Dental implants are a great option for anyone who is missing teeth and can’t or won’t wear dentures. Dental implant surgery requires several months of healing time as your body works to build strong bone growth over the screws/pins used to secure the new teeth.
If you’re considering dental implants and want to learn more, this guide will take you through the procedure and what you can expect at each stage. Dental implants aren’t for everyone as there are specific criteria to meet in order to be a good candidate. Keep reading to find out if this dental procedure is right for you.
What are Dental Implants and Why Are They Used?
Dental implants are artificial teeth that are secured to the jawbone using metal screws/pins. Once healed after implant surgery, the new teeth are secure, looking and acting just like real teeth. Since dentures and bridgework often fit poorly, dental implants offer a solid alternative, especially if there aren’t enough natural teeth roots in which to build dentures or bridgework upon.
Dental implant surgery may be right for you if:
- Your jawbone is fully grown
- You have missing teeth
- You have enough bone to secure the implants to or can have a bone graft
- You have a healthy mouth
- You don’t have any conditions that may impede healing
- You can’t or won’t wear dentures
- You want to improve speech
- You are willing/able to commit to months of healing
What are the Risks Associated with Dental Implants?
As with any surgery, dental implant surgery poses certain risks. Risk factors are low, and if they do occur, are often minor.
- Infection at the surgery site
- Injury to surrounding blood vessels or teeth
- Nerve damage causing tingling, pain, or numbness in surrounding teeth, gums, chin, or lips
- Sinus problems with upper jaw placement
What Steps are Involved in Dental Implant Surgery
Dental implant surgery is usually a multi-step process that takes several months to complete. Most of that time is spent healing and waiting for the bone to grow around the implant. While some of the steps may be combined, you can expect to go through the steps outlined below.
- Removal of damaged teeth
- Jawbone prep/bone graft – Your jawbone may be too soft or not thick enough to support a dental implant. Natural bone grafts from other parts of your body or synthetic bone grafts are used to build up the jawbone.
- Placement of the dental implant – the surgeon cuts the gum where the implant will be and drills holes into the bone to place the screw-like pins that will eventually hold the abutment.
- Healing and bone growth
- Placement of the abutment – The abutment is the part of the implant that holds the artificial tooth/crown. This is sometimes attached at the same time as the implant placement, but if not, it’s a separate surgical procedure.
- Placement of the artificial tooth – Once your implant is healed and deemed strong enough to withstand use, you will choose the type of crown or artificial tooth you want. This crown can be removable or fixed and your implant doctor can help you decide.
What to Expect After Dental Implant Surgery
Whether your dental implant surgery is done in one step or several, you can expect some level of discomfort. These discomforts may be mild to severe and may include:
- Swelling of the gums and face
- Pain at the surgery site
- Bruising of the surrounding tissues
- Minor bleeding
If swelling or bleeding is severe or your pain becomes too much to bear, call your oral surgeon immediately.
Depending on your doctor and your specific situation, your doctor may prescribe pain medication and/or antibiotics for you to take after surgery. You will likely have sutures at the surgery site. Most surgeons use sutures that dissolve on their own, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to go back in to have them removed.
What are the Final Results of Dental Implant Surgery?
Dental implant surgery is successful for most people. Sometimes, however, jawbone fails to fuse properly around the implant. When this happens, the surgeon removes the implant, cleans up the area, and waits for it to heal. You may try the implant surgery again in a few months.
You can help increase the success of your dental implant surgery and help your implants last longer by:
- Keeping your mouth clean – Brushing and flossing as recommended and using the proper tooth care tools can help your implants last for a long time.
- Schedule regular appointments with your dentist – Get regular checkups and cleanings
- Avoid damaging behaviors – Don’t eat hard foods such as ice or hard candy and stay away from tooth-staining habits like smoking and coffee-drinking. If you grind your teeth, get treatment to stop it.
Where to go for Dental Implants in the South Bay
California is a state full of beautiful people, but if you hide your smile because of missing teeth or because your dentures slip, dental implants might be right for you. Regain your confidence and smile big once again by calling Dr. Hong at the California Dental Specialty Group (CDSG).
At CDSG, we understand how important having beautiful teeth is to you. Whether you’ve lost a tooth, had teeth removed, or a tooth never grew in, we can fill that empty space with a natural looking and functioning dental implant you can be proud to show off. Simply give us a call at (408) 749-9888 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hong, a highly-trained implant dentist. With our help and your dedication, we will build you a smile you won’t want to hide anymore.