What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are tooth replacements. A dental implant comprises two or three pieces: an artificial root, a restoration, and, usually, a connector piece called an abutment. The artificial root is most often made of titanium, and it’s placed in your jawbone. Your bone bonds to the root, making it part of the jaw. This is technically the only part that’s the implant, although we often use the term casually to refer to the entire three-part unit.
The restoration makes up the visible portion of the implant. It might be a single dental crown, a dental bridge that replaces multiple teeth, or a denture that replaces an entire arch of teeth (all the top or bottom teeth).
Although some dental implants connect directly to the restoration, most utilize a connector piece called an abutment.
Benefits of Dental Implants
In the more than 50 years since they were invented, dental implants have become widely recognized as the best tooth replacement option in almost every case. That’s because dental implants:
Most importantly for most people, dental implants let you bite and chew just as you did with natural teeth. That’s because they’re secured in the jawbone, similar to natural teeth. They can function just like natural teeth. Unlike traditional dentures, you don’t have to relearn how to eat and speak with dental implants.
In addition, dental implants can be beautiful and natural in their appearance. People will have difficulty picking out your dental implants when properly placed, even if they look closely.
Dental implants support themselves in your bone. They don’t need the support of natural teeth, which sets them apart from partial dentures and traditional dental bridges. This means that dental implants won’t pose a risk to your natural teeth.
Because they attach to your bone, dental implants are completely secure. They won’t fall out as dentures do. You can bite, chew, and speak without worrying about dislodging your implants.
Dental implants are also easy to care for. Just brush, floss, and make regular dental checkups. The flossing technique might differ, but it’s the same as caring for natural teeth.
When properly cared for, dental implants can last a lifetime. More than 90% of dental implants last over 20 years; some have been in place for over 50 years. The restoration might only last 10-15 years, though some may last 30 or more.
Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?
Most people can get dental implants. There are only three essential conditions to be a dental implant candidate. You must be:
Dental implants are tooth replacements, so you must have missing teeth to get them. You must also be an adult because dental implants don’t respond the same to your growing jaw as natural teeth do. Finally, dental implant surgery is relatively minor but still surgery. If we have concerns about your health, we might ask your doctor to sign off on surgery.
For most people, the success rate of dental implants is over 95%, but some factors might affect the success of your implants, including:
Gum disease can affect dental implants as it affects natural teeth. If you have gum disease, let’s treat it before placing implants. Smoking is one lifestyle choice that can significantly increase your risk of dental implant failure. It is best if you quit smoking. At a minimum, you should quit smoking before your implant procedure and avoid smoking while your implants heal.
Health conditions like diabetes and anemia can increase your risk of implant failure, as can some medications like antidepressants and osteoporosis. Previous treatment for oral cancer can increase your risk of serious complications.
During your consultation, we can discuss these factors so you can make an informed decision about dental implants.
The Dental Implant Procedure
At your consultation, Dr. Collins will evaluate your oral health and review the costs and benefits of dental implants. This will include a detailed exam and x-rays (complimentary for new patients) but might consist of other imaging, such as CBCT (which has an additional cost). He’ll let you know when you need different procedures before getting dental implants, such as gum disease treatment or bone grafting. A bone graft helps ensure enough bone to support your dental implants. Often, we can graft bone during the implant procedure, but it sometimes requires an additional procedure.
Placing the implant is a short surgery: about an hour for a single implant. The implant is like a screw that goes into your jaw. When we place your dental implant, Dr. Collins will evaluate its stability. If it’s stable enough, he can put a provisional restoration on it that day. Otherwise, you will get a healing abutment, or perhaps Dr. Collins will cover the implant with your gums.
Over the next three to six months, your dental implants will bond with your bone. If you have a provisional restoration, you might gradually transition toward normal function and hygiene. For the most part, though, you’ll care for your implants usually.
If you didn’t get a provisional restoration at the first surgery, Dr. Collins will start preparing you for a restoration once your bones are fully healed around the implant. If you did get a provisional restoration, Dr. Collins will replace it with a permanent one once your bones heal.
Different Types of Implant Dentures
Often, people use dental implants to replace an entire arch of teeth with an implant denture. These are not all the same, and it’s essential to understand the differences.
Implant-retained dentures, sometimes called implant-secured dentures, use implants mostly to hold them in place. These dentures benefit from the security of implants, but the biting and chewing force still rests on your gums, which aren’t as strong as bones, teeth, or implants. These are usually removable and may have a snap-in connector for easy use.
Implant-supported dentures use implants to support the denture and take the bulk of the bite force. These give you not just secure dentures but also the best function. The All-on-4 implant system is this type. These can either be removable or fixed–secured to implants by screws that only your dentist can remove.
Get Dental Implants in Cheney
Dr. Chris Collins at Collins Family Dentistry in Cheney, WA, can help if you are considering replacing missing teeth with dental implants. He can evaluate your oral health so you can decide if dental implants are right for you. Then, he can help you decide on the best dental implant procedure for you, including what type of implant dentures might be your optimal choice.
To start your implant procedure, please call (509) 235-8451 or use our online form to request an appointment at Collins Family Dentistry in Cheney.