Dental implants have become a generally excepted solution to replacing missing teeth. They can be used to replace a single tooth, a bridge span of several teeth, or even in groups of 4 or more that are used to anchor a complete denture, effectively replacing all of the teeth on one arch. Because they have now been in used for decades, and have become more mainstream, we are often answering a lot of questions about implants that come from curious patients. Here are some of the topics regarding implants that we frequently cover in our office.
What is a dental implant? - Let’s start with the most obvious question. It’s worth mentioning that an implant can simply be though of as a titanium screw. We have found that titanium is bio-compatible (it won’t bother your tissues) and your jaw bone has an affinity for this metal. That means that the implant will become integrated with your jaw bone and has a good chance of solidly remain a part of your jaw.
So if the implant is just a screw, how does it replace a tooth? - After the implant integrates with your jaw, your restorative dentist (that’s us at CrossKeys Dental!) will take an impression. That procedure will allow a dental lab to fabricate an abutment that attaches to the implant. This abutment is then used to hold a porcelain, gold or ceramic tooth that will look and function just like the tooth that you lost. So, essentially, replacing a tooth with an implant requires three parts and some time.
How long does it take? - In most cases an implant requires 3 or 4 months to become integrated with your jaw. After this, your dentist will take the impression to make a new crown. In some cases, before the implant is placed a bone graft may be needed if the jawbone is not thick or deep enough to predictably hold an implant. This will usually add another 3-4 months to the process to allow healing time. So, in short, having an implant replace a tooth will usually take approximately 3-9 months. This sounds like a long time, but most patients have gone much longer than that without the tooth and my advice is this: If we had started 6 months ago, we would likely be finished. Don’t fall into the trap of waiting several years to make this decision if your only concern is the amount of time it will take to get it done!
I bet this all hurts! - Of course, the placement of an implant is a surgical procedure, so you should expect some discomfort. Most patients report several days of aching pain, subsiding each day which is controlled with pain medicine. In most cases it can be controlled with OTC ibuprofen. If you have great pain it may mean that there is a problem with the implant and you should contact your clinician.
So, now that I have an implant, I don’t have to brush and floss, right? - Of course that’s not true! Sure, all of the metal and porcelain that makes up the implant can’t decay, but the surrounding bone and gums can become quite inflamed if not cleaned properly. This is a great contributor to implant failure and is not uncommon.
If you have additional questions, contact your dentists at CrossKeys Dental. We restore implants on a regular basis and are ready to help you decide if implants are right for you.
CrossKeys Dental is located at 110 CrossKeys Office Park in Fairport. Dr. DuPre՛ and Dr. Badali provide comprehensive family dentistry and are always welcoming new patients. Visit us at www.CrossKeysDentalFairport.com for more information.
© 2018 CrossKeys Dental in Fairport, NY by Vince Badali, DDS.