost, and others won't pay for any part of it.
To determine what part, if any, of your dental implant treatment will be covered by your insurance, check with your insurance provider.