Dental Implant FAQs
Dental implants are often the best treatment for missing teeth. When a damaged or decayed tooth is removed, both the visible part of the tooth, called the crown, and the root are lost.
A dental implant is placed in the jawbone so that it can fuse with your natural bone and become a strong and sturdy foundation for replacement teeth. Implants can be used to replace an individual tooth or for an implant-supported bridge or denture containing multiple teeth.
Dental implants are the closest you can get to healthy, natural teeth. They will allow you to confidently eat, smile, laugh, talk, play, and enjoy all of your regular activities of everyday life without thinking about your teeth.
Dental implants have three components:
- Dental Implant – A cylindrical and/or tapered post, usually made of titanium, that serves as a substitute for the tooth root. There are dozens of manufacturers of Dental Implants on the market today. Dr. Bruce Smoler researches the literature to offer his patients the best treatment possible based upon the science of bone healing and bone health. Some manufacturers are more interested in being the cheapest of the easiest one to place. The implant surface coating and threat design are major factors Dr. Smoler takes into account for his patients health and well being.
- Abutment – A connector, placed on, or built into, the top of the dental implant, to connect the implant to the replacement tooth or teeth. There are 3 main types of abutments: stock, angled and custom made from titanium alloy, gold or white ceramic or zirconimum. Individual clinical needs helps to determine the best option for each patient.
- Crown – A replacement tooth, custom made to match your natural teeth. Usually made from either porcelain fused to metal or an all porcelain type of crown (cap).
Dental implant patients are all ages, and implants may be the right choice for anyone missing one, multiple, or even all of their teeth due to injury, defects, disease, or decay. They can even be an option for adolescents after puberty when the jaw stops growing.
Dr. Smoler can determine if dental implants are right for you after a thorough consultation that evaluates your needs and medical history.
Teeth restored with dental implants look, feel, and function just like natural teeth. You brush, floss, and visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings, same as you would care for a natural tooth.
After meeting with Dr. Smoler to develop your treatment plan, the placement of a dental implant usually involves several steps:
- The dental implant, usually a cylindrical and/or tapered post made of titanium, is placed surgically into the jawbone.
- As you heal, your implant will fuse with your natural jawbone to form a strong and long-lasting foundation for your replacement teeth. This healing process can take weeks to months.
- Once the implant bonds with the jawbone, a small connector – called an abutment – is placed on top of the dental implant to connect the implant to the replacement tooth or teeth.
- An individual tooth, an implant-supported bridge or dentures containing multiple teeth are then attached to the abutment.
Why are dental implants often the first choice and a standard of care compared to other options to restore missing or damaged teeth?
- Next best thing to healthy, natural teeth. - Strong and stable, a dental implant restores a lost tooth so that it looks, feels, fits and functions like a natural tooth. Other options can lead to bone deterioration, and may interfere with eating, smiling, speaking, and other activities of everyday life.
- Built to last. - Dental implants are a long-term solution. Traditional, tooth-supported dental bridges only last five to seven years, but at some point they may need to be replaced. While dental implants may need periodic adjustments, they can last a lifetime when properly placed and cared for over time.
- Enjoy life without worrying about your teeth! - No need to stay home or feel uncomfortable in public, embarrassed because your smile looks different, or worrying that missing teeth will limit your ability to enjoy life. Teeth restored with dental implants are teeth that let you, not your teeth, lead your life.
- Retain your natural face shape and smile. - A face without teeth can sag and appear sunken and sad. Dental implants allow you to maintain the natural shape of your face and smile.
- Protect healthy bone. - Leaving empty spaces in your mouth after losing one or more teeth can lead to additional health issues, such as the loss and deterioration of some of your jawbone. When it is not being used to support a natural tooth, the jawbone deteriorates, losing its strength and firmness. Dental implants are the only dental restoration option that preserves and stimulates natural bone, actually helping to stimulate bone growth and prevent bone loss.
- Keep your teeth in your mouth – not in a cup. - Dental implants allow you to keep your teeth where they belong – in your mouth. No more worrying that your dentures might slip or fall out. Brush, floss, and, care for teeth that have been replaced using dental implants exactly the way you would natural teeth.
- Speak easy. - Adjusting to removable dentures can mean struggling to pronounce everyday words. Not so with dental implants, which function like natural teeth.
- Eat your favorite foods! - Taste and enjoy the foods you love without hesitation. You can bite naturally, eat virtually anything you want and, unlike removable dentures that can feel uncomfortable, you can experience the full taste of the food you eat with dental implants, too.
- Look Mom, no cavities! - Cavities can’t occur in an implant-restored crown, or replacement tooth; however, you will need to visit your dentist as scheduled and clean and care for it and your gums and mouth every day, the same as you would if it were a natural tooth.
- Keep teeth in place – silently. - Dentures may slip when you eat, talk, smile, laugh, kiss, yawn, or cough, so that you have to “reposition” them back into place in the mouth. Dental implants are fixed in place and fuse naturally with your jawbone, meaning your replacement teeth won’t move, click, or shift.
- Protect your healthy teeth. - Placing a tooth-supported bridge requires grinding away the teeth on one or both sides of the missing tooth or teeth – thereby damaging healthy teeth to restore those that are missing. The modified healthy teeth are attached to, and support, the bridge. Dental implants go in the jawbone, in the spot where your missing tooth root was, without impacting healthy teeth. They also help prevent healthy, adjacent teeth from shifting as they would if an empty space were left for an extended period of time.
- More predictable than other repair and restoration methods. - Dental implant treatment has a track record of reliable, long-term successful outcomes and is often considered “more predictable” than other treatments to repair or replace missing teeth, including bridgework, removable appliances, and retreatment of failing root canal (endodontic) therapy.
Proven safe and effective at replacing missing teeth, contemporary dental implants have been in use for more than 30 years.
Dental implants are typically made of titanium, a biocompatible material that is accepted by the body and serves as a strong and sturdy foundation for replacement teeth. Your natural bone locks the implant into place by fusing, or attaching itself, to the implant. This process, known as osseointegration, gives teeth replaced using implants the stability and strength to support replacement teeth, withstand daily use, and function like regular teeth.
Dental implant surgery is one of the safest and most predictable procedures in dentistry when performed by a trained and experienced dental implant dentist, such as Dr. Smoler. A dental implant is the strongest device available to support replacement teeth, and it allows your replacement teeth to feel, look, and work naturally. In addition, dental implants are the only restoration method that stimulates your natural bone underneath the missing tooth.
If you’re missing one or more teeth, probably so! Nearly anyone in good health whose jaw has finished growing is a candidate, whether they were simply born without a tooth or lost one or more teeth due to injury, decay, gum (periodontal) disease, infection, or another reason. Dental implants also are a great option for patients who don’t want the drawbacks of, or can no longer wear, removable dentures.
The best way to determine if you are a candidate is to contact Smoler Smiles for a free evaluation.
Caring for teeth restored with dental implants is just like caring for your natural teeth: brush, floss, and maintain regular dental cleanings and check-ups, as scheduled. Additional cleaning aids also may be recommended to help you keep your teeth healthy at home.
As is the case with natural teeth, you and Dr. Smoler must work as a team to ensure the longevity of your dental implant. While replacement teeth can't get cavities, they are subject to the same wear and tear as natural teeth. Well-placed and cared for dental implants have the potential to last a lifetime.
Dental implant information provided courtesy of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry