Are missing teeth making you self-conscious? Do you have trouble chewing because of lost teeth? Is tooth loss affecting your speech? Dental implants can solve these problems and greatly improve your appearance. The dentists at La Jolla Family Smile Design share what you need to know about dental implants.
What Are Dental Implants?
Patients with missing teeth have various replacement alternatives, but the gold standard is the dental implant. A dental implant performs all of the functions of a natural tooth while helping to protect the jawbone.
Dental implants consist of three components:
- Implant post – Made of titanium or zirconia, the post is placed surgically within the jawbone. The post replaces the missing tooth’s root.
- Abutment – This component is attached to the implant and is designed to hold the crown.
- Crown – This is the porcelain or ceramic tooth placed atop the abutment.
If the patient practices good oral hygiene and visits the dentist regularly, dental implant posts should last the rest of their lives. The crown may eventually need replacement, but with normal wear-and-tear it can last a decade or more.
Dental Implant Procedure
The dental implant procedure takes place over months, but patients are never toothless during that time. A temporary tooth is in place during that period.
The procedure varies from patient to patient. For instance, in some people it may include tooth extraction. Weak jawbones may necessitate bone grafting prior to implantation. The actual surgical post implementation takes an hour or two. It takes a few months for the implant to fuse with the jawbone, a process known as osseointegration. Patients receive a local anesthetic for pain relief. Post-operative discomfort is generally minimal.
Natural Tooth Function
Dental implants function just like natural teeth. They are also cared for like natural teeth, with daily brushing and flossing. They are stable and do not shift while speaking or eating.
Dental Implant Candidates
Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants. For example, some people have jawbones that are too thin to retain the implant. Make sure to tell the dentist about any medications you take. Patients taking drugs that suppress the immune system are not good dental implant candidates.
However, just because a person is not a good dental implant candidate does not mean there aren’t other options for replacing missing teeth.
If you would like more information about dental implants and how they can improve your smile, contact the dentists at La Jolla Family Smile Design. To schedule a consultation to start this discussion, please call (858) 454-3044.