Anyone who has ever lost a tooth can tell you that it is not just embarrassing to hide their smile. Missing teeth can also cause pain and oral health issues that can put you at risk for greater health problems. From cavities to shifting teeth, to bone loss and more, having missing teeth is a serious medical concern that should be addressed. Here in New Braunfels, we offer dental implants as the most advanced solution in dental medicine today for missing teeth. Dental implants are considered a major oral surgical procedure, however, so care should be taken when choosing this route. In this guide, we’ll walk you through what dental implants are, what the procedure is like if you could be a good candidate for implants and more.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a two-part false tooth that essentially becomes a permanent replacement for a missing tooth. The reason that dental implants are so different is that they replace not only the surface of the tooth but also the root. Teeth rely on their roots to stay healthy, to chew properly, and to stay in place. A dental implant mimics this functionality with a false root and a false tooth, unlike crowns or other restorative dentistry procedures, which only replace the visible part of a tooth.
There are two parts to a dental implant:
- The false root, which is made up of a titanium screw. This part is surgically fused into the jawbone, which is an important feature for functionality. With dentures and crowns, the pressure from eating is directed to the gums rather than the jawbone. This is one reason dental implants are good for your oral health.
- The false tooth, which is made up of a secondary post inserted into the screw, and a crown. The crown will be custom made to match your smile perfectly in shape, size, color, and texture so that no one will be able to tell that you have a false tooth at all.
The Benefits of Implant Dentistry
In addition to getting rid of the gap in your smile, there are many benefits to having an implant. These are just a few of the reasons we’ve recommended implants to our clients here in New Braunfels:
- Dental implants are not as uncomfortable as dentures or other restorative dentistry procedures. Many of our clients say that they forget they even have implants for the most part.
- Dental implants make it easier for you to eat, which can improve your health through a more varied diet.
- Dental implants help prevent bone loss in the jaw.
- Dental implants can be a truly permanent solution to tooth loss, unlike crowns and other procedures which are only designed to last a few decades at most.
- Dental implants can be used to replace multiple teeth at a time.
- Dental implants help you take better care of your oral health due to the need for extra attention to your brushing and flossing habits with an implant.
- Teeth are a base for our cheeks and jaw muscles. When we are lacking teeth, our facial structure can start to sag. Dental implants can act as an instant facelift!
- Dental implants are regarded as the most beautiful option for replacing missing teeth. No one will know you have implants unless you tell them because implants appear just like a natural tooth.
What Happens When I Visit a Dental Implants Specialist?
Visiting a dental implants specialist is not a fast process. However, once the implants are in, you likely will never have to have them replaced. With the right care, implants will last a lifetime. The first time you visit your dental implants specialist here in New Braunfels, we will help you determine if implants are right for you and walk you through the entire process before scheduling the stages of implant surgery. The entire process may take anywhere from four months to a year depending on how fast you heal and other factors.
The first thing we must determine is the health of the bone structure in your jaw where we will fuse an implant. When you have a missing tooth, your jawbone can begin to degrade, so we must consider whether you have enough bone structure for every implant surgery. If you do not have enough bone structure, we may be able to graft bone to the area, which will be done first and will make the entire procedure take longer.
After Preliminary Appointments
If any bone grafting was required, you will need to heal completely before we can place the titanium dental root into the jawbone. It can take about three to six months for the bone and the implant to fuse together and to heal completely.
After this heals, we will attach the part of the root that sticks up above the gum, called the post, to the root. This post is topped with a temporary crown so that you do not bump the post out of place and so that you can eat during your healing time. It will take about two weeks for your gums to heal from this process.
During that time, a laboratory will be creating a custom crown for a permanent replacement. When that is ready, you will have a custom crown placed on the root. This crown will match your smile in color, texture, size, and shape so that no one will ever know you even have an implant.
Once this crown is attached, your dental implant procedure is all done! We can implant multiple replacement teeth at once, so you do not have to repeat this process over if you have multiple missing teeth. However, your gums could take longer to heal if there are multiple surgical sites in your mouth.
Technology Used by Your Dental Implants Specialist in New Braunfels
State-of-the-art dental technology will be used during your procedure to ensure that you receive the very best care during your implant procedure. We begin the procedure with a special CT scan that helps us see the structure of your teeth, jaw bones, skull, sinuses, airways, temporomandibular joints, nerves, and other parts of the anatomy. We use this information to determine how your anatomy will be impacted by the implants.
This type of scan is preferred to a traditional CT scan because it needs only 20 seconds of radiation exposure to give us a complete 3D image of your skull. We can use this image to determine the angle and placement of the implant with 100% accuracy. This cuts down on the chances that your implant will fail or become infected so that you can start living with your brand new smile.
Recovering and Moving Forward After Implant Dentistry
Recovery from implant dentistry can take several weeks, and during that time your body is recovering from a major surgery. You may feel tired and need lots of rest. The following symptoms are very common for the first several weeks after implant dentistry:
- Sensitive gums
- Swelling near the implant site
- Difficulty chewing at first
- An implant surface that feels rough or scratchy
- Implant may feel loose at first
- Gums may appear to be receding around the implant
These symptoms should not last longer than a few weeks post surgery. Ask your dentist in New Braunfels for a specific timeline based on your specific experience. If you experience these symptoms past that time, you should come back to your dental implants specialist in New Braunfels for a checkup.
The biggest concern that we have for post-surgery implants is an infection. If an implant becomes infected, the first things we attempt to treat the issue are scaling and root planing – with the same treatments we use for an infected natural tooth. Our goal is to protect the implant from damage while we do this.
Maintaining your dental implants is easy if you are committed to maintaining a great oral hygiene routine. You will need to brush and floss your teeth twice per day at a minimum and consider using an antimicrobial mouthwash to ensure that any chance of infection at the gum line is eliminated. You should also maintain a regular visiting schedule with your dentist in New Braunfels. We recommend having a professional cleaning every three to four months for the best chance at avoiding infection and periodontal disease. It is very important that periodontal disease is avoided, as it can impact the bone that the implant is used to.
The good news is that if you maintain your implants, they will last a lifetime. There are implants from the 1990s, when dental implants were brand new, that are still very healthy today, that show no signs of failing. However, despite this fact, you do have to remember that dental implants are not the same thing as a real tooth. While regular care and maintenance will keep them looking great, you do have to ensure that a dentist uses plastic or resin tools on the tooth to avoid scratching, for example. You also have to pay very close attention to your gums around the implant for the rest of your life. However, these two changes will soon become routine, and they are much easier to deal with than caring for dentures that have to be removed every single day.
Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?
One of the first things we discuss here in New Braunfels is if you could be a candidate for dental implants. Missing teeth are not as uncommon as you may believe, but not everyone is right for implant dentistry. Here are some conditions that we will consider when determining if a client is a good candidate for implants:
- Are the rest of your teeth and your gums in healthy conditions?
- Do you have sufficient bone density at the implant site to support the implant? If not, is a bone graft possible?
- Are you absolutely committed to good oral hygiene?
- Do you have diabetes or autoimmune disorders that are not being controlled through medication? This can make your healing times much longer.
- Are you a smoker? Are you willing to stop smoking during the implant procedure?
- Have you had treatment with bisphosphonate medications for cancer?
- Do you understand that this process can take up to a year? Are you ready for the time commitment before you have your new smile?
The bone density of your jaw is one of the most important points above. Bone grafts are possible, but they are very serious surgical procedures. It may not be possible to have an implant if you need a bone graft.
Finally, we will pay special attention to the health of your gums. Gum disease is often the top reason for the tooth loss in the first place. Should we implant a new tooth into an area where gum disease could be, we are risking the implant to failure or infection. However, you can have periodontal treatment first to get rid of gum disease. Then we will be able to put in the implant with no issues.
Contact Us Today to Learn More About Dental Implants in New Braunfels
Do you want to know if you would be a good candidate for dental implants? There are many things that we consider when doing a consultation. The best way to learn more about dental implants is to contact Rivercrest Family Dental’s New Braunfels office at 830-625-7611 or get in touch with our office online.