WHAT ARE DENTAL IMPLANTS?
Permanent solution for tooth loss
Dental implants represent a common procedure of permanently replacing missing teeth without affecting neighboring teeth.
With the help of dental implants, we can fully remedy a toothless mouth and thus strongly improve chewing and speaking abilities as well as restore a beautiful smile. Implants can also serve as carriers of a fixed dental bridge or denture.
Dental implant surgery is a procedure that replaces tooth roots with metal, screw-like posts and replaces damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and function much like real ones. Dental implant surgery can offer a welcome alternative to dentures or bridgework that doesn't fit well and can offer an option when a lack of natural teeth roots don't allow building denture or bridgework tooth replacements.
How dental implant surgery is performed depends on the type of implant and the condition of your jawbone. Dental implant surgery may involve several procedures. The major benefit of implants is solid support for your new teeth — a process that requires the bone to heal tightly around the implant. Because this bone healing requires time, the process can take many months.
Why it's done
Dental implants are surgically placed in your jawbone, where they serve as the roots of missing teeth. Because the titanium in the implants fuses with your jawbone, the implants won't slip, make noise or cause bone damage the way fixed bridgework or dentures might. And the materials can't decay like your own teeth that support regular bridgework can.
In general, dental implants may be right for you if you:
- Have one or more missing teeth
- Have a jawbone that's reached full growth
- Have adequate bone to secure the implants or are able to have a bone graft
- Have healthy oral tissues
- Don't have health conditions that will affect bone healing
- Are unable or unwilling to wear dentures
- Want to improve your speech
- Are willing to commit several months to the process
- Don't smoke tobacco
Like any surgery, dental implant surgery poses some health risks. Problems are rare, though, and when they do occur they're usually minor and easily treated. Risks include:
- Infection at the implant site
- Injury or damage to surrounding structures, such as other teeth or blood vessels
- Nerve damage, which can cause pain, numbness or tingling in your natural teeth, gums, lips or chin
- Sinus problems, when dental implants placed in the upper jaw protrude into one of your sinus cavities
What you can expect
Dental implant surgery is usually an outpatient surgery performed in stages, with healing time between procedures. The process of placing a dental implant involves multiple steps, including:
- Damaged tooth removal
- Jawbone preparation (grafting), when needed
- Dental implant placement
- Bone growth and healing
- Abutment placement
- Artificial tooth placement
The entire process can take many months from start to finish. Much of that time is devoted to healing and waiting for the growth of new bone in your jaw. Depending on your situation, the specific procedure done or the materials used, certain steps can sometimes be combined.
After the procedure
Whether you have dental implant surgery in one stage or multiple stages, you may experience some of the typical discomforts associated with any type of dental surgery, such as:
- Swelling of your gums and face
- Bruising of your skin and gums
- Pain at the implant site
- Minor bleeding
You may need pain medications or antibiotics after dental implant surgery. If swelling, discomfort or any other problem gets worse in the days after surgery, contact your doctor.
After each stage of surgery, you may need to eat soft foods while the surgical site heals. Typically, your dentist will use stitches that dissolve on their own. If your stitches aren't self-dissolving, your doctor removes them.
Most dental implants are successful. Sometimes, however, the bone fails to fuse sufficiently to the metal implant. Smoking, for example, may contribute to implant failure and complications.
If the bone fails to fuse sufficiently, the implant is removed, the bone is cleaned up, and you can try the procedure again in about three months.
You can help your dental work — and remaining natural teeth — last longer if you:
- Practice excellent oral hygiene. Just as with your natural teeth, keep implants, artificial teeth and gum tissue clean. Specially designed brushes, such as an interdental brush that slides between teeth, can help clean the nooks and crannies around teeth, gums and metal posts.
- See your dentist regularly. Schedule dental checkups to ensure the health and proper functioning of your implants and follow the advice for professional cleanings.
- Avoid damaging habits. Don't chew hard items, such as ice and hard candy, which can break your crowns — or your natural teeth. Avoid tooth-staining tobacco and caffeine products. Get treatment if you grind your teeth.
We accept all major credit cards, For your convenience we also arrange in house financing, and offer payment plans with the use of Care Credit.
South Florida Dental Center is considered in network with many different insurance providers. Contact the office at 954-755-7971 to ask if your insurance is accepted.