Dental implants have become the gold standard in tooth replacement. That’s for a number of reasons. One is that they’re so versatile in that they can replace single teeth or multiple teeth. You can even use them to replace an entire arch of teeth or secure your dentures. Another reason is how highly successful they are.
They’ve been in use for over 30 years now in dentistry, and they have a wonderful, predictable treatment path that is shockingly easy on the patient.
We understand it sounds much scarier than it is. We’re talking about replacing a tooth with a dental implant, which is a titanium screw that replaces the tooth root in your jaw. People say that that sounds terrifying, but I guarantee you it’s going to be a much easier experience than you think. Bone has very little feeling and it makes for a very shockingly easy experience where oftentimes we can do the entire replacement of the implant with fewer and more comfortable shots than it takes to even do a small filling.
What are dental implants?
A dental implant (or tooth implant) replaces a missing/lost tooth. At Aloha Dental, dental implants consist of 3 parts: a titanium screw that replaces the root of the tooth, a porcelain crown that replaces the missing tooth, and a piece in the middle (called an abutment) that connects the screw and the crown.
If you lose a tooth or are missing a tooth resulting in a gap between your teeth, your remaining teeth, jaw, and bite will become unstable. Dental implants replace missing teeth (fill in the gap) and restore stability to your mouth/teeth.
Who is a candidate for dental implants?
Dental implants are an ideal treatment option for most healthy people. In most cases, dental implants are a better option than a porcelain bridge. Exceptions to this rule are patients who are long-term heavy smokers, uncontrolled diabetics, and patients who have undergone bisphosphonate treatment. To find out if you are a candidate for dental implants, schedule a consultation visit to discuss all of your options for restoring your teeth.
What are the advantages to dental implants?
There are several advantages to choosing dental implant treatment. First, the tooth implant replaces the whole missing tooth (crown and root). Because the root of the tooth is restored, the bone supporting the implant remains healthy and strong. Left without a root or implant, the bone will resorb (atrophy) away leaving a defect in the jaw.
Another advantage of dental implants over a bridge is that the teeth next to the imlpant do not require any work/drilling. When we use a bridge to replace missing teeth, we have to file the teeth on either side of the space. A great advantage of implants is that once they settle in, they rarely fail. You may need to replace your implant abutment or implant crown after a long while, but it is extremely rare to ever need to replace the entire tooth implant system.
From the patient’s perspective, an implant looks and acts just like a normal tooth. You can floss it just like a tooth, and it looks and functions like a natural tooth. Dental implants are one of the most successful procedures available in dentistry today.
What are the disadvantages to dental implants?
One drawback to dental implant treatment is that the process takes a while. From start to finish, the process takes between 4 and 8 months. After the tooth implant is initially placed, it has to have time to settle into the jaw (through a process called osseointegration). After the implant settles in, the implant can be completed in 2 to 3 weeks.
Another possible drawback to dental implant treatment is mastering the aesthetics of the restoration. Trying to match an implant tooth to blend in with the natural teeth can be difficult, and sometimes (for example if you need to replace two adjacent teeth in the smile), a bridge is a better option.
Our Aloha Dental Group dentists have years of experience restoring implants, and they have the skill and knowledge to recognize any potential drawbacks BEFORE you start your case. They will be able to help you understand whether or not you are an excellent candidate to receive a tooth implant — and what your aesthetic outcome will be using implants, as well as other restorative options.
A final thing to consider when choosing dental implant treatment, is the fact that placing the implant requires surgery. For most cases the surgery is minor, and you may or may not have to undergo sedation or general anesthesia (put to sleep) in order to have the tooth implant placed. Still this is a consideration that you must weigh when deciding which treatment/restoration is the best one for you.