If you are missing one or more of your teeth, you are likely looking for a solution to the problem and have heard of dental implants. In addition to giving you back the ability to truly smile, there are other benefits associated with teeth implants. Missing teeth can lead to severe oral health issues. Your other teeth may shift, causing problems with bite alignment. Missing teeth can also lead to jawbone deterioration, which can cause the loss of more teeth.
Thankfully, an implant can be a tooth replacement solution for many who are missing a tooth or even several. This restorative dentistry procedure replaces both the tooth and the root, for a durable and long-lasting option that restores the functionality of your root and tooth.
Dental implants can be an excellent choice for many but are not perfect for everyone. We will look at the procedure, along with what determines if you are a good implant dentistry candidate. We will also look at the recovery process, in case you choose this type of dentistry procedure for yourself.
Types of Dental Implants Available
There are a few different implant options, depending on the number of teeth that are missing. These include single-tooth, multi-tooth, upper arch, lower arch, and full arch procedures. Mini implants may also be used for smaller teeth, including incisors. This type of implant is narrower than a traditional implant and is perfect for those who need a pre-molar tooth stabilized.
Dental Implant Basics
The actual implant is a titanium screw, which is a durable and long-lasting metal. This is inserted into your jaw and will be used to stabilize a crown or prosthetic tooth. In some cases, one implant may be used to anchor more than one crown. Dental implants can be installed by a dental implant specialist to help with replacing a tooth, anchoring dentures, anchoring dental bridges, replacing several teeth, and maintaining the jawbone.
Benefits of Dental Implants
When it comes to dental implants, they have many advantages over the alternatives, including bridges and dentures. We will look at a few of those now:
Preservation of facial appearance
A dental implant will prevent bone loss in your jaw, eliminating the possibility of a sunken looking face, something that is common when you are missing teeth.
Unlike alternatives, dental implants look and feel like natural teeth. They will be all but undetectable to others as they are a permanent restoration option.
Improved oral hygiene
Dentures can be uncomfortable due to being removable and moving around in the mouth. Dental implants that have been put in by a dentist in Upper East Side will have no discomfort, as they are a permanent choice built in a solid way.
There’s less upkeep to worry about when choosing implants over dentures.
When dentures are poorly fitted, they can lead to speech issues when they slip. Dental implants do not have this problem and eliminate the speech issues seen with dentures.
Other dental restoration options may last a few years, but dental implants are built to last for life. There’s no more worrying about when your dentures will break or require replacing.
With dentures, they can slide around the mouth. However, dental implants function like natural teeth so you can continue to eat your favorite dishes.
Candidacy for Dental Implants.
There are a few things to consider when it comes to being a candidate for implants. Ideal implant candidates will be able to check off each of the following criteria:
- Have enough bone density to support the implant
- Have healthy gums and teeth
- Are committed to good oral hygiene
- Do not suffer from autoimmune disorders or uncontrolled diabetes, which have an impact on healing ability
- Have not had treatment with bisphosphonate medications (these are often used for cancer treatment)
- Are non-smoking or willing to stop smoking during the implant process
- Understand the length of time required and are prepared to commit to it
As we mention elsewhere, having sufficient bone structure in the jaw is very important as a criterion because it means your jaw can accommodate the implant. Those with a lack of jawbone density may find an implant cannot handle the forces of chewing, which can lead to an implant that fails.
A bone graft may be an option to add to the bone density for some people. When you consult with an Upper East Side dental implant specialist, they will let you know if a graft would be needed.
Another common issue when it comes to dental implant candidacy is gum disease. Gum disease can be one of the primary reasons for losing a tooth. If you have gum disease, that is something that must be treated before a dental implant procedure can be undertaken.
Even if you are not an ideal candidate, there is likely something that can be done to provide you with the healthy and happy smile you desire. Our Upper East Side dentists can help you work through the options to ensure you choose the procedure that works best for you.
Process of Installing Dental Implants
Dental implant surgery is done in several stages and can take from four to nine months to complete correctly. If a bone graft is needed, it may take even longer than this. It is a process that requires patience, but the end result is worth the time. Dental implants are the most long-lasting and efficient way to replace missing teeth.
If there is not enough bone density available, a bone graft may be required before getting dental implants. During the graft, the sterile bone particulate is usually used, although sometimes bone from another part of your body may be transplanted into your jawbone. This procedure alone can take four to nine months before the dental implant process can ensue.
At this time, a titanium dental implant is placed surgically into your jawbone. After this, you will heal for three to six months before the procedure continues. This allows your jawbone to fuse to the implant, making it a permanent structure that acts as a tooth root.
After this process is complete, your Upper East Side implant dentist will have you come back into the office to have a titanium post attached to the implant. This will stick out just above the gum and hold your new tooth or implant crown.
There is more healing after this is complete, typically anywhere from one to two weeks. Once your gums are all healed up, you will return to the office to have the prosthetic tooth put in.
At William Schlesinger, DDS, we will then make an impression of your mouth and any natural teeth remaining. This will then be used to make your prosthetic tooth. We can adjust the color, shape, and size of the tooth to match your nearby teeth. This ensures that you will have the most natural smile possible when the procedure is over. At this time, a dental implants specialist will attach the tooth to your implant and surgery will be complete.
Recovering from Dental Implant Surgery
It is common to experience some amount of soreness or bleeding from the gums in the first days and weeks following a dental implant. This is simply because the implants need time to heal. However, if symptoms come back after the healing process, it could be a sign of a more serious problem, like periodontal disease or peri-implantitis. Here are symptoms to watch out for.
- Sensitive or bleeding gums
- Gums that are receding around the implant
- Inflammation around the implant
- An implant that feels loose
- Trouble chewing with the implant
- Roughness or scratches on the implant surface.
If these symptoms appear a few weeks after the implant surgical procedure, it is time to speak with an implant dentist quickly. We are available to help for those located on the Upper East Side. However, be aware that gum disease typically does not cause pain until it is advanced, so you should make sure you are going in for regular dental cleanings to catch any issues early.
If it is an infection in the gums, we will treat it with root planing and scaling, which are the same techniques used with gum disease. The difference is that special instruments made of plastic are used to avoid damaging the surface of the implant.
Although it is very rare, you may also find you have pain due to traumatic occlusion. This happens when the implant has too much force reaching it from a nearby tooth, which can occur if the implant is longer than the other teeth or because it is misaligned. If this is the case, the dental implant specialist will perform a realignment so that the tooth receives less pressure.
Caring for Your Dental Implants
We suggest that you only drink cold liquids for the first 24 hours after implantation and that you avoid eating until the anesthetic has worn off. You should also avoid any strenuous exercise for about 48 hours. We also ask that you avoid running your tongue over the affected area as much as is possible.
Swelling may be present but should relax after two to three days. If needed, you may apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel for discomfort. However, only do this for 10 minutes at a time, after which you should take a break of at least 20 minutes.
There should not be any significant pain, which means the pain will typically be managed with over the counter medications. If pain or swelling increases after 72 hours, be sure to get in touch with your dentist.
Dental Cleaning & Maintenance
After receiving your dental implant, you want to be sure you brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. There are some additional tools that you may want to add to your oral hygiene routine. These include tablets that show plaque on the teeth, antimicrobial mouthwash, and inter-dental brushes.
When getting a cleaning from a dentist, you will notice we use special tools to avoid scratching your implant. If you have recently received an implant, you should go in regularly for a cleaning. For the first year after having the implant placed, you will want to schedule a cleaning with us about every three months to ensure plaque does not build up around your implant.
It is also important to know that dental implants are similar to teeth but do have differences. The fibers of your gums hold natural teeth by growing into them, but implants can only grow into the jawbone at the bottom of the implant. If you have healthy gums, that will hold them in place. However, the gums will not integrate in the same way as they would with natural teeth.
This also means that infection is easier to succumb to with an implant, putting you at risk for periodontal disease if the tissue is not kept clean. Peri-implantitis is also possible, which infects the bone around the implant. The best way to avoid these problems is by having regular dentist appointments and keeping watch over the area around the implant.
Schedule an Appointment with Dr. Schlesinger Today
If you are looking into dental implants because you have lost a tooth, contact us at William Schlesinger, DDS to make an appointment. You can give us a call at 212-517-4660 or fill out our online contact form. We would love to further educate you on the dental implant process and help you determine if this choice is right for you.