All About Dental Implants: The Jaw-Dropping Facts
A healthy mouth is just as important to your overall health as diet and exercise are. Missing teeth don't just affect your physical health: tooth loss can impact your emotional health, lowering your self esteem, and even cause isolation because of embarrassment. Dental implants aren't just used for cosmetic reasons; they're also used for restoration.
Think of a dental implant as a kind of prosthetic tooth. There are many misconceptions about dental implants, what they are, what the dental implant procedure involves, and questions about whether the expense is worth it. We're going to set the record straight and provide you with all the jaw-dropping facts you need to know about dental implants.
How Dental Implants Are Used
When you have a tooth surgically removed, the oral surgeon or dentist doesn't just remove the tooth; they go into your gum and bone where the tooth roots are anchored and remove that, and the entire tooth structure. If a root canal was done on the tooth before it is ultimately removed, the roots were already removed.
If you are seeking a permanent replacement for your missing tooth or teeth, your MA cosmetic dentist may suggest dental implants. After extraction, you may be fitted with a “flipper,” or a temporary removable retainer-like device that covers the exposed area. You won't have to feel embarrassed that people can see the missing tooth or teeth.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is different from a typical crown. The crown sits on the gum line. What makes a dental implant different is that a long tapered cylinder-shaped post is surgically implanted into your jawbone where the missing teeth roots used to be. The post becomes the support that anchors the rest of the tooth part. That anchor turns the entire implant into a prosthetic tooth.
The Importance of Bone Structure
Since your dentist has to surgically implant a titanium post into your jawbone, before doing anything, he or she will decide whether your existing bone is strong and healthy enough to support the post. When you loose teeth in the back of the top of your mouth, the bone that supported the teeth starts to deteriorate, while your sinus cavity expands. If this is the case, bone grafting is done to replace the lost bone and create a strong enough bone structure to support the implant.
Bone grafting sounds a lot scarier than it really is. Your doctor will do it right in the office, and you'll be numbed up so you don't feel anything. If you have to undergo bone grafting, your MA dentist will probably advise you to stick to a soft diet until the graft fuses to your bone. You don't want to do anything to endanger the rest of the process.
Three Parts of a Complete Prosthetic Tooth
Part One – The Dental Implant
This is the titanium post that your MA dentist places in your jawbone. Because you no longer have the tooth roots, the post is essentially the prosthetic tooth roots.
Part Two – The Abutment
When you have a crown placed on an actual tooth, you still have part of the tooth structure on top of your gum. After a tooth is extracted, there is no longer anything there. The abutment is attached to the post to create an even more secure anchor for the crown that replaces the tooth.
Part Three – The Crown
If you've ever had a crown before, you know that it looks like a tooth replacement. An implant crown is a prosthetic tooth that is made from a mold of your mouth, so it is customized to fit into your mouth, and look like the tooth it replaces.
Same Day or Immediate Load Implants
Same Day Implants are one of the alternative techniques that dental implant experts can do. If you have to have bone augmentation, this is not an option for you. Your MA cosmetic dentist will talk to you about this option, if your mouth can handle it. You will have the titanium post implanted, just as anyone else would.
With this process, your doctor will take an impression of your mouth to make a temporary crown. The crown will sit on the implant, and you can live pretty normally while the implant fuses to your bone. If you are a good candidate for this, the process is much shorter. You should be done with everything in about three months.
If you lose several teeth, your MA dentist may suggest a bridge as an option. It looks and functions like a non-implant-anchored bridge, but it a much better, more permanent solution than a traditional bridge. Your doctor will decide where to put implants and how to connect them to the rest of the missing teeth. If you lose three teeth, you'll probably have two implants.The bridge would likely be made by connecting a solid crown to the two crowns supported by the implants.
Over time, the anchor teeth that support the burden of the crown suffer from the stress and wear and tear. That can lead to serious infections, and worse. You may even have to have the bridge removed and the teeth extracted. An implant bridge is unlikely to cause these problems.
Full Arch or All Teeth
Dental technology has come a long way. People who lost all their teeth used to have only one option – a set of full dentures. If your dentist determines that you're a candidate for a full arch – either on the top or bottom, you will find out how many implants you need, and how the teeth will be attached or connected. It may be a bridge (mentioned above,) or individual teeth. You will get either temporary crowns or a temporary removable device to wear until your mouth is ready for the rest of the process.
Many insurance companies cover the dental implant procedure, however, they don't cover them at 100%, and you will easily use up your coverage for the year. Talk to your insurance company to find out exactly how much they cover. If you're concerned about the cost of implants, consider this.
Dental implants are the closest prosthetic dental device to your own teeth. A less expensive procedure may take care of things now, but there's no guarantee that you won't have problems in ten years, or that you suffer from complications from the beating your teeth take. Think of the cost of implants as an investment in the health of your mouth. Talk to your cosmetic dentist to find out whether a dental implant procedure is right for you.
Image Credit: gwilmore