Losing teeth as a child can be fun and exciting, but it’s much different when you’re an adult. If you’ve lost one or more teeth through an accident or had them removed due to decay, you have options for replacement. Tooth replacement has come a long way over the past couple of decades, and the dentures of the past have been largely replaced by dental implants.
Dental implants offer the most natural form of tooth replacement, and once they’re complete, can feel just like a normal tooth. At Advanced Dentistry of Scarsdale, we feature implant dentistry as one of our services.
What Is Implant Dentistry?
Simply put, implant dentistry is the practice of implanting teeth into the mouth. Your teeth aren’t just there for chewing and biting – they’re also an integral part of the overall health of your mouth and jaws. The roots of the teeth grow deep into the jaw, stimulating the bone and providing stability to this active part of your body. Dental implants consist of a titanium “root” and a porcelain crown, replicating the structure of a real tooth.
Why Choose Implant Dentistry?
When you lose a tooth, you lose the root, as well. Missing teeth lead to other teeth shifting in the mouth, and the loss of stimulation of the jawbone can cause the bone to deteriorate, leading to painful thinning of the bone, and sometimes an irregular appearance. Dental implants also reduce the chances of decay and deterioration of the empty socket.
Beyond the health benefits of implant dentistry, there are cosmetic ones, as well. The crown portion of the dental implant can be colored to match your existing teeth, and custom-made to fit perfectly in the space. In fact, people won’t know that you have a dental implant unless you tell them! Dental implants, since they’re now a part of your body, can be cared for the same way that your normal teeth are, including brushing and flossing. You can also chew normally, even things like corn on the cob or taffy, things that many denture wearers have to avoid. With proper care, dental implants can last as long as your regular teeth.
The Dental Implants Process
Dental implants are often a two-step process, completed in phases to make sure that your mouth heals. It begins with an examination of your mouth, including an x-ray to determine if there is any deterioration of the jaw. If there’s thinning of the jaw, you’ll need bone grafts first, in order to give the implant enough stability. Once those heal, then your implant procedure begins.
Your first visit will deal with implanting the new tooth root.
- Your dentist will carefully cut into the gum to reveal the jawbone
- Next, they will drill a small hole to screw the root directly into the jaw
- Once the root is at the correct depth, then the gum is repaired and sewn up
Once the titanium root is implanted into your jaw, it takes about four to six weeks to heal. During this time, follow all of your aftercare instructions.
Your Second Visit
Once the incisions from the tooth root placement have healed, then it’s time to complete the process. In between the first and second appointments, your dentist will have created a custom crown just for you. This includes shaping it to make sure that it fits correctly against the other teeth, as well as coloring it to match. Then, the crown will be attached to the root and checked to make sure it’s secure.
You may have a follow-up appointment after the dental implant is completed, to make sure that no problems occurred after the procedure.
How Long Do Dental Implants Take to Heal?
The healing process for the first phase of dental implant treatment is about four to six weeks, although if you have to have a bone graft prior to it, that can take longer. The bone grafting procedure is longer, and healing times can vary depending on the condition of your jaw. Once the implant is placed, though, you should be able to resume normal speaking, chewing, and oral hygiene habits within a week.
To ensure that you’ll have a successful implant procedure, and to prevent infection or other complications, make sure you follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions to the letter, including any kind of antibacterial mouthwash and what kinds of foods to eat. It’s also a good idea to avoid tobacco use and drinking alcohol while you heal.
Am I a Good Candidate For Dental Implants?
Dental implants may not be right for everyone, although each patient is different. Therefore it’s a good idea to have a conversation about implants with your dentist, first. Overall, however, good candidates for dental implants may be:
- People who already practice good oral hygiene, as they’ll have an easier time healing after the process. Plus dental implants require ongoing maintenance and care, including daily brushing and flossing
- You have adequate jawbone volume. Implants need a substantial amount of jawbone to be properly placed, and if there is too much deterioration, then the implant may damage your jaw. This is why bone grafting may be the first step for dental implants
- You have healthy gums. Infected gums and gingivitis prevent proper healing and can lead to tooth loss, both of which can significantly impair the success of dental implants
- Overall good health. If you’re in poor health, including if you have diabetes or a heart condition, then the procedure may not be right for you. Or, if you have a blood clotting disorder, you should seek other tooth replacement options
Schedule Your Appointment Today!
Replacing a missing tooth with an implant has both health and cosmetic benefits. However, each patient is different, so at Advanced Dentistry of Scarsdale, we offer personalized consultations for every patient. When you’re looking for the right implant dentist, you don’t need to search any further than our experienced team. Give us a call or fill out our online contact form for more information about dental implants today!