At one time only option for people that had lost a tooth or several teeth to disease or injury was to ask their dentist for dentures. Bridges came later, and finally the implant was born. Dental implants gave new life to replacement teeth. Thanks to advances in dental technology people that choose dental implants may never have anyone be able to tell that the teeth are not natural. We at Cowden Family Dental know that natural smiles are the best smiles.
What Are Dental Implants?
When people think of dental implants they often believe that the teeth are screwed directly into the bone. This is a basic understanding, but the reality is more complicated in practice. The implant itself is screwed into the bone. This portion of the device is designed to fuse into the bone of the jaw eventually. It may take some time depending on the patient’s body. Sometimes there can be problems but the majority of dental implants are successful. The ‘screw’ has an opening where another screw is joined to the implant, this is called an abutment screw. It connects the next part, the abutment, to the implant. To the abutment a tooth is attached. Teeth are built by a professional and made to match the original teeth of the patient as closely as possible. The tooth is called a crown.
Why Dental Implants?
You may wonder why you would choose implants over another type of prosthesis. The answer is quite simple – comfort and longevity. When the implant fuses to the bone, it is as secure, if not more so, than the natural root.
Many people may lose only one tooth, in this case putting in an implant makes more sense than trying to fit a bridge or going without the tooth. If you lose more than one tooth implants can help you eat and speak more naturally than with dentures. The implants feel like your natural teeth, they also look like the teeth you were born with. No one can tell that they are ‘fake’.
Implants are not useful for just replacing one or two teeth. An entire arch of teeth (all teeth in the mouth) can be restored using implants. Every tooth can be replaced using an implant for each or the surgeon may decide to use implants to anchor a bridge of teeth. This may be a fixed partial denture. These can be fitted to never move or so that you can push a section and remove them for cleaning.
Cleaning and Care
After care is typically the same as with any other oral surgery. Your oral surgeon will advise how to properly care for the implants. The healing time for initial implant can vary. This time depends on your particular healing speed (normal body response), how many teeth are still in the mouth, and if any infection was present.
Cleaning of implants, once teeth are installed is the same as for natural teeth. You should brush, floss, and take care of your gums as if the teeth were your originals. While the teeth will not develop cavities, you can still have gum disease and periodontal disease. Implants are not a guarantee against disease.
The crowns will discolor over the years and most need to be replaced every ten years. The actual timetable may be much different. Every person has a different load on their teeth – stress from eating, grinding teeth, and foods or beverages consumed. Connections for fixed dentures will need to be replaced every so often. This will depend on the same factors as with the crowns.
Risks of Dental Implants
There are risks to every oral procedure. The most common during surgery is injury to the bone or gums, and bleeding. After the surgery there are risks of infection, bleeding, and breakdown of the gum flaps or sutures. Your oral surgeon can counsel you according to your individual needs.
A significant risk associated with implants is the failure of the implant to integrate. This means that the bone does not fuse to the implant. When this happens the surgeon may need to graft bone. A bit of bone is taken from a donor area and ground, then applied during surgery around the implant. The properties of the metal used in the implant are unique, as titanium was found to actually fuse with bone. The texture of the surface allow even better stability than in the past.
While there are risks with implants, the overall incident is low for most healthy patients. If you have healthy bones in the mouth (jawbone), healthy gums, and general good condition of the body, you can expect good results usually.
At Cowden Family Dental we believe that your total smile is a mix of preventative care and restorative care. Should you be considering dental implants we’d love to talk to you about it. Call Today: (505) 867-3999 to schedule a consultation.