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.
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.
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.
Is the Dental Implant Process Painful?
Most patients find the dental implant process is not as uncomfortable as they imagined and is less painful than a tooth extraction. You shouldn’t feel anything when the implant is placed because a local anesthetic numbs the area. Post-operative pain can be well managed with over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen. Ice or a cold compress can also help ease your discomfort.
How Do I Care for My Dental Implants?
The beautiful thing about dental implants is that these artificial tooth roots and prosthetic teeth act like your natural teeth. You care for your dental implants the same way, with brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and rinsing with mouthwash or water after meals.
Regular dental exams and cleanings are essential to maintaining a healthy smile and help ensure your dental implants last a lifetime. Dental implants do not decay, but your remaining teeth and gum tissue surrounding the dental implant can suffer from poor oral hygiene.
Why Are Dental Implants the Best Option for Restoring Lost Teeth?
Dental implants offer unique benefits whether you are missing a single tooth or an entire arch of teeth. Your jawbone relies on the steady pressure of your natural tooth root to maintain its strength. Without that consistent pressure from the missing tooth, your jawbone will start to “resorb” or break down, affecting the health of your entire mouth. It’s essential to replace the missing tooth to restore your jawbone integrity. You can lose up to 25 percent of your jawbone density within the first year of losing just one tooth.
While other restorative dentistry options can fill in the gap created by the missing tooth, a dental implant is the only option that strengthens your jawbone. The titanium post fuses with your jaw through osseointegration and provides the same pressure as your natural tooth root to prevent further bone resorption. Dental implants are excellent for supporting bridges and dentures. Without the implanted artificial tooth root, your jawbone would continue to resorb, changing your facial shape, affecting your remaining teeth and altering your speaking and eating capabilities. Dental implants maintain your facial structure and a healthy jawbone.
Dental implants are different than dentures as they are permanently fixed. You never have to worry about slipping or clicking when you’re eating, laughing or speaking. These reliable artificial teeth are sturdy and are an excellent way to stabilize a bridge or denture if you are missing multiple teeth.
In addition to these oral health benefits, dental implants look just like your natural teeth and mimic the sheen of your tooth enamel.
Should I Avoid Certain Foods After Dental Implant Surgery?
You will want to consume soft foods and drink plenty of liquids after the implant is surgically placed. For the first few days, stick to foods that are easy to swallow, such as smoothies, shakes, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, soups and yogurt. You will be able to enjoy soft noodles such as macaroni and cheese and sandwiches soon after, but you should avoid crunchy or tough foods. Dr. Santoro will tell you when you can graduate to your regular diet, typically one or two weeks after the procedure. Stay away from acidic or spicy foods along with popcorn, tough meat and rice during this time.
If you are a smoker, you need to quit before your dental implant procedure. Smoking inhibits the healing process and is linked to gum recession and gum disease.
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.