What is a dental implant?
Dental implants are best described as artificial tooth roots, very similar in design and shape to screws. If a tooth or multiple teeth are missing, a dental implant can be placed in your jawbone where they bond with your natural bone. They replace each missing tooth root to become a sturdy base for supporting one or more artificial teeth, called crowns.
Modern dental implants have been used successfully for over 30 years. They are the strongest devices available to support replacement teeth, allowing these new teeth to feel, look and function naturally. When performed by a trained and experienced dental implant dentist, dental implant surgery is one of the safest and most predictable procedures in dentistry.
Best solution for missing teeth
Because the titanium implant posts are surgically placed in the jawbone, they provide the most durable, stable, and long-lasting support for dental restorations currently available. There are many advantages:
- Dental implants are such close replicas of natural teeth, eating habits remain unchanged.
- The feel, function, and appearance of implant teeth are almost exactly like those of natural teeth.
- Implant crowns are not bonded or attached to other teeth, allowing replacement of spaces without damage to the surrounding teeth.
- Leaving empty spaces in your mouth can lead to health issues over time, such as jawbone deterioration, also referred to as bone loss. Because dental implants stimulate the bone like natural teeth, they are known to prevent bone loss and preserve a natural, youthful look to the face.
- Providing a strong foundation, implants help patients experience improved chewing ability and give them the ability to eat without worrying about loose dentures.
- When speaking, enunciation and phonetics are vastly improved by dental implants because teeth are not loose or dislodged during movement.
- The documented long-term success rate of dental implants is well over 95%.
- Artificial teeth that can be cleaned and cared for just as the natural teeth.
What to expect
Dental implant placement usually involves the following steps:
- Initial consultation: The doctors at East Brainerd Dentistry will perform a detailed exam of your mouth, including X-rays and 3D images and a thorough medical history. Every implant case done at East Brainerd Dentistry is planned using 3D x-ray technology to ensure the highest standard of care. We will discuss the various implant options and develop a custom plan for your implant surgery.
- Dental implant placement: At your next scheduled appointment, your implant dentist will place the dental implant in your jawbone where your tooth is missing. Although each patient’s experience is unique, most people find they experience less pain and discomfort than they expected. Local anesthesia, Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and/or oral sedation can be used to keep you pain free and relaxed during the procedure. Great care is taken by our team to ensure each patient is as comfortable as possible during his or her surgery. Postoperative discomfort is similar to that of any other dental surgery and may include swelling, bruising or minor bleeding but usually only mild, over-the-counter medications are needed.
- Healing: As you heal, your implant and jawbone will fuse together in a process called osseointegration (os-e-o-in-tuh-GRAY-shun), forming a strong, long-lasting foundation for your replacement teeth. During this process, which usually will take 3-6 months, you go on with your normal life. You will be on a soft food diet for the first few weeks to make sure your implants heal properly. In some cases, your implant dentist may also be able to place temporary teeth during this period, if you choose.
- Restoration with your new tooth or teeth: Once your implant bonds with your jawbone, a custom made connector called an abutment is attached to the dental implant just above the gumline. This abutment is what connects and retains the new dental crown to your dental implant. Your dentist will make impressions or computer images of this abutment and the remaining teeth to custom-make your artificial tooth or teeth to fit your mouth. Although implants will not decay, your new teeth will need the same routine care, checkups and cleanings as your natural teeth.
- Periodic check ups: After your dental implant, abutment and crown are completed, you’ll visit your dental implant dentist periodically for follow-up checkups and regular dental cleanings.
Are dental implants right for you?
An oral exam and relaxed consultation with Dr. Crow or Dr. Hooper is the best way to determine if a patient is a good candidate for dental implants. For our patients in Chattanooga, TN, dental implants are generally recommended for candidates who meet the following requirements:
- Healthy gums
- Sufficient dimensions of jawbone.
- Commitment to maintaining the dental implants and restorations through routine home care and regular dental cleanings.
- Willingness to undergo oral surgery
Patients who are not good candidates can be given alternative treatment options, such as dental bridges or dentures, depending on each individual’s needs.