Sometimes, no matter how well we take care of our teeth, things happen and teeth fail; for example, injury, disease, or decay. Aside from creating gaps in your smile, missing teeth can cause problems with your oral health. They can severely affect the alignment of your teeth, which can also interfere with chewing and digestion. If you or someone you know has experienced tooth loss, dental implants are an excellent solution to rejuvenate both your smile and health.
An implant is a synthetic tooth root in the shape of a post that is surgically placed into the bone. Today’s implants are usually made of titanium, although ceramic implants are currently becoming quite popular. When the implant is solidly fused into the bone, a restoration can be placed, either fixed or removable. Fixed restorations are more stable and feel more like natural teeth.
A thorough examination will be completed by Dr. Dalessandro. This will include X-rays and a CT scan to diagnose the available bone height and quality, as well as other anatomical structures. He will also clinically evaluate your periodontal and tissue condition and inspect for any other areas that may need additional treatment (implants or otherwise).
The ideal candidate for implants is a non-smoker who has good oral health, including a sufficient amount of bone in the jaw and healthy gums with no sign of gum disease. If you don’t have these ideal conditions, it does not mean you can’t have an implant; some additional procedures may be necessary first to give you a good implant result, such as periodontal therapy, ridge augmentation, or sinus lift.
If your tooth is still in place, it will need to be extracted, and bone-grafting material will be placed to rebuild the bone in the socket. This will be allowed to heal for two to three months. Occasionally, an implant can be placed immediately when the tooth is extracted, so you can avoid months of healing.
A dental implant will then be placed into the space where the tooth was, and over the next three to six months, the implant will fuse into the bone until it is strong enough to be an anchor for your new crown. You may wear a temporary tooth replacement over the implant during this time. Once everything has healed, a crown will be created by your restorative dentist.
Implants that have fused into the bone very seldom fail or have any problems. However, it is worthwhile to remember that there are no guarantees in dentistry. We are dealing with an area of constant function, and these areas need regular care, just like your teeth do to maintain their health.
Your implant will have a strong potential to give you many years of use. Treat it the same as natural teeth: they look, feel, and also act the same. Therefore, they require the same conscientious at-home care and the same professional checkups to keep them clean and healthy. A bite guard is usually recommended because you can't feel if you bite too hard on an implant, and excessive force can damage the implant or the crown. Just like your natural teeth, the better you take care of them, the longer they will last!