Millions of Americans suffer from tooth loss. This can happen for any number of reasons, whether untreated periodontal disease, dental neglect, or even traumatic accidents. The effects are always dispiriting; after all, nobody wants to go through life with gaps in the smile. Thankfully, nobody has to. There are various options for replacing lost teeth, restoring your smile both functionally as well as aesthetically. For many patients, the best option is to get dental implants.
We are pleased to assist our patients with dental implants. To learn more about the options available, we welcome you to contact State Street Dental at any time.
What are Dental Implants?
Essentially, dental implants are tiny screws, typically made from titanium. These screws are implanted to the jawbone, where they serve as artificial roots. They replace any roots that have been lost due to tooth decay, breakage, or extraction.
Over the course of several weeks, dental implants fuse with the surrounding bone, ensuring they are steady and secure. Then, your dentist will place a connective piece called an abutment on top. Then, an artificial replacement tooth is added; this may be a single crown, a bridge, or a full denture prosthesis. The artificial replacement teeth used with dental implants are custom-tailored to look and feel completely natural in your mouth.
Do I Really Need Dental Implants?
We occasionally hear from patients who wonder whether they really need to replace their lost teeth with dental implants.
There are a couple of reasons why tooth replacement is necessary. The first is simply that it restores your smile, providing you with the aesthetic appearance you desire as well as a fully functional mouth that allows you to chew your food without issue.
There is another reason why tooth replacement matters, and it may be a bit more surprising. Believe it or not, your jaw bone requires regular stimulation in order to remain healthy; it gets this stimulation from your tooth root. If you lose a tooth, however, then you also lose that stimulation, which can cause bone and other tissue to deteriorate. In other words, you can actually lose part of your jawbone as a result of tooth loss or extraction. Dental implants can help you avoid this problem and preserve your oral health.
What are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
As you consider your options for replacing lost teeth, there are a number of reasons why dental implants may prove more advantageous than the alternatives (such as dentures). Some of the primary benefits of dental implants include:
- Dental implants allow you to have teeth that function just like normal; you do not have to sacrifice any of your favorite foods.
- With proper upkeep and oral hygiene, your dental implants will last you for the rest of your life.
- Dental implants help you avoid bone loss and also keep your surrounding teeth securely in place.
- Dental implants can help you prevent facial sagging and premature signs of aging.
Am I a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
The best way to determine whether you are a good candidate for dental implants is to join Dr. Mee for a one-on-one consultation. Dr. Mee will ask you about your dental health history, evaluate your teeth and gums, and let you know about your eligibility for a safe and successful treatment.
Typically, the best candidates for dental implants meet the following criteria:
- They have either lost teeth or anticipate the need to have teeth extracted.
- They have a sufficient amount of jaw bone remaining.
- They are in good health overall, without any illnesses that would impede healing.
- They do not have any untreated periodontal disease.
- They do not smoke.
- They have spoken with their dentist and have clear expectations about the process.
To confirm that you are a good candidate for dental implants, we welcome you to make your appointment with State Street Dental today.
Getting Dental Implants: The Process
Those who are considering dental implants may have some questions or concerns about the process. Take a moment to review the basic steps in the dental implant journey, and do not hesitate to contact our office with any specific questions.
The first step is always meeting directly with Dr. Mee. During this relaxed and informative meeting, you will have a chance to ask any questions you have about dental implants. Additionally, Dr. Mee will spend some time getting to know you, asking about your needs and goals, and assessing your oral health, ensuring you are a viable candidate for dental implants. He will then talk you through some of the different treatment options that are available to you.
Preparing for Implants
If you decide to move forward with dental implants, there are a few preparations you may need to make. For one thing, any broken, diseased, or decaying teeth may need to be extracted. Any underlying gum disease will require treatment. And, if you lack sufficient bone mass, you may need to have a bone graft. We will also make some impressions of your teeth, ensuring that your artificial replacement teeth look and feel exactly right.
Placing the Implants
Your dental implant surgery will involve the use of sedation, ensuring a comfortable experience for you. During this surgery, your dentist will drill holes into your jawbone, into which the implants are placed. This may require some small incisions to be made, allowing your dentist to peel back some of the gum tissue to get a better view of your teeth. Once the implants have been placed, they will need to heal for several weeks, fusing with the surrounding bone to become stable and secure. In the meantime, your dentist may provide a temporary replacement tooth, which will be limited in functionality but allow you to enjoy a healthy-looking smile.
Returning for Replacement Teeth
It can take anywhere from six weeks to three months for your implants to heal in place. When they do, you will be invited back to State Street Dental to have artificial replacement teeth added. These replacement teeth will offer full functionality, meaning that once you are fully recovered you can resume eating your favorite foods.
Does Getting Dental Implants Hurt?
One of the most common questions we receive from patients is whether they can anticipate any pain during their dental implant surgery. Please rest assured that patient comfort is one of our foremost concerns, and as such we offer different sedation options to ensure that your procedure is pain-free.
Dr. Mee will advise regarding sedation options based on the nature of the surgery as well as the patient’s overall health. Both localized anesthesia and IV continuous sedation are available. To find out more about the sedation options that we provide, we invite you to contact State Street Dental.
Will Dental Insurance Cover the Cost of Implants?
The cost associated with dental implants can sometimes be a concern. Specifically, patients may wonder whether their dental insurance will be of any help.
All dental policies are different, and we would always encourage you to review the specific language of your policy. With that said, dental implants qualify as major surgery, and many dental insurance plans will offer at least partial coverage for this kind of procedure. Our office can answer any specific insurance questions, and we will also help you get the maximum insurance reimbursement following your dental implant procedure.
Recovery from Dental Implants
Following any kind of surgical intervention, it is important to allow your body some time to rest and recover. This is certainly true for those who get dental implants. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind regarding the dental implants process.
What Should You Expect Following Dental Implant Surgery?
After you have your dental implant surgery, it is normal to experience some bleeding, swelling, bruising, and soreness. While these symptoms may last for seven to 10 days, most patients say that the worst of it is over after the first 48 hours. Also be aware that the pain can be managed with medication, whether prescription painkillers or over-the-counter remedies.
How Long Does It Take Dental Implants to Fully Heal?
Before you have your artificial teeth put into place, it is crucial to make sure the implants have fused with the surrounding bone, holding them firmly and securely in place. This process may take anywhere from six weeks to three months, just depending on the patient.
How Much Time Should I Take Off from Work or School?
Following your dental implants procedure, you will likely feel fairly “out of it” from the sedation and will need to take a few days to rest and regather your strength. Most patients feel ready to return to school or work within three or four days. Our recommendation is to schedule your procedure for mid-week if possible, taking a couple of days off and then using the weekend to further recover.
When Can I Resume Eating?
Once your dental implant surgery is over, you will have gauze bandages over the incision site to stop any bleeding. You will want to keep the bandages in place for at least an hour. After that, you may remove them to get something to eat.
What Can I Eat Following Dental Implant Surgery?
For the first 24 hours, avoid drinking from a straw and stick to soft foods and liquids. We recommend things like applesauce, yogurt, ice cream, mashed bananas, mashed potatoes, and Jell-O. You will also want to steer clear of foods that are spicy or hot, as these foods can lead to inflammation. After the first seven to 10 days, you may resume your normal eating as you feel comfortable. Be sure to follow any specific instructions provided by your dentist about chewing with your temporary replacement tooth.
How Long Will My Dental Implants Last?
One of the good things about dental implants is that they are designed to last forever. Indeed, once a dental implant is placed, the intention is that it never be removed.
Your artificial prostheses may not last forever; in other words, you may need to have a crown or bridge replaced somewhere down the road. With that said, your artificial teeth should last at least 10 years, and you can extend their lifespan with some basic maintenance. Specifically, be sure you brush and floss regularly, and stay up to date with your dental appointments.
Are Dental Implants Right for Me?
If you have lost some teeth, or anticipate needing to have teeth extracted, then it is important to consider your options for tooth replacement. If you do not replace your missing teeth, it could cause further dental issues down the road, including bone loss and tooth instability.
Some patients may consider dentures, especially if they simply do not have sufficient bone mass for implants. For the majority of patients, however, implants represent the more comfortable, convenient, and long-lasting option.
We would love to tell you more about the advantages of dental implants, and to let you know whether you are a good candidate for a successful dental implant procedure. Reach out to State Street Dental to make an appointment with us.
Get Dental Implants
Tooth loss is an incredibly common problem, but dental implants can provide a permanent solution. Not only do they allow you to continue eating your favorite foods, but they can also restore your confident smile. We would love to talk with you further about the process of getting dental implants. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Mee, reach out to State Street Dental at any time.