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Your adult teeth should last for the rest of your life, helping you to chew and speak. But tooth loss can happen to anyone from accidents to periodontal disease. If you have one or more teeth missing from your mouth, you have options to help restore your smile. One of those that we offer at Langley Dental Care is dental implants, which provide a permanent replacement for missing teeth.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are structures surgically placed in your mouth in multiple stages that will last the rest of your life. The first stage places the titanium implant body into your jaw. Once the bone grows around the anchor, the base of the implant becomes a permanent fixture in your mouth and is ready for the abutment and crown.
Because dental implants encourage bone growth, they help you to maintain the shape of your face more than dentures. Many people with dentures experience bone loss in their jaws because the jawbone does not have teeth to hold and naturally wears away. Over time, the bone loss contributes to ill-fitting dentures that require replacement to better fit into the changing mouth. With implants, the bone has a titanium screw to hold onto, which encourages bone growth and regeneration.
Implants feel more like natural teeth than bridges or dentures. The screw replicates the action of your tooth’s root by holding onto the jawbone for a solution to permanently replace a missing tooth. These implants can stand alone or work as anchors for holding dentures in place without the need for glue or other adhesives.
Why Might You Need Dental Implants?
You might need dental implants for several reasons, all of which involve losing one or more teeth. Implants replace individual teeth or hold bridges or dentures in place, but not everyone may be a good candidate for dental implants.
You will need an evaluation by your dentist to determine if you can get implants. First, you should have enough bone in your jaw remaining to fully support the titanium screw that creates the base of the implant. Some patients without enough bone in their jaw may be able to have a bone graft, but this procedure adds to the time required for the implant.
Your gum tissues and bone must be healthy to heal after each stage of the implant procedure to avoid complications.
Finally, you must be willing to make the commitment to several surgeries over the next few months to get the permanent tooth replacement you want. While the process takes time, you will recover your ability to speak clearly, eat normally, and smile without embarrassment again.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
Dental implants work by having components that mimic the tasks of the parts of a tooth. Like the tooth root, the titanium screw fits firmly into your jaw and the bone grows around it to hold it in place. Dentists use titanium because the material won’t cause a reaction inside the body.
The abutment at the top of the screw holds the crown in place. These two parts replace the part of the tooth that you can see. Your dentist will choose a crown shape and color to match the other teeth in your mouth. Once in place, your implant will be indistinguishable from other teeth.
You may have four to six screws installed in the top or bottom jaw when used as denture anchors. The abutments for these will hold the pieces that secure permanent dentures instead of crowns. With this method of denture securing, you have a set of dentures that stays in place all the time until you visit the dentist for maintenance visits to clean under them.
Other types of implant-secured dentures allow you to remove the dentures for cleaning with bars or balls attached to the implants. Talk to your dentist about the best denture option for you if you want implant-supported dentures.
Is Getting Dental Implants Painful?
The process of getting dental implants involves some mild pain, but the dentist will ensure that you are numb before any of the surgeries. You may have minor discomfort during the healing phases, but most people never need to take time off from work aside from the surgeries.
How Long Does Getting Implants Take?
The entire process of getting implants requires at least two surgeries. The first procedure installs the base, and the second surgery attaches the abutment and crown. Overall, the process requires six to eight months. During this time, you will likely get temporary dentures to allow you to eat and speak while your mouth heals from the surgeries.
Most patients feel that the time invested in getting dental implants is worth the ability to have a permanent replacement for a tooth or a more secure way to wear dentures.
What Type of Care Do Dental Implants Need?
Once in place, your dental implants will require the same type of care that your remaining teeth have. Therefore, brush around the implant and floss around it to remove food from the area, which could cause cavities in adjacent teeth.
You should also take care to keep your teeth healthy because the crown installed on top of the implant is not as likely as your natural teeth to show stains or discoloration. Therefore, if you neglect good dental care, your dental implant crown may stand out over time instead of blending into the rest of your smile.
Finally, keep up with regular dental checkups to ensure the health of your teeth and gums.
Schedule a Visit with Langley Dental Care
If you are missing teeth or need a dental extraction and want to find out more about dental implants, contact us at Langley Dental Care in Charlotte. When you visit, you can ask the dentist, “What are dental implants, and can they work for me?” The answers about what implants are for your smile can be different depending on if you need anchors for dentures or replacements for individual teeth.
The dentist will be sure to answer your questions and help you to decide if dental implants will work for your smile and lifestyle. We want to help you get your best and healthiest smile, whether you need dental implants or another treatment.