Considering Dental Implants from Your Dentist? Implants 101

teeth with two dental implants from dentist

 

If you have missing teeth, you might wonder what our dentist can do. Missing teeth can affect a lot of things, including the appearance of your smile, your confidence, and even your jaw bone. One option to help with missing teeth is dental implant treatment. This helps improve the function and look of your smile if you have missing teeth!

What are Dental Implants?

So, what are dental implants? Dental implants are essentially like a prosthetic for your teeth. They’re made out of metal, like titanium, to mimic tooth roots. These are implanted into your jaw, and then a crown or bridge is typically placed on top to help fill gaps between your teeth and help you chew and speak normally. They can help beautify your smile without the hassle of removing them for cleaning or those telltale clicking noises that come with dentures. Also, they can help reduce the risk of bone loss in your jaw from missing teeth, which is why our dentist may recommend them. 

Difference between Implants, Veneers, and Crowns

teeth with two dental implants from dentist
To place dental implants, the dentist surgically places an implant beneath your gums and attaches a realistic looking crown on top.

There’s a little bit of confusion on the difference between implants, veneers, and crowns. Implants go directly into the jaw bone to replace missing teeth, lost from things like injury, infection, or decay. As we’ve mentioned, they include a metal implant that goes underneath the gums and into the jaw bone and are topped with a crown, which is essentially a replacement tooth made of ceramic. 

A crown, while often part of a dental implant, is simply a fake tooth made of porcelain or ceramic. When you think of getting a dental crown, you’re likely thinking of a procedure where the dentist reshapes the tooth and cements the crown on top with a special dental adhesive. This is usually because the tooth is too badly damaged to save with dental fillers. 

Veneers are a type of cosmetic addition to your teeth. They’re made of ceramic and are placed in front of your normal teeth. These are used to help improve the look of your smile for things like chips, stains, and more. They won’t work for missing teeth because they adhere to your natural teeth.

Why Might My Dentist Recommend Dental Implants?

There are many reasons why a family dentistry professional might recommend implants for your situation. If you have missing teeth, implants are often the preferred type of restoration. Why? Because they feel, look, and act like natural teeth and can help stop jaw bone loss. 

For missing teeth, there are generally only a few options to choose from, such as dentures, bridges, and implants. Implants help not only improve the appearance of your smile when you’re missing teeth, but can also 

Anyone with missing teeth can experience bone loss in their jaw. While it may be a silent and painless process, it can have pretty big consequences. For example, bone loss in your jaw can cause your teeth to move or put you at a higher risk for losing more teeth. In addition, over time, bone loss in your jaw can affect the appearance of your face. 

Some appearance-based symptoms of bone loss include:

  • A more pointed chin
  • Weak face muscles
  • Wrinkling around the mouth
  • Thinning lips

Essentially, bone loss in your jaw can make you look older than you are. Since dental implants help prevent bone loss, they may also help you avoid these facial changes. 

Let’s look at why implants help prevent bone loss in your jaw. Normally, the roots of your teeth connect to the jaw bone. The pressure of using your teeth for things like chewing helps improve blood flow and nutrient flow to your jaw bone. Over time, the lack of pressure leads to your jaw losing out on these things and, eventually, leads to bone loss. 

Benefits of Implants vs. Dentures

Unlike dental implants, dentures sit on top of the gums to help improve the appearance of your smile. These can replace the look of your natural teeth, but you typically remove them at night for cleaning and to rest your gums.

While dentures used to be the most common way to correct missing teeth, they are slowly becoming the less preferred method. Once again, this is because they don’t put the necessary pressure on the jaw bone, so they don’t help stop bone loss due to missing teeth. 

Also, dentures come with some other disadvantages, such as:

  • They don’t look as natural as implants
  • You must remove and clean them each night
  • They can slip and make clicking noises
  • It can be difficult to eat and talk with dentures
  • They can increase the risk of gum disease due to trapped food
  • You need to replace them frequently
  • No eating hard or sticky foods
  • They can weaken your surrounding teeth because they rely on them for support

Now, in some cases dentures may be the right option for you. In some cases you may even opt for dentures as a temporary solution, such as to allow yourself to heal after a tooth extraction before beginning the dental implant process. 

However, implants offer some distinct benefits over dentures, including:

  • Ease of care (similar to caring for natural teeth)
  • Natural look
  • Easier to eat and speak
  • Jaw bone preservation
  • Long-lasting replacement for missing teeth

Because of these dental implant benefits, many people today opt for dental implants instead of dentures.

How Does My Dentist Perform the Dental Implants Procedure?

It’s important to understand that dental implant treatment is a bit of a process. The dental implant procedure is personalized to your specific situation. So, you need to work with your dentist to determine whether implants are right for you and what to expect.

How Long Do Dental Implants Take?

As we’ve mentioned, dental implants are highly customized to you. So, how long it takes from start to finish varies based on your specific situation. However, generally the dental implant procedure takes about three to six months. The reason for this is that, after surgery, your jaw bone needs to heal and fuse to the metal implant before attaching the new crown. 

How long the procedure itself takes also depends on a few different factors, but generally it’s about one or two hours per implant. Now, remember, in many cases one implant can support a bridge or denture to help fill the gap for multiple teeth. So, it’s unlikely you’ll need 32 implants for full mouth dental implants. Therefore, you likely won’t be in surgery for 32 hours if you’re getting implants for all your teeth. However, for specifics for your situation, talk to our dentist about how the procedure will work for you.

The Implant Procedure

When you get dental implants, you’ll need to go through a couple of different steps. Generally, the first step involves placing the implant. This is a surgery where we drill into the jaw bone to place the metal implant. Then, we wait until the jaw bone fuses around the implant.

After, we may need to attach the abutment (the piece that holds the new crown) to your implant. However, in other cases the abutment is already included in the implant. This all depends on your specific situation. 

If you have another procedure to attach the abutment to the implant, then you’ll need some time to let your gums heal before we place the crown on the implant. This is generally about two weeks, but, once again, it depends on your individual case.

Talk to the Dentist About Caring for Your Dental Implants

After you’re all healed, it’s important to take proper care of your implants! Implants can last as long as 25-30 years with good care. Also, improper care could cause other dental health issues that put you at risk. For example, while the implant can’t get cavities, your natural teeth still can. Even if you have full mouth dental implants, improper care can lead to inflammation and infection of your gums, which can even cause implant failure.

Luckily, caring for your dental implants is similar to caring for your natural teeth. You need to brush two to three times a day with a soft bristle toothbrush and a low or non abrasive toothpaste. Flossing is also important to help reduce plaque buildup between the implants. However, in most cases you may need to change up your flossing habits. Normal dental floss can shred or leave particles behind. These can cause inflammation or infections if they get stuck between your gums and your implant. Instead, we’ll help you find the right solutions for you. For example, many people start using a water flosser, while others choose interdental brushes. 

In addition, it’s important to continue seeing the dentist on a regular basis for checkups and professional cleanings. Continuing your bi-annual dental appointments is important, whether you have one implant or a whole mouth of them.

Caring, Personalized Family Dentistry from The ToothBooth

When you need a dentist near me in Katy, TX, our team at The ToothBooth is here for you! Dr. Taha offers years of experience and specialized training to provide a wide range of family dentistry services, including things like oral surgery, dental implant treatment, and more. We’re here to help you improve your smile, whether you need a regular cleaning or major restorative work. Call us now at (832) 437-0841 to book an appointment at our dental office today!