A dental implant is an artificial titanium screw that looks much like a tooth root that Dr. Babin places into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge or denture. Dental implants are an ideal option for people in good general oral health who have lost a tooth or teeth due to gum disease, an injury, or some other reason.
While high-tech in nature, dental implants are actually more tooth-saving than traditional bridgework, since implants do not rely on neighboring teeth for support. Dental implants also act to preserve your natural jaw bone, as opposed to bridges, which are associated with bone loss in any of the missing teeth areas.
Dental implants are so natural-looking and feeling, you may forget you ever lost a tooth. You know that your confidence about your teeth affects how you feel about yourself, both personally and professionally. Perhaps you hide your smile because of spaces from missing teeth. Maybe your dentures don’t feel secure. Perhaps you have difficulty chewing. If you are missing one or more teeth and would like to smile, speak and eat again with comfort and confidence, there is good news! Dental implants look and feel just like your own teeth!
What Dental Implants Can Do
- Replace one or more teeth without affecting bordering teeth
- Support a bridge and eliminate the need for a removable partial denture
- Provide support for a denture, making it more secure and comfortable, while ensuring the bone under the denture is not lost over time. Maintaining bone for comfortable denture wear throughout your lifetime is an important point we often forget
- Important point to remember – whenever a tooth is lost, the bone in that area continues to be lost, with more bone loss each successive year. An implant is the only way to stop the progression of that bone loss
Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Implants
1. How will I know if I am a candidate for dental implants?
An implant exam and consultation will evaluate your mouth with a clinical exam and digital x-rays in order to determine your potential for implants. This exam will also be where you can discuss what type of implant replacement will work best for you. The x-rays will show Dr. Babin how much bone is present in the locations where you will need implants placed. In some cases an additional x-ray, called a CT Scan, may be necessary to accurately show the quality, density and amount of bone present.
2. How long can implants last?
Different long term research studies have shown that implants which have been placed in good bone can last for a patient’s lifetime. However, some implants can fail if the quality of the bone wasn’t good, if there was too much bite stress for too few implants or if patients aren’t careful to properly clean around the implants.
3. Why is there a 3-6 month waiting period before the implants can be built upon?
In order to insure the success of the implant(s) there is the need to allow time for your jaw bone to grow around the implants and to attach to the bone by a process called osseointegration. The length of time for this waiting period varies with the quality of bone that is present where the implants were placed.
4. Is there any pain when the implants are placed?
There should be very little to no pain when the implants are placed. In most cases, a local anesthetic (like lidocaine) is all that is needed. You may be instructed to take ibuprofen (Advil) for a few days following the implant surgery. Our patients often tell us they needed no medication, as there was no discomfort.
5. Once I have implants placed and built upon, do I have to clean around them?
Yes! If you don’t clean around the implants, you can develop gum disease. Gum disease can lead to the failure of the implants if it is not treated before too much bone has been destroyed.
6. How will I clean around the implants?
Brushing with a toothbrush, as well as flossing are important. There may be the need for a prescription mouth rinse, which can further help you keep your implants healthy. Electric toothbrushes can also be helpful for cleaning around implants. Other cleaning aids may be recommended where the specific needs of your case require them. You will still be required to seek regular professional cleanings and check-ups to insure your gums are staying healthy and no problems go unnoticed.