Dental implants lead the way when it comes to tooth replacement solutions. Since they are surgically fitted, dental implants are strong and secure, providing improved functionality and aesthetics for beautiful smiles.
If left untreated, missing teeth can contribute to oral health issues, like malocclusion and eventual decay because it’s more difficult to clean between the teeth. In some cases, missing teeth can result in jawbone resorption, altering your facial structure.
A dental implant acts as an entire replacement tooth, from the root to the crown. Since the dental implant screw fuses with your jawbone, dental implants are a permanent solution for tooth loss. Restoring your teeth, gum tissue, and jawbone structure and functionality can revitalize your smile and mitigate problems associated with tooth loss or severely damaged teeth.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a small, cylindrical metal post that replaces a tooth root. The implant is usually made from titanium. Titanium contains biocompatible properties, allowing it to fuse with the jawbone in a process called osseointegration.
Once the titanium implant fuses successfully with the jawbone, it becomes a permanent body feature.
Complete dental implant restoration has other essential components besides the implant rod. An abutment is a connector that screws into the implant, acting as the foundation for the artificial teeth or dental crowns. O-rings may also be used to secure implants or overdentures.
Types of Dental Implants
Dental implants have three parts: the implant rod, the abutment (connector), and the prosthesis. The artificial tooth can be a single dental crown, a bridge, or an entire arch of dentures, depending on how many teeth you’re missing.
Implant for dental crowns
A dental implant can be used to replace one or multiple teeth. A single implant is required to replace one tooth. However, you may not need one implant for every missing tooth. Three teeth can typically be replaced with two implants, forming an implant-supported bridge. You can also opt for an All-on-4 when an entire arch of dentures is fixed to four implant rods that act as artificial roots.
Standard implants are completed with dental crowns. At Owens Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, our dental crowns are made from high-quality, stain-resistant, and smooth white porcelain. We polish, shape, and color our dental crowns to ensure they align with your existing teeth and complexion. Porcelain is one of the leading crown materials in modern dentistry as it provides a bright but natural aesthetic.
An implant-supported bridge is a popular type of implant used to replace multiple teeth grouped close together. An implant-supported bridge differs from a standard dental bridge in its support structure.
While regular dental bridges rely on adjacent teeth for support, an implant-supported bridge attaches directly to the implant. This not only contributes to a more natural feeling prosthesis, but it also reduces wear and tear on your natural teeth.
Implants for dentures
Dental implants may also be used to house overdentures. This process typically involves placing implants on the top and bottom jawbones inside the mouth. The dentures can then be screwed or snapped into place. Although some dentures are designed for permanent use, many are removable, making them easier to clean.
The Dental Implant Procedure
The dental implant procedure is a multistep process over several months. It involves two surgical procedures, meaning the body needs adequate healing time for successful integration.
The first step is to arrange a consultation with Dr. Owens. Dr. Owens can determine whether you are suitable for dental implants using the latest dental technology and equipment at your consultation.
We use intraoral cameras and digital X-rays to take 3D scans of your teeth, gums, and jawbone. After a thorough examination, Dr. Owens will discuss your dental treatment options.
You may require preparatory work prior to dental implant surgery. For example, active gum disease can cause serious complications during and after surgery, causing the implant to fail. If gaps in your teeth have led to bone loss, you may require a bone graft. The bone grafting procedure adds volume to your jawbone, improving density where bone loss has occurred.
Sinus augmentation or a sinus lift is another common preparatory procedure. It is usually required if you are missing teeth in the upper back of the jaw. Over time, the maxillary sinus may drop down, filling the space left behind by the missing teeth. Lifting the sinus back to its original position eliminates the risk of the implants penetrating the sinus membrane.
Once your mouth, teeth, and gums recover from the preparatory work, you may proceed with dental implant surgery.
Dental implant surgery
The first stage of dental implant surgery involves placing the implant or implants. Your dentist makes a small incision in the gum to expose your jawbone. They then use a special bone drill to penetrate the bone, creating space for embedding the dental implant.
A temporary crown or denture may be fitted over the gap, covering the surgical site as you recover.
Osseointegration and healing period
Post-surgery recovery usually takes around two weeks. However, osseointegration can take anywhere from two to six months. Bone fusion is necessary for the implant to gain the load-bearing requirements of a permanent dental implant. Once the osseointegration is complete, your implant is ready for the abutment attachment.
Inserting the abutment
Attaching the abutment is a relatively straightforward procedure. However, it involves reopening the surgical site, so you’ll require another two to three weeks of healing time once it is screwed into place. The gum tissue heals around the abutment, leaving one end of the attachment exposed for attaching the dental crown or bridge.
Completing the restoration
The final step is to attach the crown, bridge, or dentures. At Owens Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, we use metal-free ceramic crowns. These are virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth, providing a natural-looking finish. Once the restoration is complete, you can immediately enjoy your restored smile and renewed self-confidence.
Caring for Dental Implants
Our dental implants are durable and long-lasting, requiring the same maintenance as your natural teeth. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits keep your implants in good condition. Other tips for looking after dental implants include:
- Avoid eating hard or sticky foods
- Don’t smoke and limit your alcohol intake
- Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Limit your intake of acidic and sugary foods and drinks
- Avoid nail biting
Contact Owens Cosmetic and Family Dentistry for Dental Implant Services
Whether you need a single implant to replace a missing tooth or replacements for a complete upper or lower arch, consider dental implant treatment at Owens Cosmetic and Family Dentistry.
Dr. Owens is a skilled dentist with extensive experience who can help you achieve the confident smile you’ve always desired.
Don’t let missing teeth affect your confidence. Take the first step toward your smile transformation by scheduling a consultation and find out if you are a candidate for implants.