Crowns and conventional bridges or dentures may not be your only options when replacing missing teeth. Dental implants offer a smile that looks and feels very natural. Surgically placed below the gums over a series of appointments, implants fuse to the jawbone and serve as a base for individual replacement teeth, bridges or a denture.
Implants offer stability because they fuse to your bone. Integration of the implants into your jaw also helps your replacement teeth feel more natural and some people find the secure fit more comfortable than conventional substitutes.
Candidates for dental implants need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. A thorough evaluation by your Oakmont Dental Associates dentist, Dr. Stoner, will help determine whether you are a good candidate for dental implants.
Single Tooth Implants
Dental implants are the most realistic tooth replacements available. Implants begin with a surgically placed post that is securely anchored into the jawbone. The bone surrounding the anchor will heal in approximately six months. With a completely solid and stable anchor point, an artificial tooth is then installed. The end result is a new artificial tooth that is virtually indistinguishable from a natural tooth, both from an aesthetic and functional standpoint. In cases where several teeth are missing, dental implants can also act as the teeth to which bridges are fixed, again perfectly mimicking the function of healthy, natural teeth. When many teeth are lost, two or more single implants can act as the support for complete or partial dentures.
Fixed bridges, partial dentures or complete dentures may be considered if dental implants are not possible.
Mini Dental Implants
Dentists use mini dental implants to stabilize removable dentures. Dentists can also use them for temporary tooth replacement. Like regular dental implants, mini implants are made of metal alloys that are well tolerated by the body. Mini implants are more slender and are not as durable as regular implants.
Mini dental implants cost significantly less than regular implants. Because they are smaller, they may be suitable for patients without enough bone to support regular dental implants. In some cases, mini implants may be used to support a crown or fixed bridge.
In many cases, your Oakmont Dental Associates dentist can place the mini dental implants in the bone without making a surgical incision in the gums, placing them directly through the gums and into the underlying bone in one visit. Generally, the only anesthetic necessary is a local injection. Nitrous oxide analgesia is always available at no additional charge for patients at Oakmont Dental Associates. Minimal discomfort may be experienced after treatment, but this can be controlled by pain medication prescribed by the dentist.
When used to support a removable denture, four to six mini dental implant posts are placed in the jaw. The patient's existing denture is adjusted and attached to the posts. Unlike conventional dental implants, which often require a longer healing period and multiple visits, a mini dental implant-supported denture can be placed in one visit that usually takes less than two hours. The patient leaves the dental office with a solid denture and generally can begin eating the same day.
For some patients, additional steps may be needed to prepare the jaw before mini dental implants are placed. Your Oakmont Dental Associates dentist, Dr. Stoner, can develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
While you are adjusting to your new implants, avoid foods that are sticky or very hard. Most dentists recommend an antiseptic mouthwash and careful cleaning around each implant post with a cotton swab for a few days after treatment. With a little practice you will be able to remove and insert an implant-supported denture easily, which allows you to maintain good oral hygiene every day. After healing, Dr. Stoner recommends cleaning the implants with a soft toothbrush.
If you have other natural teeth present, brush them twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Floss or use another interdental cleaner once a day. Schedule regular dental checkups with your dentist to keep your mouth healthy.
Like natural teeth, dental implants can be affected by wear and tear, stressful biting or grinding, osteoporosis, poor oral hygiene, tobacco use, or lack of follow-up dental examinations. Don't delay recommended radiographs, cleanings and examinations. Prevention is the key to good health. Overall health is directly related to oral health. Schedule regular dental checkups so you can enjoy a healthy mouth and a healthy body.