When a tooth is lost, it is important that it be replaced as quickly as possible. If it is not replaced, teeth near the space begin to move. The result is a collapsing of the bite and an unstable bite relationship. The risk of periodontal disease around these teeth increases significantly.
Tooth replacement may be done in many ways. If the tooth is to be replaced by a permanent structure that is not removed daily, then a fixed bridge or single tooth implant may be recommended. While a fixed bridge may be completed in a shorter time, it has the disadvantage of requiring that the teeth adjacent to the space be filed down, removing all the enamel from the teeth. A three unit bridge is then cemented into place. Over time, the bridge may have to be replaced due to decay.
Dental implants eliminate this problem. A pure titanium cylinder or screw is gently placed into the bone. It heals for 3-8 months, and the bone surrounding it attaches to the implant and stabilizes it. Once it has healed, a single crown is placed on it by your restorative dentist. Your surrounding teeth do not need to be filed down. Dental implants are a reliable and esthetically pleasing solution to replacing lost teeth.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q: How long does a single implant procedure take?
A: The visit to perform the procedure is about an hour long. If additional implants are placed in the same appointment, the procedure will take slightly longer. Depending upon the type of implant placed, a 15-20 minute visit may be necessary in 3-6 months to uncover the top of the implant and place a healing cap.
Q: Will the implant procedure hurt?
A: Only local anesthetic is necessary to place the implant. During the visit, you will feel nothing once the area has been numbed. When the anesthetic wears off, there will be some mild discomfort. Medication will be prescribed to control any discomfort you might experience.
Q: Will I be able to resume my normal activities after the procedure?
A: It is recommended that you limit your physical activity for 48 hours after the procedure. This means not doing anything that will raise your heart rate such as lifting heavy objects, exercising, etc. The procedure should not cause you to miss work.
Q: Will I be able to drive myself home?
A: Unless you choose to take a relaxant, you should be able to drive yourself to and from your appointment. We are not going to impair your ability to drive.
Q: Will I be able to speak and eat normally after the procedure?
A: You should be able to speak normally after the anesthetic has worn off. It is best to wait until the anesthesia has worn off after surgery before eating. If you have trouble chewing, soft foods are recommended. Resume your normal diet as soon as possible; however, it is recommended that you avoid crunchy or spicy foods.
Q: How well do implants work?
A: Implants are highly predictable and successful. When placed correctly and solid bone forms around the implant, the implant can last a lifetime. It is important to realize that if an implant fails, it is not a rejection or infection phenomenon. If the bone does not attach to the implant, it will become loose and cannot be used. In this case, the implant is removed and replaced with another one, which almost always succeeds.