Dental implants are one of the crowning achievements of cosmetic dentistry. They can restore your ability to chew normally. They can prevent your jawbone from becoming smaller as the result of bone loss. They can even promote greater health of surrounding gums and bone.
But the benefits of dental implants aren’t limited to greater comfort and better health. They can also make your smile look amazing by replacing cracked, decayed or missing teeth with perfectly realistic replacements!
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are metal cylinders which are surgically implanted into the jawbone by a prosthodontist. They are normally made with titanium, because its resistance to corrosion from body fluids makes it the least toxic metal to living tissue.
A dental implant alone does not actually replace a tooth. Instead it serves as the substitute for a tooth’s root, thus providing the secure point of attachment required to support a crown. Multiple implants can anchor a larger bridge, or even an entire denture.
Dental implants are not considered permanent, although they can easily last a lifetime if their recipient brushes and flosses regularly and receives biannual checkups from a dentist.
Who Can Get Dental Implants?
Almost anyone is a viable candidate for dental implants. If you are in the extreme minority of people who are allergic to titanium, then you may safely receive a stainless steel or zirconia implant. If your jawbone is shallow, weak or lacks density, then a subperiosteal implant which does not actually penetrate bone may provide a safer alternative.
People living with diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and osteoporosis may not be eligible to receive dental implants, but that varies on a case by case basis.
What Is the Dental Implant Procedure?
American dentists currently provide over three million dental implants every year. The dental implant procedure is well understood and perfectly streamlined, with minimal risk of failure. The process typically occurs in four steps:
- Clinical evaluation – The dentist takes X-rays and examines their patient’s oral health and jawbone density to ensure both are sufficient for the procedure to safely take place.
- Insertion – After anesthetization, the dentist incises the soft tissues covering the jawbone and drills a narrow hole into it. The implant is then gently screwed into position where it will gradually fuse with the jawbone (aka osseointegration).
- Healing collar – The dentist takes X-rays to ensure that fusion has successfully occurred within six months of the initial procedure. They next place a healing collar around the implant to promote healthy attachment of the surrounding gums. Finally, they place a temporary crown or denture to the implant to provide enhanced aesthetics while the permanent prosthesis is created.
- Final placement – Once the implant has fully fused to the surrounding bone and the site of surgery has healed healthily, the final crown is secured to the implant – or implants, in the case of a bridge or denture.
Are Dental Implants Painful?
The surgery itself is entirely painless thanks to local anesthetic. Discomfort following the procedure is completely normal, and can usually be mitigated with anti-inflammatory analgesics such as Tylenol and Advil. If the patient reports especially severe pain, the dentist may prescribe prescription painkillers such as Vicodin or Percocet. Sockit!, a topical analgesic gel, can also prove helpful for reducing discomfort following the dental implant procedure.
Are People Happy With Their Dental Implants?
The increasing popularity of dental implants is no fluke. During a recent study of patients who underwent the procedure, over 99% reported satisfaction with their restorations five years later.
These patients appreciated how effectively their dental implants fully restored their natural smiles. But five years is not long enough to appreciate every benefit dental implants have to offer. In addition to stabilizing adjacent natural teeth, they significantly reduce the risk of gum disease and ward off potential future bone loss. Not a bad day’s work for what ultimately amounts to a simple metal screw!
Would you like to learn more about how dental implants can permanently improve your smile, as well as what you can expect during and after the procedure? Then we welcome you to contact Centrasota Dental today to schedule a consultation at our clinic in St. Cloud, MN. Dr. Congdon and his team are always available to help you enjoy your best smile with our area’s best dental care!