Starting with a Smile: The Basics of Dental Implants

Dental implants can change your life – starting with your smile. But the benefits of dental implants go well beyond dazzling teeth.  

Technology has made incredible strides with dental implants and smile restoration treatments overall. Placed by experienced dental specialists known as prosthodontists, dental implants allow you to eat all your favorite foods – and they look just like your natural teeth (or better!).  

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are permanent tooth replacements. More specifically, dental implants permanently replace the tooth’s roots.

Teeth have two main parts: the root that holds the tooth securely in the jaw, and the white enamel crown that appears above the gum line. Dental implants also have two main parts: a metal post permanently implanted into the jaw, and an artificial tooth crown.

Usually made from titanium or another medical-grade metal, dental implants provide a permanent one-and-done solution to missing teeth. You can replace one tooth, or with All-On-X, replace several teeth on just one implant.

Dental Implants are Often Better than Dentures – Here’s Why

Dentures are still the most common way to replace missing teeth, but they do have some drawbacks – starting with your smile. While dentures are now made from the most natural-looking materials possible, they can still appear fake. What’s more, dentures can slip, slide, and even fall out, and usually at the worst possible times. Dentures also make some fresh fruits, vegetables, and other foods hard to eat, and this can lead to poor nutrition (and less-than-satisfying meals).  

Dental implants are also durable solutions that can preserve your dazzling smile and overall appearance in other ways. They act like natural tooth roots, for example, and this can help preserve your jawbone and natural contours of your face. Biting and chewing exert pressure on your teeth, and this pressure travels down to the tooth root and into the jawbone. There, the pressure stimulates the growth of new bone tissue. Without this stimulation, the bone tissue begins to dissolve, leaving you with less jawbone – and this can actually change the shape of your face.

Like natural teeth, dental implants transfer this pressure into your jawbone to stimulate the formation of new, strong bone tissue.  

Benefits of Dental Implants

Dental implants have a number of benefits over dentures and dental bridges. For example, dental implants:

  • Strong and stable, functions like a natural tooth
  • Beautifully matches your natural teeth
  • No more removing teeth, slurring speech, or limiting food choices
  • No impact to surrounding teeth
  • Preserves existing jawbone

The Dental Implant Procedure

During your first consultation, you and your prosthodontist will determine if dental implants are right for you, discuss the cost of dental implants, and work out a timeline for treatment based on your specific needs.  

Once a treatment plan is agreed upon, at your next appointment your dental team will administer local anesthesia to numb the treatment area, and will likely administer a sedative that makes you feel drowsy and relaxed during the procedure. Next, your prosthodontist will make a small incision in your gum to expose the jawbone, and then create a small hole that holds the implant. Finally, the dentist will place the implant and a stitch or two to close the gums.

You’ll wait several months to let the bone heal. During this time, the bone will fuse with the metal post in a process known as osseointegration. When osseointegration is complete, you’ll return to your dentist for placement of the artificial crown.

Am I a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?

Dental implants are right for almost everyone, but there are a few exceptions. You may be a good candidate for dental implants if:

  • You have one or more missing teeth
  • Your jawbone is fully formed – most prosthodontists recommend that patients wait until they are at least 18, but there are exceptions
  • You are unwilling or unable to wear dentures
  • You have enough bone tissue in your jaw to hold the dental implant, or you are able and willing to have a bone graft  
  • Your teeth, gums, and other oral tissues are healthy
  • You don’t have any health conditions, such as uncontrolled diabetes or an autoimmune disease, which would prevent you from having dental implants
  • You don’t smoke tobacco
  • You are willing to commit several months to the process

For more information about dental implants, request an appointment with Decker Dental. Our dentist in Emunclaw can help you determine if starting your smile with dental implants is right for you.

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Call 360.825.3191 or click the link below to schedule an appointment online.

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