Are you looking for the perfect solution for tooth loss? Find out whether dental implants are the right option for you!
What is a Dental Implant?
Dental implants (also known as dental fixtures) are surgical components implanted into the jaw, meant to hold dental pro such as dental crowns, a bridge, or dentures in place. They are usually made of titanium or other materials where the bone under the missing tooth could easily bond in a process called osseointegration.
Who Can Get Dental Fixtures?
Before your San Diego implant dentist decides to move forward with implant surgery, you will have to go through a series of tests involving your gums and the bone of the missing tooth. Your overall health – and not just your oral health – is essential to determining whether or not you are a good candidate for dental fixtures.
Note: Pregnant women, people with heart and lung conditions, and others with underlying health issues may not be allowed to get implants because they could develop complications with the anesthesia.
Aside from knowing your overall health, it is also essential for the oral surgeon to know the condition of the area where the implant is to be placed. You must have healthy gums, with no sign of infection or disease. The amount of bone in the location is even more essential. If there is less bone mass left, or if it has deformed over years of denture use or lack of a tooth, the dentist will have to figure out if bone grafting will work or not.
To determine this, your oral surgeon needs to take a panoramic X-ray of your mouth. A panoramic X-ray (a full dental X-ray from one side of your mouth to the other) shows your dentist the overall condition of your mouth and not just the immediate area around the implant location.
How Do You Get Dental Implants?
Oral surgeons drill a hole in the bone and place the implant carefully into it. Knowing the precise location and size of the implant is essential, not only in ensuring the proper placement of the implant itself but also to ensure your comfort. This is why it is necessary for dentists to perform a 3D digital X-ray or cone scan. This scan provides a 3D image of the mouth and allows the dentist to plan the placement of the implant from virtually all angles.
When the implants are placed, the gums are given time to heal before an abutment (the ceramic piece on top of the implant “screw” where the tooth is attached) is placed. Depending on the rate at which the implant integrates with the bone and the healing time of the surrounding gum tissues, adding the crown or the artificial tooth to the abutment can take between three to six months from placing the implant screw.
Pros and Cons of Getting Dental Implants
- Dental implants are permanent. As long as it is properly placed, allowed to heal, and maintained properly, dental implants are basically there for good. You may notice discoloration or chips in the ‘tooth’ but it can be easily replaced without having to touch the implant itself. This makes them more cost-efficient than other options (e.g. bridges, dentures).
- Dental implants look, feel, and function like real teeth. Dental implants are made to be exact copies of real teeth. They have the same chewing power of actual teeth and you don’t risk them slipping while chewing or talking because they are attached to the bone. If you get them done by a reliable dental implant specialist in San Diego, you can rest assured that the crowns were designed to look exactly like one of your natural teeth surrounding it. Done perfectly, it’s hard to tell that implants are not real teeth.
- They don’t damage the surrounding teeth. Compared to bridges, where the next tooth could be compromised, implants do not harm the surrounding teeth.
- They can get a bit pricey. Compared to its temporary counterparts like dentures and bridges, dental implants require a series of procedures and the cost can add up.
- Healing takes a lot of time. Proper healing of the gums, as well as bone integration to the implant screw, is essential for the success of dental implants but it can take months. It also requires a lot of maintenance as it heals – as well as trips to the dentist – to ensure that bone growth and recovery is going well.
Done right, dental implants have an impressive 98% success rate. If you want to learn more about San Diego implant dentistry, or if you want to find out if you’re a good candidate for implants, call us! Contact our San Diego office at 858-255-9689 to set an appointment with our oral surgeon!