If you’ve suffered tooth loss, the only options in the past were bridges or dentures. However, with advances in dental care, periodontists like Dr. Godat and Dr. King of Periodontal Associates of Memphis can offer improved techniques such as dental implants. But what are dental implants, and how do they work? If you’re looking to answer these questions and learn more about dental implants, then read on.
Dental implant surgery is a treatment that involves the replacement of missing or badly damaged teeth by replacing your tooth root with metal posts. It can offer you a more suitable long-term replacement for bridges or dentures, which may cause issues by being ill-fitting or uncomfortable. It also provides an option where bridges or dentures are not ideal due to poor jaw condition or badly damaged roots.
There are different procedures involved that your periodontist will advise you on. Which approach is most suitable for you will depend on various reasons—for example, the condition of your jawbone or the number of teeth that require replacement.
What are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
There is a whole range of benefits to be derived from undergoing dental implant surgery if you suffer from tooth loss or irreparably damaged teeth. These include:
- Boost your self-confidence. Missing teeth can affect not only your smile, causing you to smile less, but it can alter the shape of your face. Restoring your teeth can make you feel like yourself again, giving a lift in your self-confidence.
- Comfort when chewing. Your new dental implants are part of you. There are no gaps or movement to cause discomfort when chewing.
- Improved speech. Dentures and bridges can affect how you speak and even cause impediments. Dental implants eliminate this issue.
- Durability. Your dental implants will last for many years, much like natural teeth, unlike dentures or bridges, which require more frequent replacement.
What Types of Dental Implants Are Available?
The three standard dental implants you can choose from are endosteal, subperiosteal, and zygomatic.
- Endosteal is the most commonly used. This type involves placing screw-shaped posts into the jaw that the new teeth are then fitted onto.
- Subperiosteal is the type of dental implant used if there is insufficient jaw mass in which to place the posts. In this case, a metal frame is placed under the gum with the post attached to it.
- Zygomatic implants are the least commonly used type. It is a highly complex procedure involving placing implants in the cheekbone when there is insufficient jawbone for them.
What Does Dental Implant Surgery Involve?
Dental implant surgery is a multi-stage process, with healing time required between some stages. It can be a lengthy process, but the long-term benefits make it well worth the investment of your time. Here’s a quick overview of the processes involved.
If you have insufficient jaw mass to take the implants or your jaw bone is too soft, bone grafting may be required. This may involve using natural material taken from another part of your body or a synthetic material. Your periodontist will advise you about what will work best in your particular case. It will take several months for sufficient healing and bone regrowth to allow the next phase to proceed. Of course, you may choose subperiosteal implants instead if that is a suitable option. Again your periodontist will let you know what is best.
Placing The Implant
This involves cutting the gum open to expose the bone. Holes are then drilled into the bone, and the metal posts are inserted deep into it. There will still be a gap with no tooth, and you can choose to have a temporary denture until the next stage begins.
Once the implant is in the jaw, you need to wait for the bone to grow into it and bond with its surface. This process is known as osseointegration and will take several months, giving you a solid foundation for fixing the new tooth.
Placing an Abutment
The abutment is the piece to which the new crown will eventually attach. To place this requires a minor surgery with local anesthesia involving opening the gum once again to place the abutment, placing it, and then closing the gum tissue around the abutment but not covering it.
After this, you will require about two weeks more of healing time before the final process of fitting your new teeth.
Fitting Your New Teeth
Once your gums have healed, your periodontist will take impressions of your mouth. These will be used to create the pattern for your new crown, which will be made to match your other teeth as closely as possible, giving your smile a natural look. You can choose to have new teeth that are permanent, removable, or a combination of the two. It would be best to discuss with your periodontist which type will be more suitable for you.
What Can I Expect After The Procedure?
At each stage of the procedure, you can expect some of the symptoms usually associated with surgery of any kind. These can include swelling, bleeding, bruising, or minor bleeding around the implantation site. In addition, you should discuss any pain management requirements with your periodontist, although pain should be relatively minor from this type of surgery.
You will also need to eat soft foods after each stage of surgery to avoid damaging what has been done or causing yourself excessive discomfort. Any stitches used will usually be of the self-dissolving type, but your periodontist will let you know if they’re not and they need to be removed.
Who Can Have Dental Implants?
If you’re healthy enough for routine dental procedures like root canals or tooth extractions, there should be no issues with having the minor surgeries required for dental implants. However, you will need to have healthy gums and sufficient strong jawbone to hold the implants. Commitment to regular dental visits and oral hygiene is also necessary.
If you have chronic disorders such as heart disease or diabetes, or if you are a heavy smoker, discuss these issues with your periodontist, who will evaluate your suitability on an individual basis.
Who Should Perform My Dental Implant Surgery?
Complex procedures like dental implants should only be carried out by trained and qualified periodontists, such as Dr. Godat and Dr. King of Periodontal Associates of Memphis. We have decades of experience in dental implant surgeries and a list of glowing testimonials from former and current patients. So, if you’re in the Memphis area and looking for a top-quality periodontist, contact us today.