If you are missing teeth, require tooth extractions, or don’t like the way your dentures feel or fit, dental implants may be the right option for you. However, there are several factors affecting whether or not you’re a good candidate for this procedure, and there are different types of dental implants available. To help you understand more dental implants and determine if they are right for you, our Raleigh cosmetic dentist is providing an in-depth look into what implants are, what they’re made of, and much more!
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What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant a permanent dental device consisting of a metal frame or a metal post that’s surgically installed below the gumline, either within the jaw bone or on top of it and has a post extending upwards to protrude through the gum. Once the post is in place, a dentist attaches an artificial tooth. Because the posts can be individually placed, these are good for people who are only missing one tooth to those who are missing several teeth.
Benefits of Dental Implants
For people who have extensive tooth decay and need extractions, are sensitive about missing teeth, or people who already have dentures, implants could be an excellent opportunity for a better smile! Because they are generally permanent fixtures, they don’t slip, shift, or loosen like dentures do, which can be both uncomfortable and even embarrassing if it happens when you are talking or eating with others. Instead, implants look, feel, and function in much the same way as your natural teeth, allowing people with them to comfortably eat, chew, and talk in ease and comfort.
Also, implants can act independently, meaning they don’t need to be anchored to other teeth. With partial dentures and bridges, it has to hook or attach to an anchor tooth, which, over time can weaken the natural tooth.
Am I a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
While your cosmetic dentist will work with you individually to determine if this procedure is right for you, dental implants are best for people with strong, healthy jaw bones and healthy gums. Both are needed to adequately support the post. Also, implants require care – brushing two or three times a day, daily flossing, and regular dental checkups to ensure the gums remain healthy. It’s also necessary to do this to care for any natural teeth left. For people unable to dedicate proper care to them, traditional dentures may be the better option.
What If I’m Not a Good Candidate?
If you have deterioration in your jawbone or it can’t support implants your dentist may be able to restore and rebuild your jaws through one of three techniques:
- Bone augmentation – This is a type of bone graft that uses either your own bone or bone additives to the jaw to help it regenerate. It often takes a few months for the graft to fully fuse with the bone and create a strong enough foundation for dental implants.
- Sinus Lift – When upper back teeth are missing, it can cause the bones under the sinus to deteriorate. In this case, bone can be grafted below the sinuses.
- Ridge expansion – For narrow jaw bones, a graft can create a small ridge to provide a platform that is wide enough to place the dental implant
Types of Dental Implants
There are two main types of dental implants that your dentist may recommend:
- Endosteal – This is the more common option. A post is installed directly into the jawbone and extends upward through the gum, where an artificial tooth is placed on top.
- Subperiosteal – While it’s less common, this implant is placed underneath the gumline and rests on or over the jawbone. As it heals, the frame attaches permanently to the jawbone. Like the endosteal implant, posts protrude upward through the gums from the frame where an artificial tooth is mounted on top. This method is used for patients who are unable or unwilling to have bone augmentation performed.
The Process of Getting Dental Implants
In order to install a dental implant, the titanium post acts like a root, connecting your tooth to your jaws. In order to implant the artificial teeth, the process requires an in-depth process with a restorative or cosmetic dentist.
First, you’ll meet with your dentist for an in-depth evaluation and dental x-rays to make sure you are a good candidate as well as determine how many implants need to be added. Additionally, because this is a surgical procedure, your medical history and conditions will be discussed.
Removing Damaged Teeth
If you have damaged, decayed, or broken teeth that are beyond repair, they will be removed prior to having surgery and generally, we allow the area to heal and prescribe antibiotics if there is any infection in the area.
This step may be unnecessary, but as we described above, this ensures your jaw is strong enough to support your dental implant. The procedure itself is not long, but it will need to heal and the graft will have to fuse which can take time.
The Dental Implant Surgery
Once the jaw is strong enough, your dentist is able to perform the installation of the implant. Your dentist opens the gum to expose the bone, and a space is drilled to make a space to insert the post deep within the bone. Because the permanent abutment – the post upon which the crown is placed – can’t be inserted until the metal implant post fully grows into the jaw (a process called osseointegration) and heals, a temporary tooth will be placed on top that must be kept clean.
Placing a Permanent Abutment
In some cases, the abutment for holding the crown is placed after the implant heals and osseointegration has taken place. Other times, it’s placed at the same time when the post is implanted. Your dentist will help you determine which option is right for you. After your gums have healed following the abutment placement, the artificial tooth can be attached.
Getting dental implants may sound scary, but at Six Forks Smiles, we do everything we can to ensure the process is comfortable for you, and we will provide you with full instructions on how to heal. By the time the process is complete, you’ll have a healthy, lovely smile you can be proud of!
Contact Us for Dental Implants in Raleigh
You shouldn’t have to struggle with ill-fitting dentures or missing teeth! Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation for dental implants and learn if they are right for you!
Call today to schedule your appointment at our dentist office