Generally speaking, if you have lost teeth you are a candidate for dental implants. It is important that you are in good health, however, as there are some conditions and diseases that can affect whether dental implants are right for you. For example, uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, radiation to the jaws, smoking, alcoholism, or uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease may affect whether dental implants will fuse to your bone. It is important to let your dental surgeon know all about your medical status (past and present) together with all medications you are taking, whether prescribed, alternative (herbal) or over-the-counter.
Where and how implants are placed requires a detailed assessment of your overall stomato-gnathic system (“stoma” – mouth; “gnathic” – jaws), within which the teeth function. This will necessitate compiling records that include study models of your mouth and bite, and specialized radiographs (x-rays), which may include 3D scans known as computerized tomograms (CT scans). Planning with the help of computer imaging ensures that dental implants can be placed in exactly the right position in the bone.
The placement of dental implants is a multi-step process that typically takes between 6 and 9 months to complete, and may extend to over a year if your case is complex. It begins with a surgical procedure during which a titanium rod is placed where a previous natural tooth root once was. The gums are sutured shut over the implant, where is will stay for several months while it heals and begins fusing with the surrounding bone. Due to the nature of implant placement and its average procedure time of between 1 and 2 hours, you’ll be anesthetized for the duration of the treatment. At the conclusion of the healing period ranging 3 to 6 months, you’ll return to be fitted for permanent crowns and have them placed.
It is normal to experience some discomfort, including bleeding, bruising and swelling following a dental implant procedure. However, inflammation and pain may be managed with prescription medications, antibiotics, pain killers, and oral rinses. You may be asked to eat only liquid for 2 days and soft foods approximately 2 weeks until the surgical site heals.
Bone needs stimulation to maintain its form and density. In the case of alveolar (sac-like) bone that surrounds and supports teeth, the necessary stimulation comes from the teeth themselves. When a tooth is lost, the lack of stimulation causes loss of alveolar bone. There is a 25% decrease in width of bone during the first year after tooth loss and an overall decrease in height over the next few years.
The more teeth lost, the more function lost. This leads to some particularly serious aesthetic and functional problems, particularly in people who have lost all of their teeth. And it doesn’t stop there. After alveolar bone is lost, the bone beneath it, basal bone — the jawbone proper — also begins to resorb (melt away).
Grafting bone into the extraction sockets at the time of tooth loss or removal can help preserve bone volume needed for implant placement. Surgical techniques are also available to regenerate (re-grow) bone that has been lost, to provide the necessary bone substance for anchoring implants. In fact, a primary reason to consider dental implants to replace missing teeth is the maintenance of jawbone.
Bone needs stimulation to stay healthy. Because dental implants fuse to the bone, they stabilize it and prevent further bone loss. Resorption is a normal and inevitable process in which bone is lost when it is no longer supporting or connected to teeth. Only dental implants can stop this process and preserve the bone.
It takes a dental team to assess and plan dental implant placement and restoration — the fabrication of the crowns, bridgework or dentures that attach atop the implants and are visible in your mouth. The dental team consists of a dental surgical specialist — a periodontist, oral surgeon, or a general dentist with advanced training in implant surgery; a restorative dentist, who plans and places the tooth restorations; and a dental laboratory technician who fabricates them.
According to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every two American adults aged 30 and over has periodontal disease. However, the only way of knowing for sure whether you have periodontal disease is via a professional dental exam. Keep in mind that you may have periodontal disease and be asymptomatic; so be sure to visit your dentist for a thorough exam and cleaning at least twice per year.
Your treatment will depend on whether you are diagnosed with gingivitis or periodontitis. Minor cases of periodontal disease are usually treated with a thorough cleaning and topical antibiotic. If, however, your periodontal tissues have begun to deteriorate and your gums have begun pulling away from your teeth, you may require a more complex treatment, such as gum surgery or bone and gum grafting.
Yes. Periodontal disease can reoccur – especially if you do not make any changes to your brushing and flossing habits. By brushing after every meal, flossing once daily, avoiding tobacco, and getting frequent professional dental cleanings, you could help prevent periodontal disease from returning in the future.
If you have one or more risk factors for periodontal disease, it is especially important that you visit your dentist for periodic exams. A thorough examination can reveal gingivitis in its early stages, allowing for easier and more conservative treatment options. If you are experiencing symptoms of periodontal disease, such as gum inflammation or bleeding, schedule a periodontal visit immediately.
Depending on the extent of your gum disease, you may require a deep tooth cleaning and polishing (scaling and root planing), gum surgery, and perhaps bone or gum grafting.
Your post-treatment recovery will vary depending on the type of treatment you undergo. However, we will evaluate your risk factors to determine what types of habits may have contributed to the development of periodontal disease. You may be advised to make lifestyle changes to help prevent recurrences of gum disease in the future.
You may need to visit an orthodontist if one or more of your teeth are improperly aligned, overly crowded, incorrectly fit for a good bite. Keep in mind that it is never too late to see an orthodontist – whether child or adult. Early treatments for children may start as early as age five, and continue on with a second phase treatment around age 12.
Your orthodontist will conduct an exam and use diagnostic imaging technology to determine the health of your tooth structure and whether orthodontic treatment is right for you. Orthodontic treatments usually involve the use of appliances like braces, space maintainers or jaw repositioning devices.
Orthodontic treatment have multiple benefits and are not limited to: allow growth of permanent teeth, guide growth of emerging teeth, avoid crowding of permanent teeth, correct bite and reduce or eliminate jaw pain, create functional arrangement of teeth, improve aesthetic purposes, boost self-esteem and confidence.
Depending on the results of your visit, you may be asked to return for additional exams or follow-up visits in the future.