What exactly are dental implants and what can they do for me?
Implants are substitutes for teeth and they are today's best alternative to your natural teeth. They offer you a permanent or secure solution for replacing one or more teeth.
They are made of biocompatible materials, just the same as hip implants or similar orthopaedic devices, and function as anchors or support for traditional forms of dentistry, such as crowns, bridges or dentures.
There are numerous other reasons to choose dental implants:
Aesthetically, they support teeth that look like real teeth. Functionally, dental implants feel and act like real teeth.
With implants, you can eat and chew again without pain or irritation. Foods that were forbidden are now back in the diet.
Implants eliminate the need for distasteful adhesives. There is no longer a need to use "glue" when your prosthesis is anchored to implants.
Implants can actually improve the taste of food. With less plastic covering the roof of your mouth, you can enjoy natural flavors and sensations again.
Lastly, implants can help maintain your bone structure and support your facial tissues. They can reduce or eliminate bone atrophy, which causes "shrinkage" or facial cosmetic changes.
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Are implants successful?
Implants, as we know them today, have been in existence for at least twenty-five years. For the last ten years, however, success rates are consistently over 95% with proper personal and professional care.
What is the procedure like?
There are actually four stages to implant dentistry:
Using very accurate surgical techniques, an incision is made in the gum tissues and implants are placed into dimensionally controlled sites (depth and width) in the jawbone. In some cases, if the specialist is placing a 2 stage dental implant (not a single stage dental implant) the gum tissues are then closed and the healing phase begins. This may take anywhere from 3-6 months to ensure a strong base.
This is the final surgical stage of a 2 stage dental implant treatment (this is only done in some cases). At this appointment, an incision is made in the gum tissues and an abutment placed onto the implant. A temporary crown or bridge is then placed onto the implant and the gum tissue closed.
Creating and fixing the new tooth or teeth to the implant structure constitutes the third and fourth stage. This is usually completed by your general dentist at their rooms two months after your second stage. At the third appointment, your temporary crown/bridge will be removed and an impression taken of the implant. This allows for your final and permanent crown to be made by the dental laboratory and usually takes two weeks.
This appointment consists of removing your temporary crown/bridge and placing the final and permanent crown or bridge.
How much do they cost?
Each case is different. Cost is a function of your particular needs. After a complete examination, your doctor will more specifically determine your dental needs and the best treatment alternative(s) for you. At that point, you can specifically address the question of cost.
Initially, you might feel dental implants are expensive. However, they represent a more permanent and natural solution than dentures and partials. Thus, there is a greater initial investment. They should last for years, particularly if you have an "ideal" case.
Does it hurt?
Usually, discomfort is not a problem. In fact, many have said that having a tooth pulled was more painful! For the placement of an implant(s), your doctor will use one of many anaesthetic regimens so there won't be any discomfort. When you leave the office, you will be given appropriate medications and analgesics. Your doctor(s) and their office teams are available at any time to make sure that you are comfortable.
What benefits can I really expect?
Eat whatever you like! Implants improve your health with the ability to chew a wider variety of foods.
Smile with confidence. Discoloured or missing teeth ruin your appearance. Implant supported restorations help increase your self-esteem. People will approach you more readily.
Express yourself clearly or simply be understood. Implants increase the retention and stability of your teeth.
Improve your external facial structure and decrease the likelihood of continued bone loss. Your jaw and teeth will smile together.
How long will it take?
Recent advances by implant manufacturers are reducing the time for initial implant procedures. Treatment for the simple cases could take anywhere from 3-9 months, based on where the implants are placed and the type of restoration you desire. Do not compromise because your implants and the new teeth that they support should last for years.
Will I be without teeth?
You will never be without teeth. Your doctor will make sure that in the interim period, you look and feel very natural.
How do I take care of my implants?
Normal routine home care and professional cleaning visits are required. It is important to know that every 3-4 months, you will need to have a routine cleaning and re-care treatment and evaluation. An individualized program will be designed for you to optimally care for your new teeth.
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