Dental implants are a great option to replace missing teeth. An implant is a surgical fixture that is placed in the bone, and is allowed to fuse with your existing bone over the course of several months. These “artificial roots” can replace single or multiple missing teeth in the mouth, allowing for better chewing function and/or addressing cosmetic concerns.
The fusion of a dental implant into the bone is called “osseointegration,” and it is the closest thing to a natural tooth that we have in care today. Thanks to innovations in dental science, the success rate of dental implants is almost 98 percent.
Why would you need dental implants?
Implants can be used to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth, or even your entire mouth. The goal of implant use is not only to restore function but improve overall appearance and strength as well.
While other options for tooth replacement exist—partial dentures, complete dentures, and the like—dental implants remain the gold standard for tooth replacement. Several factors must be considered when deciding if implants are right for you. These factors include:
- The location of missing teeth
- Health and density of the jawbone in which the implant is to be placed
- Health of the patient
- Patient preferences
Dr. Schultz will examine your mouth and determine if implants are the right choice for you.
What does the dental implant procedure involve?
The first step in a dental implant procedure involves assessing the health of the bone and soft tissues where the implant is to be placed. If teeth in the mouth still need to be extracted to facilitate the process, this would precede additional work. If a bone graft is necessary to fortify the site/sites for implant placement, the site/sites will need to heal before continuing the implantation process.
When the bone is strong enough to support an implant, a titanium post is placed in this site, using special instruments. A “healing cap” is then attached to the titanium post, and the site is allowed to heal for four to six months, while the post becomes fused to the bone. Follow up appointments will be necessary to make sure that bone is adequately integrated, and no infection exists.
The final phase of an implant process involves placing a custom crown on the implant, so that it looks, functions, and feels like a normal tooth. After this crown is placed, the implant should be fully functional, and ready to chew on!
How long does it take to heal?
Due to the fact that there are several stages in the implant process, it can take anywhere from five months to over a year, in order for that area of the mouth to be fully functional once more. During this time, it is essential that you follow your dentist’s instructions for follow-up care, including paying attention to any chewing restrictions. The amount of time that is required varies from patient to patient, depending on the condition of the mouth, the location of the implant, and the density of the bone in which the implant is to be placed.
If you have questions about the start-to-finish process for your implant, talk to Dr. Schultz about creating a timeline that will help you to prepare for this important procedure. You are rebuilding the health and strength of your mouth, and you want to make sure it is done correctly! Look forward to improved oral health through dental implant procedures—it will be well worth the wait!