One of the most exciting technical advances available in dentistry today is the use of dental implants. A dental implant is a small titanium artificial tooth root that is surgically anchored into your jaw to replace one tooth or several teeth. The benefit of using implants is that they don’t rely on neighboring teeth for support; they are permanent and stable. Implants are a great solution to tooth loss because they look and feel like natural teeth.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of implants?
Who is a candidate for an implant?
Any individual regardless of age from children to older adults can be considered for an implant. You must be in good health and have the proper bone structure and healthy gums for the implant to stay in place. People who are unable to wear dentures may also be good candidates. If you suffer from chronic problems, such as clenching or bruxism, or systemic diseases, such as diabetes, the success rate for implants decreases dramatically. Additionally, people who smoke or drink alcohol may not be good candidates.
How long does the process take?
The process can take up to one year to complete. The implant must heal in the bone for four to six months before the tooth or teeth can be attached to the implants.
Does it hurt to get an implant?
This varies from one person to another. Most patients experience very little swelling or discomfort which usually ends within one or two days following the surgery. Medications will be prescribed for any soreness or discomfort.
What is the success rate of implants?
The success rate for dental implants depends on the tooth’s purpose and location in the mouth. The success rate is about 95% for those placed in the front of the lower jaw and 85% for those placed in the sides and rear of the upper jaw.
What is the procedure for a tooth implant?
- The patient is anesthetized just like having a tooth removed.
- The gums are retracted to expose the bone and an opening is made into the bone that is the same dimension as the implant.
- The implant is placed into the bone.
- The tissue is closed around the implant, allowing time for healing and for the bone to grow into the implant. This process takes approximately three to six months.
- During this period of time the patient wears a temporary denture or bridge.
- Once the implant has become integrated into the bone, the gums are reopened and a mounting post is attached to the implant.
- Finally a crown is fabricated over the post and either cemented or screwed into place.
How do I care for my implants?
You care for them just like you do your natural teeth. You brush and floss the implant at least twice a day, and do not pick your teeth with metal objects. Avoid chewing on hard objects or extremely sticky food. Additional cleanings of up to four times per year may be necessary to ensure that you retain healthy gums.
To find out if you are a good candidate for dental implants, contact Dr. Postol at his St. Louis area office in Ballwin, MO today!