Dental Implants in Scripps Ranch
Dental implants are designed to replace an entire tooth, from its root to its crown. Most dentists, including Dr. Jennifer Santoro, agree that placing dental implants is the most reliable way to recreate the look, feel and function of a natural, healthy tooth. Implants reverse the devastating effects of tooth loss and make it possible for you to chew comfortably, enunciate clearly and smile confidently.
Understanding Dental Implants
Dental implants are constructed from three pieces:
- A post or screw that functions as a tooth root and is anchored in the jawbone
- An artificial tooth (usually a crown) that is custom-created to match the surrounding teeth in shape, size and color
- An abutment piece that connects the two
Because the implant post is surgically placed in the jawbone, it acts as a very stable foundation for the artificial tooth. Unlike dentures or other tooth replacements, implants stay in place without shifting around, loosening or clicking. In fact, implants are often used to secure partial or complete dentures or dental bridges, adding an extra layer of stability.
Another advantage of anchoring implants to the jawbone is that chewing and biting on the implant helps to keep the bone stimulated. This prevents your jawbone from gradually wasting away and causing other problems like loosening teeth or the collapse of the facial structures.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Out of all tooth replacement options, dental implants are most similar to natural teeth in terms of look, feel and chewing function. Dental implant posts function like natural tooth roots; once anchored in your jawbone, they allow you to bite and chew just as you would with a natural, healthy tooth. Your implant will be carefully customized and end up looking virtually indistinguishable from your natural teeth.
Another important benefit of implants is that they do not require any special maintenance. You can — and should — brush and floss your implant just like a natural tooth. You do not need to apply any special adhesive or cleaning products to your implant. Implants do not need to be replaced or remade like dentures or bridges do. If properly cared for, your implant can last the rest of your lifetime.
Implants are also good for the health and strength of your surrounding teeth. An implant does not rely on the surrounding teeth for strength or support, and it keeps your natural teeth from drifting into the gap left by the missing tooth. Chewing on your dental implant helps to keep your underlying jawbone stimulated so it does not get weak and lose its density. If your jawbone were to lose density and deteriorate, it can cause your upper lip to pucker and your cheeks to sag.
Candidates for Dental Implants
Candidates for dental implants should be in good health, ideally not smoke and have healthy gums free of periodontal disease. Dr. Santoro will thoroughly evaluate you and your health status to look for any risk factors that could adversely affect the success of your implant treatment.
Not everyone is a good candidate for dental implants. If you have a weak jawbone that cannot support the implant post, or you are in poor health or have a chronic illness that affects your ability to recover from a surgical procedure, dental implants are probably not a good option for you. Dental implants are also not an optimal choice if you are young and your jawbone is still growing, or if you are currently pregnant. Dr. Santoro can discuss other tooth replacement options, such as a dental bridge or partial denture, which may be more suitable for your needs.
The Implant Placement Process
There are a few steps to the dental implant placement process.
First, the implant post will be placed in your jawbone during a surgical procedure. A small opening will be created in your jawbone where the tooth fell out, and the implant post will be secured to the bone. If the implants are meant to support a denture appliance, more than one post will be placed in your jawbone.
The Recovery Process
After this surgical procedure, osseointegration, which is the process of the implant post fusing with the jawbone, will take place. The osseointegration phase lasts approximately three to six months.
Once the implant and bone have integrated properly, the top of the implant post will be uncovered and the artificial tooth will be attached. The tooth should be virtually indistinguishable from your surrounding natural teeth.
After a slight adjustment period, the dental implant and artificial tooth should feel like one of your own. Dental implants do not require any special care. You can brush and floss them like natural teeth. As long as you keep the implants clean and have them checked by a dentist periodically, it should last a lifetime.
Dental Implant FAQs
Why would I need bone grafting for dental implants?
Bone grafting helps to build up and strengthen weak or deteriorating jawbone. Building up the jawbone creates a solid foundation to support and retain a dental implant post.
How long do dental implants last?
With the proper at-home oral care and routine dental check-ups, dental implants can last virtually indefinitely.
How many teeth can be replaced with dental implants?
Dental implants can replace a single tooth or all of the teeth in your mouth. If you need a single tooth replaced, a single dental implant post can support one crown. If you need to replace several teeth in a row, two dental implant posts can support a bridge. If you need to replace all of the teeth in your upper and/or lower arch, four to six implant posts can support a denture prosthetic.
Can my body reject a dental implant?
Most dental implant posts are made from titanium, which is very compatible with human bone tissue. When placed in healthy bone and properly cared for, implant rejection is rare. However, if you develop an infection due to poor oral hygiene, have an underlying condition where your body rejects foreign devices or you bite or chew on your implant too soon, it can lead to implant failure.
Learn More about Dental Implants
If you are experiencing the effects of tooth loss and wish to discuss your dental implant options with Dr. Santoro, please book an appointment at Village Center Dentistry today. Call 858-566-8510 or email us today.