It goes without saying that a full smile can help you feel confident, not to mention provide you with optimal use of your teeth for eating and speaking. Indeed, getting replacement teeth to fill gaps can be life-changing. For many of our patients at Shoreline Dental Studio, dental implants are the ideal tooth replacement option for achieving a functional smile they’re proud to show off.
Let’s cover all you need to know about dental implants:
- What are dental implants?
- The benefits of dental implants
- Who is a candidate for dental implants?
- Different types of dental implants
- What does dental implant surgery look like?
- How much are dental implants?
What are dental implants?
Simply put, dental implants are small posts that are embedded and integrated into your jawbone to support lifelike replacement teeth. They function just like your natural teeth’ roots to anchor natural-looking porcelain teeth. The complete system comes in three parts: the implant, the visible prosthetic tooth, and the small abutment that joins the two.
The implant is a titanium post that sits where a tooth root used to live, or in the case of a gap where a tooth never came in, the post sits where a tooth should have been. Attached to the titanium post is a small abutment that connects the titanium piece to the porcelain crown, denture, or bridge. The third piece is the visible part — the porcelain crown, denture, or bridge. It is attached with either a tiny screw or dental cement.
The benefits of dental implants
Some patients have come to us asking why they should choose dental implants over other tooth replacement options. For a start, implants are permanent fixtures in your mouth; you don’t have to worry about them falling out or misplacing them.
In addition, implants act like the tooth roots you’re missing and signal health to the jawbone: they prevent further deterioration of your facial structure. You see, when there are no tooth roots anchored in the jawbone, the human body thinks the jawbone is no longer needed for supporting teeth and it begins to deteriorate. Aesthetically, this is what leads to a sunken appearance in the lower face, making a person look much older than they are.
Other reasons dental implants are the best teeth replacement option:
Durability – They’re made of material that will last a lifetime when cared for properly.
Natural-looking and feel like your other teeth – The porcelain crown, bridge or dentures look and function like real teeth.
Low maintenance – You take care of them just like you do your natural teeth: with good oral hygiene, dental checkups, and professional cleaning.
Cost-effective – You can save money in the long run because they last a long time.
Inobtrusive – Dental implants don’t require any change to the adjacent teeth.
A quick day surgery – Each surgery only takes a few hours.
Who is a candidate for dental implants?
You might be surprised to learn that less than half of all adults in the US have all their permanent teeth. As we age, the chances of losing our teeth increases. In fact, two-thirds of adults between 40-64 years old are missing at least one tooth. And around 19% of adults over the age of 65 are missing all their teeth. The most common reason for tooth loss as we age? Untreated cavities and tooth decay.
At Shoreline Dental Studio, we take the time to have detailed conversations with our patients about what they expect from their dental implants. Some patients have a good bite so the function isn’t an issue. They’re looking instead to improve aesthetics. Other patients have difficulties with chewing or talking and hope tooth replacement will help solve these issues. Whatever the case, Dr. Kristen Ritzau will place your dental implants with expertise and care, ensuring your dental implants look natural and fulfill your smile goals. Once your implants are ready, either Dr. Ritzau, Dr. Colby Livingston, or Dr. Shahira Saad will place your crown or bridge.
Different types of dental implants
As mentioned, a dental implant ultimately supports a crown, bridge, or denture. The type depends on how many teeth need replacing. An implant-supported crown is a replacement for one tooth (or several individual teeth in different areas of the mouth), while implant-supported bridges or dentures replace several adjacent teeth, typically up to 12 teeth.
Dental implant with a crown – When there’s only one tooth to replace in a specific location, an implant with a crown will be suggested. In this case, one implant positioned in the jaw is topped with one, realistic-looking and sturdy artificial tooth.
Dental implant with a bridge – When you have more than one tooth that needs replacing, we recommend an implant-supported bridge. Unlike a traditional bridge that anchors to teeth on either side, an implant bridge is anchored by two implants instead. Typically, an implant with a bridge can support 3-4 porcelain teeth and are an option for those who might not have strong enough teeth for supporting a traditional bridge.
Dental implant with dentures – You might be surprised to know that you can have dentures anchored by dental implants. Implant-supported dentures typically need 2-4 implants for removable dentures and 4-6 implants for fixed dentures. Some of our patients ask us what the main benefit is of having implant-supported dentures versus traditional ones. Implant-supported dentures are more stable and are known to be more comfortable. You can choose between the permanent/fixed or removable kind, however, we don’t offer all-on-4 denture implants. The team at Shoreline Dental Studio can assess your needs and suggest which will work best for you.
What does dental implants surgery look like?
Dental implant surgery happens in multiple stages. The first step is receiving detailed assessments and diagnostics. At our San Clemente and Mission Viejo offices, we use the best dental technology available, such as digital x-rays, 3D mapping, models, and photographs to help build a precise plan for your dental implants.
We might also bring in specialists like an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, a prosthodontist (a dentist who designs and fits artificial teeth), or an ENT doctor (ear, nose, and throat specialist).
After assessments and diagnostics come surgery. Sometimes patients must first undergo tooth removal if it’s not an existing gap that needs filling but damaged teeth that will need replacing once removed. This step can either be separate or combined with placing the implant immediately after and depends on the health of your jawbone. Some patients have to wait if there is an infection in the bone or if the bone needs restoration with a bone graft. Healing in these latter cases typically takes 3-6 months.
If you have sufficient bone density where the implant will go, you don’t have any pre-existing medical conditions that could impact bone healing, and you display healthy oral tissue, you might be a candidate for same-day implant surgery.
Placing the Implant
When a patient comes in asking about dental implants, one of the first questions they ask is, “Are dental implants painful?” At Shoreline Dental Studio, we use local anesthesia and sedation, which make surgery painless and the experience as comfortable as possible.
The surgery requires making an incision in the gum and drilling a hole in the jawbone. The titanium post is then inserted. It then takes 3-6 months for the bone to heal around the implant and a smooth covering protects the surgical site while you heal.
In some cases, placing a temporary or permanent crown can happen immediately after the implant has been inserted. But even if this is the case for you, a new implant cannot yet take the normal bite forces you need. We’ll talk you through your options for how best to retain your eating functions while healing.
Placing the abutment
This step is dependent on the type of artificial teeth you will be using. Healing after abutment surgery takes two weeks before receiving your crown, bridge, or dentures.
Placing the artificial teeth
The last step in dental implant surgery is attaching your custom-made, porcelain teeth to the implants.
How much are dental implants?
Now that you know all about dental implants, how much do dental implants cost? The financial cost for tooth replacement depends on the type of dental implants you need. Just as each patient’s needs and smile goals are unique, so is the cost.
Get dental implants with your restorative dentistry experts
Ready to replace missing teeth? Want a more confident smile or functional bite? Schedule an appointment today at Shoreline Dental Studio to take advantage of $250 off dental implants. This promotion runs in July, August, and September 2021 only.