Stamford Dentist

Dental ImplantsStamford, CT

When it comes to dental treatments, such as dental implants, technology has never been better. However, many Americans still lose their teeth because of cavities, periodontal disease or injury.

For years, the only option people with missing teeth had were dentures and bridges. While these devices provide some function, they did not act natural. These days, dental implants have become one of the most common tooth replacement methods.

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What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a tiny screw or post made from titanium. This metal is light, sturdy and biocompatible, which mean it fuses well with the body. A dental implant replaces the root of the tooth. Like the tooth root, the dental implant is held firmly by the jawbone and stays hidden after the surgery. Implants help to hold dental crowns, bridges or dentures.

The success of a dental implant is based on osseointegration, which is its ability to fuse or integrate with the bone. When a tooth is lost, some of the bone structure is lost as well. This is often the case in those who have gum disease. The implant helps to restore stability to the bone and prevent further loss.

Aside from being an excellent tooth replacement, dental implants help to preserve the shape and density of the jawbone. This means that they have an indirect contribution to preserving facial bone and soft tissue structures, including the cheeks, lips and gums.

Essentially, dental implants help to restore normal tooth functions and appearance, which may affect your physical and psychological wellbeing.

Are you a candidate for dental implants?

Normally, if you have a missing tooth, you are eligible for dental implants. It is vital, however, that your health is optimal. This is a surgical procedure, so your health and medical history play an important role. Some diseases and conditions may determine if dental implants will work for you. For instance, cancer, alcoholism, unmanaged diabetes and uncontrolled gum diseases may influence the osseointegration process. You must inform the dentist of your medical history, including the medications you are using.

The dentist will make a thorough assessment of your oral cavity and jaws to determine how and where the implants will be placed. This will mean taking impressions of your teeth, giving X-rays and running CT scans. Ideally, there must be enough bone mass to hold the dental implant. If you do not have enough bone, the dentist may recommend bone grafts to make up for the lost bone. Surgical procedures can also help to regenerate lost bone. Often, the primary consideration regarding dental implant candidacy is jawbone preservation.

The bone requires stimulation to remain healthy. Since dental implants integrate with the bone, they help prevent further deterioration. Resorption, or bone loss, is a normal and inevitable phenomenon once there are no teeth connected to the jaw. Only a dental implant can halt this process and preserve the bone.

Placing the dental implant

During your initial consultation, the dentist will perform certain examinations to verify that your gums and jawbone are healthy and in good shape. If no bone graft is needed, the dental expert will proceed to explain what the procedure entails. If a bone graft is required, the implantation will be performed after the bone has fully healed.

The implant is inserted surgically, in which precise spots are created on the jawbone. The implants are then inserted into those spots and fused with the bone. It usually takes about two to six months for the implant and bone to fuse together.

After that, another appointment will be required to place the dental restoration like a dental crown or bridge to finish the implant process.

The dental implant procedure is mostly painless, as surgeons use local anesthesia or sedation before the procedure. That said, you may have some soreness during recovery. Your dentist will provide ways to manage this tenderness.

An article in The Journal of Dental Research found that implants installed by a specialist have a success rate of about 95 percent. The location of the implant and your daily habits will also affect how long the implant will be viable. Generally, dental implants can last a lifetime with proper oral care.

Types of Dental Implants

The American Dental Association recognizes two main types of implants:

Endosteal implants

These implants are inserted surgically into the jawbone. After the surrounding gum tissue heals, another surgery will be required to attach a post to the previous implant. In the end, a prosthetic tooth or teeth will attach to the post. They can act individually or be grouped on a bridge or denture.

Subperiosteal implants

This comprises a metal frame that fuses to the jawbone right below the gum tissues. After the gum heals, the frame and jawbone become one. Posts or abutment connect to the frame and protrude from the gums. Afterward, a prosthetic tooth attaches to the post.

The difference between dental implants and natural teeth

Natural teeth and dental implants may have the same feel, appearance and function, but they have their differences.

Unlike the natural tooth, which is prone to decay and cavities, dental implants can withstand bacteria and harmful foods. Also, teeth may be sensitive to certain foods and drinks. Implants can help you get back to enjoying things like ice cream and sweet foods.

Maintaining dental implants

Crowns or any other prosthetic dental restoration used on implants are built to be outstandingly foolproof. They can be removed and replaced in the event that the prosthetic tooth suffers damage or deterioration. Your dentist can do this without touching the implants or jawbone.

Regardless, implants need proper maintenance. It is imperative to keep excellent oral hygiene to prevent further tooth loss. Be sure to brush twice a day, especially after meal, and floss once per day. You should also visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. The dentist has special equipment for cleaning the implant without damaging the metal surface under the gum tissues. The dentist will also be able to monitor the implant to ensure the bone is healthy so that the bridge, crown or denture functions properly.

Are you ready for dental implants?

Having a missing tooth not only affects your appearance but can also cause changes in your face and mouth. To prevent this from happening, you need to see a dentist to replace the missing tooth. If you are considering dental implants, please call our office to schedule a consultation.