Do you have questions about dental implants?
Life has a way of throwing us curveballs every once in a while; sometimes these curveballs work in our favor, but sometimes they don’t. It’s a safe bet that no one plans to lose a tooth, but whether you lost a tooth due to an injury, infection, or decay, there are plenty of treatment options available to restore your smile. Dental implants are a great way to get your smile back while protecting the long-term health of your mouth.
Since implants are a long-term commitment with a more involved procedure, it’s important to have all the facts before you make a decision. Patients who are considering dental implants generally have a lot of questions, some of which can have complicated answers. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about dental implants.
Do dental implants fulfill a practical purpose?
Dental implants do much more than simply restore your smile, although they do that job very well. They also restore the functionality of your bite and protect your mouth from a host of issues that missing teeth can cause. If you don’t fill in the space from your missing tooth, your surrounding teeth will start to migrate to fill that gap. This can cause an increased risk of gum disease and cavities, as these gaps make it harder for you to clean your teeth. Dental bridges will also keep your teeth from migrating, but dental implants do something no other tooth replacement treatment can do: they prevent bone loss in your jaw.
Without the roots of your natural teeth to stimulate it, the bone beneath your missing tooth will begin to be reabsorbed by your body. This can change the shape of your face, as this part of your jaw begins to take on a sunken appearance. Bridges and dentures simply can’t provide the force needed to stimulate the bone, but dental implants do. They also make it easier to keep your teeth and gums clean and don’t require you to alter otherwise healthy teeth like dental bridges do. This means that dental implants go far beyond simply solving the problem of a missing tooth in the short term by making your smile look better and improving your bite; they’re the marathon runners of tooth replacement treatments, looking ahead and preventing issues that would otherwise appear later down the road as a direct result of losing a tooth. This saves you from costly future treatments and helps you maintain the best oral health possible in the long run. You just have to do your part by implementing a great oral hygiene routine.
What does the procedure involve?
The procedure is spread out over several months so you’re able to heal between each appointment. You’ll need approximately three to six months to heal from losing your tooth, depending on your individual case. After this initial healing time, Dr. Lang will place a titanium root implant into your jaw where the root of your tooth used to be. You’ll be given six to twelve weeks to heal, during which time the bone will actually grow around the titanium post, securing it firmly to your jaw. Once enough time has passed, Dr. Lang will install another post, called the abutment, to the root implant. A crown will then be placed on top of the abutment, completing the process.
How painful is the procedure?
Modern anesthetics have made drastic improvements in the level of discomfort patients experience during dental procedures. Patients who have received dental implants report minimal discomfort, less than that of a tooth extraction. It may sound scary, but you’ll be numbed up during the procedure and really won’t feel pain, just pressure and tugging. The healing process takes longer, and you’ll likely need to eat soft foods for a week or so to give your jaw time to heal, but you can generally knock out any pain you experience with over-the-counter pain medication.
Will they look natural?
Your dental implant will look 100% natural; no one will even know you have one! Since the top of an implant is essentially a crown, the shape is made to fit perfectly in your mouth, and the shade is matched to your existing teeth. Like natural teeth and regular crowns, the implant’s crown sits just below your gum line, making it indistinguishable from your natural teeth.
Can anyone get an implant?
There are a few people who may not be good candidates for dental implants, so it’s always best to talk to Dr. Lang about your options. If you have had radiation therapy in your head or neck, have an uncontrolled chronic illness, such as heart disease, or smoke heavily, you will need to discuss whether or not an implant is possible in your individual case. Additionally, if you have been missing a tooth for a longer period of time, you may need a bone graft to repair existing bone loss in order to get a dental implant. The majority of people, however, are able to get dental implants without a problem. Even if you’re completely healthy in every other way, you’ll need to ensure that you have healthy gums before you undergo a dental implant procedure. Healthy gums are easily achievable by following a regular oral hygiene routine that includes daily flossing in addition to brushing your teeth and using mouthwash.
Will insurance cover them?
Unfortunately, most dental insurance companies will not cover dental implants; they consider implants to be a cosmetic treatment. There are other options, however, if you want to receive an implant. Your normal health insurance may cover a dental implant, so it’s always a good idea to check with them after you have checked with your dental insurance. Most dentists will also allow you to set up a payment plan so you can pay for the implants and procedure in smaller, more affordable increments.
How long do dental implants last?
With good care, the implant itself will last a lifetime. The crown on top of the implant will likely need to be replaced every ten to fifteen years, perhaps a little longer if you take very good care of it. o ensure that your implant lasts, you should give it the same regular oral care that’s recommended for your natural teeth to prevent cavities and gum disease. You should brush your teeth twice a day, floss, and use mouthwash daily, and visit the dentist about twice a year for regular cleanings.
If dental implants are an option for you, they’re a great way to get the cosmetic benefit of a rejuvenated smile, while also keeping your teeth and gums healthy in the long term. It will not only solve the more immediate problems that come from losing a tooth, but problems that could otherwise arise down the road. There are many factors that go into determining whether or not a treatment is right for you, so be sure to discuss your options with Dr. Lang before you settle on one.