What is a dental implant?
The name dental implant actually comes from the anchor portion of the prosthetic, the implant. Implants are made of titanium and are shaped like a screw. They are screwed down into the hole formerly occupied by the tooth root. Atop the implant a post is attached and an artificial tooth atop that. The three parts make up the dental implant. Once in place, a dental implant functions, feels, and looks just like a natural tooth.
What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
The dental implant treatment process doesn’t just restore the appearance of your smile, it enables you to reclaim your fullest, most natural oral health. There are numerous significant benefits that come from getting dental implants. They all stem from the replacement of missing teeth roots. Your implants act as new roots and they hold lifelike artificial teeth. This restores your appearance. Your implants also rest within the jawbone, where they become encased in your bone tissue over time. This aspect of treatment restores nearly 100 percent of your natural-feeling chewing function.
While we could list many benefits of dental implants, the best way to describe this treatment is as one that reinstates everything that was useful and attractive about your natural smile. In that, the process can foster a stronger sense of confidence in your smile.
What Problems Do Dental Implants Fix?
Dental implants are designed for tooth replacement; but, not just tooth replacement, root replacement, too! This can fix several potential problems and may even prevent some. The obvious problem that dental implants fix is tooth loss. This treatment can be used as a more permanent alternative to a dental bridge and it may also be used in conjunction with full dentures.
Replacing teeth in the mouth, dental implants can reestablish functional chewing and comfort when eating and speaking. By stabilizing replacement teeth, implants can correct the discomfort and sores that may occur due to ill-fitting dentures.
Because dental implants are situated in the jawbone, they also help to slow or prevent excessive bone loss. Naturally, your roots would take care of stimulating ongoing bone regeneration throughout your lifetime. Without roots, there is no stimulation for this process. That is, unless you have dental implants.
Why should I replace a missing tooth?
People think missing teeth are simply a cosmetic issue, and if the missing tooth isn’t in an obvious location, they often opt to not replace the tooth or teeth. Beyond the cosmetic issues of a gap in your teeth, this can lead to various dental problems:
- The teeth surrounding the missing tooth or teeth no longer have pressure on them to stay in place, so they slide over into the gap. This movement can change your bite and overall alignment.
- When you chew or bite, a good deal of force in involved. The tooth takes this energy and transfers it down the tooth into the jawbone beneath. This energy signals the jawbone to build new bone mass, keeping it healthy. When a tooth is missing, that energy doesn’t enter the jawbone and it begins to deteriorate. Over time, this leads to a sunken appearance in the area as the jawbone collapses inward.
- A missing molar can keep a person from eating certain foods, due to the difficulty in chewing them. This can lead to nutritional issues.
- Missing teeth can create whistling sounds when speaking.
Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?
If you are missing one tooth or several, you may be a good candidate for dental implant treatment. If you’ve worn dentures for years and would like to regain better stability for chewing and speaking, you may be a good candidate for dental implants. You may even be a good candidate if you’ve experienced periodontal disease and some degree of bone resorption due to tooth loss!
Dr. Ania is here to help you rediscover your best smile. A thorough consultation and examination of your current oral structure will help you understand what is possible for you, and how you may improve your treatment success through necessary lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding tobacco use. Contact our Boulder, CO office at 303-443-0998 today to schedule your dental implant consultation!
What is the procedure for placing a dental implant?
Having an implant placed is not a one-visit process. This is because the implant must be allowed to become a part of the jawbone, and this takes time. Once Dr. Ania deems you’re a good candidate, here’s how the process goes.
The implant process involves four distinct steps:
- Implant placement — Dr. Ania first anesthetizes you. Then she exposes the jawbone. If needed, she drills a tiny hole into the socket that held the former tooth root. Now the titanium implant is screwed down into the socket.
- Osseointegration — The second step is what separates implants from other replacement options. Once the implant is placed, the jawbone is allowed to grow around the implant, making it part of the jaw. This process, called osseointegration, takes from three to six months.
- Attaching the post — Once your jawbone has adopted the implant you return and we attach a post, called an abutment, to the implant. After the post is placed, we need to allow your gums to heal and settle around the post. This takes about six weeks.
- Attaching the false tooth — When your gums have healed, you’re ready to have the crown (false tooth) attached to the post. Dr. Ania uses only porcelain crowns in her Boulder practice, so you can rest assured your new tooth will beautifully match your surrounding teeth and provide unparalleled strength and durability. Once she attaches the crown, you can go out and immediately enjoy your new tooth.
Is there recovery involved with the dental implant process?
There are two recovery periods, but neither is difficult. The first recovery is after Dr. Ania makes the small incision in your gums to access your jawbone and place the implant base. She places a couple stitches and closes the incision when she is done. You’ll need to eat a soft diet for a couple weeks, but that’s about it. There isn’t a lot of pain.
The second “recovery” is after she attaches the post to the implant base. With the post in place, the gums need to settle down around the post and heal. Again, there will be a couple weeks with a soft diet, but the pain isn’t a big deal.
That’s it. There isn’t any recovery when she places the crown onto your implant.
Will Dental Implants Look Natural?
The natural appearance of the smile restored with dental implants is one of the many benefits of this treatment. Dental implants are not seen when you smile. They are situated fully beneath the gums and covered with a crown, bridge, or denture. In most cases, because the artificial teeth are affixed to the implant posts, there is no need for artificial gum tissue. What you see when you smile are your lifelike artificial teeth and your natural gums. You can’t get much more natural-looking than that!
What are the advantages of having a dental implant?
- Dental implants behave exactly like a natural tooth, so the patient can eat any foods and chew normally.
- Unlike bridges, where adjacent “abutment teeth” need to be crowned to anchor the bridge holding the false tooth or teeth, implants stand alone.
- Implants keep adjacent teeth from moving.
- Implants are load-bearing teeth, so you don’t have to avoid chewing or biting with them.
- Implants transfer energy down into the jawbone just as natural teeth do, helping to keep the jawbone regenerating and healthy.
- Implants have a 95% success rate and can last for decades, giving the patient back his or her smile and the ability to eat any foods.
Are dental implants covered by dental insurance?
As you know, insurance coverage can be very mixed depending on the carrier and your plan. Some plans cover implants and others do not. That doesn’t make sense considering how long implants last compared to a dental bridge, but it’s the way things currently stand in the dental world.
Some plans cover some of the cost, others do not. It’s best to check with your insurance provider beforehand. Our team at Dr. Ania’s works with insurance companies to garner the most coverage that we can.
How Many Teeth can be Replaced with Dental Implants?
A dental implant post can hold a single dental crown when needed. With strategic placement, it is also possible to secure an entire denture on four or six dental implants. Due to the innovative use of this dental restoration, you can replace all of your natural teeth via dental implant treatment.
How Do You Care for Dental Implants?
You care for dental implants the same way you care for your natural teeth. There may be a few exceptions based on the particulars of your case. For example, your dentist may advise you to brush using only a non-abrasive toothpaste and soft-bristled toothbrush. This way, there is minimal chance of causing micro-abrasions to your artificial teeth. In addition to brushing normally, you will also need to continue practicing excellent periodontal care after receiving dental implants. This is because advanced periodontal disease is one of the primary risk factors to implant failure.
When you consult with Dr. Ania about dental implants, you can expect to receive all of the information you need to know exactly what this treatment involves, what it can do for you, and how to maintain lifelong results.