A Guide to Dental Implants: Are They the Best Choice for Missing Teeth?

Despite decades of advancements in dental care, more than 120 million Americans still experience tooth loss. For years, the only treatment options available were dentures or bridges, but dental implants are changing the way people choose to restore their missing teeth spaces and improve their smile.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are the closest comparison to real teeth. They’re essentially artificial roots that are placed in your jaw bone and eventually bond with your natural bone. These “roots” provide a sturdy base for artificial teeth (also known as crowns), which are developed to match your natural teeth and make it hard to tell the difference between an implant and a real tooth.

When are Dental Implants Recommended?

Dental Implants are recommended when candidates are healthy enough to undergo oral surgery. Patients should have enough bone to support the implant and commit to good oral hygiene and routine dental checkups.

They’re an excellent solution if you’ve lost a single or multiple teeth and want to get a replacement. Ideally, you should get the implant as soon as possible after losing the tooth to preserve bone.

What to Expect

Your dentist that is going to place the implant will create an individualized treatment plan for you and go through the process with you. During the procedure, you will undergo local anesthesia or oral sedation to alleviate discomfort. The procedure itself may take one to two hours per tooth. 

The dentist will place the implant (artificial root), by first making a small incision in the gum followed by insertion of the implant into the bone using special rotary instruments. Your jawbone heals around the implant, which can take between 6-12 weeks.

Finally, the dentist will take imprints of your bite to form your new tooth (or teeth). The tooth part( the crown) will be attached to the implant after the gum has healed and the implant is securely attached to the bone.

The entire procedure takes place over the course of several months to allow for proper healing. 

Healing Time

Like many dental procedures, dental implants will require a healing process. Immediately after surgery, you will need to switch to a soft foods diet and resume normal eating between 7 and 30 days, depending on your procedure. For more difficult procedures, the healing process of the soft tissue around the implant may take as long as six weeks.

Pain may last anywhere from a week to a month and is easily managed with medication.

To speed up your recovery, you’ll want to avoid smoking, alcohol, using a drinking straw, and hot foods and drinks. You may also want to take it easy for the first week, as too much movement can cause discomfort and even bleeding.

Are Dental Implants the Best Choice?

Dental implants can be an ideal solution for the right candidates, but your dentist is your best resource for exploring your options. Because of the complexity of the procedure and healing time, getting dental implants isn’t a decision to make lightly.

Schedule a consultation today to discuss your options and see if getting dental implants is the way to make you smile!

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