Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about implant issues. If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.
What are the most common benefits of dental implants?
Replacing a lost tooth is vital to maintaining the overall health and function of the surrounding teeth. It helps avoid tooth migration and loss of bone. It is necessary to avoid loss of bone from the jaw in that area. Dental implants are an effective means of counteracting these problems. Dental implants are also very strong and provide a feel as close to a natural tooth as can be currently achieved. Further, implants reduce the impact of the lost tooth on surrounding teeth, as traditional bridge structures often require reduction (filing down) of the two adjacent teeth to hold the bridge in place with crowns. Implanting avoids such alterations to the surrounding teeth when replacing a lost tooth.
Dental implants, when replacing dentures, provide even more benefits. Dentures are notorious for slipping at the worst possible moments. Poorly fitting dentures can even affect diet, restricting food selections to easily chewed foods. Implants eliminate the possibility of slipping or pinching, and allow food of almost all types to be eaten (other than extremely hard foods such as chewing on ice, pits, or popcorn kernels, which is very bad for the implants and not good for natural teeth, either). In short, dental implants are the closest way to surgically restore a natural tooth to its original condition.
What will happen at the initial consultation?
At the first appointment, the dentist will examine your teeth and determine whether implants are the solution to your dental problems. Often, x-rays are necessary to discover the state of the jawbone, particularly if the teeth have been lost for some time. This information can be used to determine if implants would work for you and, if so, what particular type of implant that would be best for your situation. The entire implant procedure from beginning to the end will be explained to you by Dr. Sproles using models and your x-rays.
How are dental implant procedures performed?
Under local anesthesia, a small plug of gum will be removed then the bone will be removed to match the size of the implant designed for the site. Implants that are placed in the bone are called endosteal implants and are made of titanium or a titanium alloy because this metal does not adversely interact with biological tissue. After placement of the implant a cover screw is put in and allowed to heal. Implants normally need to heal about 4 months
Impressions are taken at your dentist office to make the crown just like crowns on natural teeth. The finished crown is then cemented on the implant like a natural tooth.
How long does the surgery take?
Surgery time will vary greatly depending on the number of dental implants. When there is no extraction or grafting it usually takes about 20 minutes for placement of one implant. With extraction and grafting add about 15 minutes. Time goes up proportionally from there.
Where will the procedure be performed?
The implant procedure occurs in the office.
How much pain is there?
Local anesthesia avoids the pain that would be involved in the surgical procedures during implantation. Most patients state that implants involve less pain and discomfort than a tooth extraction.
What can I expect after dental implants?
Following surgery, there could be bleeding, controlled by biting down on some gauze. Swelling may be controlled using an ice pack. Gums can be sore for seven to ten days. You will be given antibiotics and pain medication to take during the period immediately following the surgery.
What is the recovery period like?
Many people have very mild soreness, bleeding, or swelling, which can be treated with first aid and over the counter medicines and can return to work the day after surgery.
After the placement of the implant, there is a recovery period of about 2-3 days. Any discomfort can usually be controlled using over the counter medicine.
It is very important to practice scrupulous oral hygiene until the crown is placed. Poor care, resulting in chronic swelling of gum tissue, is a major contributor to implant failure. You may need to see your dentist about four times a year to keep track of the implant health.
What is the long-term outcome with dental implants?
For most people, dental implants last a long time.
The primary consideration for the suitability of dental implants for a particular patient is the amount and condition of the bone in the area where the implant is to be placed. With the loss of a tooth, the area of the jaw without the tooth naturally undergoes resorption, or a thinning, of the bone in that area. The less bone available in which to place the implant, the greater chance of the implant not "taking" in the region. A common type of implant, called root form implants due to their similarity in shape to a tooth root, actually undergo a bonding with the surrounding bone called Osseo-integration. Without enough healthy bone at the implant site, this process cannot occur and the implant will fail.
There are two solutions commonly used for highly resorbed bone in the area where the implant is to occur. The first is bone grafting. This involves undergoing a procedure that moves bone from one place in the body to another to enlarge the bone structure at the implant site. Often bone can be moved from one place in the mouth to another. Sometimes a graft from a donor or an animal or artificial bone can be used if bone from the patient is not available. Grafting usually is done four to eight months before the implant procedure, to allow the graft a chance to heal before it is disturbed with the implant process.
Other important information
A further consideration as to suitability for implants is the patient's general health, especially whether or not the patient smokes. Although the exact cause of the connection is not known, dentists hypothesize that the nicotine in the cigarettes, known to shut down blood vessels, interferes with the healing of the dental implants. Whatever the cause, heavy smokers are known to have a higher failure rate for implants than those who do not smoke. Other chronic conditions that affect healing, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis, and immunosupression can also increase the chance of implant rejection.
Risks and Limitations:
The greatest risk following the surgical procedures is that the implant will fail. For implants placed within the bone, most failures occur within the first year and then occur at a rate of less than one percent per year thereafter. Location of the implant can also predict the risk of failure. Implants in the back upper jaw fail most often, followed by the front upper jaw, the back lower jaw, and the most success seen in implant of the front lower jaw. Overall, the success rate for all implants runs over 95%. Most failed implants can be replaced with a second attempt.
Be sure to:
• Tell Dr. Sproles about any allergies you have (to foods, drugs, environmental elements)
• Tell Dr. Sproles about all medications you are taking (both prescription and non-prescription)
• Carefully follow any instructions that Dr. Sproles gives you.)
The information on this web site is only intended as an introduction to this procedure and should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor as a guarantee of the result. The best method of determining your options is to consult qualified clinicians who are able to answer specific questions related to your situation.
Information here is not meant to be exhaustive. Any or all procedures may change due to circumstances.
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