Unfortunately, many individuals have one or more teeth removed at some point in their lifetime. Whether it be from a crack, fracture, decay, or root trauma, losing a tooth can be detrimental to a person’s self-confidence and the functionality of their teeth. Many dentists believe that dental implants are the best choice for replacing a missing tooth. A dental implant consists of a single titanium screw, which is made specifically for the bone to integrate into. The bone in the jaw “grows” into and around the titanium screw, providing an anchor for the false tooth (crown) to be placed. This advanced treatment is the only known procedure to stimulate bone growth surrounding the adjacent tissues effectively. Additionally, the implant itself provides the chewing system with stability and durability.
Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?
To determine if you are a candidate for dental implants, you will need to schedule a consultation with a dentist who has plenty of experience performing the procedure. Dr. Chad Tomazin first checks the integrity of the bone structure where the implant is going to be placed. This can be done by examining the bite and alignment in addition to taking X-rays and photographs of the area. A dental impression is also made so that a customized crown can be created. In some instances, a computed tomography (CT) scan is necessary to confirm the level of the existing bone.
The Dental Implant Procedure
The dental implant procedure may be as simple as placing the implant or require a series of appointments when placing the implant. There are three vital steps to a dental implant procedure:
- Bone Graft: For a dental implant to be successful, there must be sufficient bone present to anchor the restoration. Usually, when a tooth is removed, over 50 percent of the bone is lost at the extraction site. In cases like this, additional bone must be placed before a dental implant procedure. If bone placement is required, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication should be prescribed to aid in recovery. It can take between three and six months for the new bone to graft, at which point X-rays are taken to ensure it is strong enough for dental implant placement.
- Implant Placement: The placement of the dental implant is crucial for a successful result. After the treatment area has been anesthetized, a small hole is drilled into the jaw bone. This hole is slowly widened to prevent the destruction of the jaw bone surrounding the implant site. The dental implant is then placed, and the surrounding gum tissue is secured over the implant along with a protective cover screw.
- Crown Placement: Before a permanent crown is attached to the implant, the bone must integrate with the titanium screw, which can take anywhere from three to six months. A temporary crown can be placed in cases where the implant placement is in the front of the mouth.
After your dental implant procedure, you may experience some swelling and pain. However, most individuals who undergo the procedure report having minimal discomfort and swelling in the treated area. Over-the-counter medication and cold compresses can help alleviate these side effects. Prescription pain medication can also be prescribed, if necessary. During the week following your dental implant placement, it is best to consume a diet of soft foods and rinse the mouth after eating. Your dentist will likely schedule a series of follow-up appointments to evaluate the healing process.
When taken care of properly, a dental implant can last for more than 40 years! Proper at-home dental hygiene is critical to the success of the implant. The number one cause of dental implant failure is lack of flossing the area followed by lack of brushing the area. If plaque is not removed from the implant site, an infection can develop. Cleaning the dental implant as you would your natural teeth will ensure the best outcome.
If you have a heavy bite or habit of clenching or grinding, a nightguard is necessary. Although titanium is a durable metal, an uneven load or heavy wear on the implant is not ideal. The bite guard is a clear wafer-like appliance that patients wear at night to ease the pressure on the natural teeth and dental implant. This device helps to ensure the longevity of your dental implant.
To find out if you are a candidate for dental implants, please contact the office of Dr. Chad Tomazin by calling 951.686.3666.