For patients looking for long-lasting, natural-looking tooth restoration, dental implants are the way to go. Dentures and dental bridges are typically less expensive than dental implants, but the security and longevity of implants make them the preferred choice for patients who can afford the cost and the time involved. Dental implants are safe and are the most like real teeth compared to any other restoration approach.
Dental Implant Procedure
If you want a quality dental implant, you will not be in, out, and finished in a single day. Getting dental implants requires at least one surgical procedure along with some periods of healing spread out over time, all of which can take anywhere from six weeks to several months for optimum results. The basic steps include:
- Tooth extraction and bone graft—We remove any remaining parts of the tooth or tooth root. Then, we apply a bone graft to create a solid base for the implant. In a minority of cases, the natural bone is healthy and substantial enough for us to place the implant at the same appointment, but for most people, 2-6 months of healing time is required between the tooth extraction/bone graft and the placement of the implant.
- Dental implant placement—At your next appointment (after the extraction site and bone graft have healed and strengthened), we will place the implant into the jawbone.
- Osseointegration—The bone around the implant will need 2-6 months to grow tight around the dental implant in a process called osseointegration. This full integration of the dental implant with the bone is what makes dental implants so strong and effective.
- Artificial tooth application—Although, in some cases, we can apply the artificial tooth at the same time as placing the dental implant, in most cases, the artificial restoration will not be applied until after osseointegration. Once the dental implant is strong enough, you will come back into the office, and we will place a customized artificial tooth (also called a restoration or a crown), over the implant.
What You Will Feel
Some discomfort may occur, similar to getting a tooth pulled after each surgical appointment, however the procedures themselves are all painless. Your mouth will be numb, and at LifeSmiles, we can even provide IV sedation when it makes sense for certain patients.
After your gums have healed from the dental implant, we will take impressions of your teeth to create a natural-looking replacement for your missing tooth or teeth. This process is painless, and you should experience no discomfort afterward. But it may be hard to patiently wait for your restoration to be finished and ready to apply. The anticipation of what the restoration will be like can be a challenge, but patients are usually very excited and satisfied once the restoration has been successfully applied.
Risks and Expectations
The dental implant process takes a few months to complete, so you may be given temporary crowns, dentures, or bridges to use during the healing process if the situation warrants it. Some patients may experience mild bleeding after the procedures. Mild aches or discomfort is normal. You will probably be given antibiotics as a precaution to prevent infection, but infections are very rare with dental implants. A full review of your medical history will be performed to make sure you do not have any conditions that would complicate the dental implant process.
The vast majority (98%) of dental implants are successful. The replacement tooth will require the same kinds of home care as your natural teeth (e.g., brushing, flossing) to keep the gums healthy, but the implant will not decay over time. You will have a strong, permanent artificial tooth that will stick with you for the long haul. Their reliability and durability are why implants have become the standard of care for tooth restoration. The process may take a long time, but patients can enjoy a much more natural appearance and functionality with implants compared to dentures or bridges.
Dental Implant Expertise
Talk to us today about your tooth restoration to see if dental implants are right for you. Dr. Randy Mitchmore has the expertise to ensure you experience a smooth transition from tooth extraction to restoration placement. We are here for you whenever you need us, so schedule an appointment today.