Dental implants can accomplish much more than replacing missing teeth. In many cases, we can use dental implants to replace dentures that do not fit well or are starting to become loose. If your teeth are missing, dental implants are the best solution for replacing them. If one takes too long to replace missing teeth with dental implants, then one risks the jaw shrinking from resorption. The sooner you replace your teeth with implants, the less resorption that will occur.
In short, osseointegration. Dental implants are the only tooth replacement that we surgically place into the jaw. To complete the procedure, we insert a titanium post under the gums and secure it to the jawbone. The body responds to titanium as if it were a natural tooth and the two will eventually fuse together through the process of osseointegration. During this process, the jawbone will provide the same level of support to the new tooth as it did to the natural one.
With dental implants, a patient can eat all of his or her favorite foods, bite down with confidence, run a marathon and even eat a plate of ribs without worrying about the teeth falling out (something that could not happen with dentures). Dental implants will also prevent the process of resorptions, in which the body leeches calcium from the gaps in the jaw to use elsewhere in the body. A dental implant stimulates the jaw to prevent this process and allow the individual to maintain a full and functional smile.
If one is ready to get begin the dental implant process, we encourage the individual to schedule a dental exam. We will conduct a physical examination to determine if there are any oral health problems that need treatment prior to the procedure. For example, if an individual has gum disease, we will need to treat it before proceeding to the dental implant procedure.
Next, we will take X-rays to determine if the patient has enough bone density to support an implant. If he or she does not, we may recommend that the patient goes through a bone grafting procedure to strengthen the jaw or consider an alternative type of implant. Once the patient is ready for the procedure, we will schedule the surgery. We can complete the surgery in a couple of hours while the patient remains under anesthesia. Understandably, the more implants one needs, the longer the surgery will take. Afterward, the patient will need to recover by being careful of what he or she eats, taking ibuprofen and using an ice pack to reduce swelling.
Once the gums heal, the patient can wear a temporary denture until the process of osseointegration is complete. While the process can take a couple of months, it is worth the wait because it ensures the stability of the dental implant, which is then attached in our Vista office. Essentially, the total process can take several months to complete but each individual step only takes a couple of hours or less.
For missing teeth, there are no solutions that are quite as secure as dental implants, a stronger alternative to dentures.