The popularity of dental implants has increased considerably. Even though you may have good dental health, you can still experience tooth loss. If you’re missing teeth and have decided bridgework or dentures aren’t for you, an excellent, long-lasting alternative is dental implant surgery, which can drastically enhance your smile and improve your quality of life.
If you’re considering dental implant surgery, you likely have a lot of questions. One of the prime questions probably is, Why get dental implants? You might even have some doubt — these potent, small restorations may seem just a little too good to be true. However, once you learn more about them, you’ll see the benefits of implants.
Patients in Fountain Hills and Rio Verde, Ariz., considering dental implants to replace their damaged or lost teeth will benefit from reading this guide on dental implants, learning why they’re a better option and finding out what to expect with the whole process.
What Are Dental Implants?
Before we go in-depth with dental implants, let’s cover what dental implants are.
Implants are a tooth root replacement. They provide a stable foundation for permanent or removable replacement teeth. They’re designed to match your natural teeth. They’re the strongest missing tooth replacement options available and allow your teeth to look, feel and function naturally.
The demand for implants is rising, partly because of more public awareness surrounding this procedure and because they have a high success rate.
Why You Should Get Dental Implants
You have three main tooth replacement options:
- Dental implant
- Fixed dental bridge cemented to other teeth
- Removable dental appliance, also called a partial or complete denture
While dentures are a more affordable option for replacing teeth, they’re the least desirable since having a removable appliance in your mouth can be inconvenient. Also, dentures can affect your sensory experience and taste with food.
Bridges were the more common option for restoring teeth before dental implants gained popularity. But, bridgework is dependent on the support of your existing teeth. Dental implants only require bone for support and don’t affect your neighboring natural teeth.
At this point, you may be asking yourself, “Why should I get dental implants?” Numerous factors play a role in which option you choose, including:
- Your health: The location of your missing teeth or tooth, as well as the quality and quantity of your jawbone where the dentist would place an implant, can determine the right choice for you.
- The cost: Implants are likely to be more costly up front, but they won’t need to be replaced as often as bridges or dentures.
- Your personal preference: Dentists use dental implants to replace one or more teeth — in some cases all the teeth. The teeth replacement goal is to restore function and enhance aesthetics. Plus, if you don’t replace your missing teeth, it can be damaging.
Since the dentist can replace missing teeth without altering or affecting your adjacent teeth, it makes dental implants a conservative option. And, since they integrate into your bone structure, they’re incredibly stable and feel and appear just like your own natural teeth.
Dental Implants Benefits
The many benefits of dental implants include:
- Improved comfort: Since implants become part of you, it eliminates the discomfort removable dentures would cause.
- Improved appearance: Implants feel and look just like your own natural teeth. Since they fuse with bone, they’re permanent.
- Simpler eating: It can be difficult to chew with sliding dentures. Implants work the same as your own teeth and allow you to eat all types of food without pain and with confidence.
- Improved speech: Dentures that don’t fit properly can cause slipping of your teeth inside your mouth, making you slur or mumble your words. Implants, however, allow you to speak confidently since they won’t slip.
- Improved oral health: With implants, the dentist doesn’t need to reduce other teeth as they would with a tooth-supported bridge. Since implants don’t require the dentist to alter nearby teeth, it leaves more of your natural teeth intact and improves your long-term oral health. There’s also easier access between teeth with individual implants, improving oral hygiene.
- Improved self-esteem: Implants help bring your smile back and improve your self-esteem, making you feel better about yourself.
- Durability: Because implants are extremely durable, they’ll last many years. They may even last a lifetime with proper care.
- Convenience: You remove dentures, which can cause inconvenience and embarrassment. Implants take the embarrassing inconvenience away, and they don’t require any messy or sticky adhesive to keep them in place as dentures do.
The Different Types of Dental Implants
Let’s go over your dental implant options. There are several types of dental implants. Two common ones are regular or traditional dental implants and all-on-four dental implants.
1. Regular Dental Implants
Your dentist can pair regular dental implants with implant-supported bridges for replacing multiple teeth or with dental crowns for replacing individual teeth. The dentist applies regular implants through a dental treatment plan requiring a minimum of two surgeries.
Planning the dental implant procedure may involve different types of specialists, including:
- A dentist who specializes in the treatment of structures which support the teeth.
- A doctor who specializes in jaw, mouth and face conditions (maxillofacial and oral surgeon).
- A dentist who designs and fits artificial teeth (prosthodontist).
- An ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.
Since implants do require multiple surgeries, you’ll need to have a comprehensive evaluation so the dentist can prepare the process, including:
- A review of your medical history: You’ll need to inform your dentist of any health conditions you have or medicines you take, including over-the-counter drugs, prescription medications and supplements. If you have orthopedic implants or a heart condition, the dentist might prescribe you antibiotics before your procedure to prevent infection.
- Comprehensive dental exam: The dentist may require dental 3D images and X-rays and have models of your jaw and teeth made.
- Treatment plan: The dentist will tailor your treatment plan to your situation and take into account factors such as the condition of your jawbone, the number of teeth they need to replace and your remaining teeth.
Individuals who may be a good candidate for regular dental implants are those with:
- Groups or individual missing teeth
- Significant bone density for supporting the implant
- The need to restore teeth with porcelain crowns or bridges
2. All-On-Four Dental Implants
If you’re missing most or all of your natural teeth, you may opt for a specific type of dental implants known as all-on-four implants. This type allows the dentist to secure your replacement teeth more efficiently than other types.
All-on-four implants are an innovative procedure that even helps those with extensive bone loss to totally restore missing teeth. The foundation of the all-on-four implant procedure is the osseointegration process where your jaw bone bonds with the surface of the implant and makes the dental implant a permanent fixture inside your mouth.
While there are numerous benefits to the all-on-four implant procedure, not all individuals are good candidates for this treatment. You may be a good candidate for all-on-four dental implants if you:
- Require an entire set of teeth or full arch replacement
- Currently wear dentures and are not happy with the fit or upkeep required
- Lack the bone density needed to support a large number of regular implants
All-on-four implants are an alternative solution for patients who may not want to or can’t undergo lengthy implant procedures where bone augmentation, multiple implants or soft tissue regeneration are needed.
The all-on-four implant treatment is especially effective for individuals with poor bone volume or quality or where bone augmentation is inadvisable or challenging. This procedure allows for physically longer implant placement that provides more support and anchorage and preserves anatomical structures.
How Dental Implants Work
Here we’ll explore how regular and all-on-four dental implants work.
How Regular Dental Implants Work
The dentist typically performs a regular implant procedure on an outpatient basis in stages, allowing for time to heal between surgeries.
The dental implant placement process involves several steps:
1. Preparing the Jawbone
To perform this initial step, your dentist must remove the damaged tooth. If your jawbone is too soft or doesn’t have the required thickness, you might require bone grafting before having implant surgery. A bone graft helps create a stronger base for your implant.
2. Placing the Dental Implant
During the procedure to place the implant, your dentist will make an incision to open your gum to expose the bone. They’ll drill into your bone and place the implant metal post. Because the post serves as your tooth root, the dentist will implant it deep into your bone.
You’ll still have a space, at this point, where your tooth used to be. The dentist can place a temporary, partial denture for appearance if you wish. The denture is removable for cleaning and while you’re sleeping.
3. Waiting on Bone Growth
Once the dentist places the metal implant post in your jawbone, the osseointegration process begins. During this process, your jawbone will start growing into and attaching itself to the surface of your implant. This helps create a secure base for your new restoration or artificial tooth, similar to how roots act with your natural teeth.
4. Placing the Abutment
Once the osseointegration process is complete, you might require additional surgery so the dentist can place the abutment, which is the piece where the dentist will eventually attach the crown. This is a minor surgery performed in an outpatient setting, requiring only local anesthesia.
During the process of placing the abutment:
- The dentist will reopen your gum, exposing the implant.
- They’ll attach the abutment to the implant.
- They’ll close the gum tissue around the abutment, but not over it.
5. Attaching the Artificial Tooth
After they place the abutment, you’ll have to wait a couple of weeks for your gums to heal before the dentist can attach the artificial tooth.
How All-On-Four Dental Implants Work
While there could be slight variations on the all-on-four implant procedure from one dental office to the next, a typical procedure will involve three different phases:
- The dentist removes the broken, decaying or otherwise compromised tooth or teeth. They’ll also remove the damaged or diseased tissue.
- They’ll embed two titanium implants in the front of your jaw where there’s generally more concentration of atrophy-resistant bone tissue. They’ll insert two additional implants at an angle in the back of your jaw.
- They’ll attach your new bridge to your implants. Then, they will adjust it for fit and comfort.
The dentist uses a set of four implants with the all-on-four implants to act as anchors for a full permanent or partial set of dentures. The dentist can usually perform the all-on-four implants procedure in one dental appointment, unlike with regular implants that require several treatments and have a lengthy recovery time. With all-on-four implants, you go home with your implants and a full set of restorations.
In all-on-four, the dentist inserts the two outer implants a bit differently than they do regular implants. Angled under your gum line, they provide you with the most posterior support possible for your back teeth in the prosthetic arch.
The dentist can complete the entire procedure in less than a day, but it could take several months to complete the healing process. Once you’ve healed completely, the dentist will attach a final prosthetic bridge, which finishes the all-on-four implants process.
Pros and Cons of Dental Implants
Of course, as with any procedure, there are pros and cons of each option.
Pros of Regular Dental Implants
Dental implants don’t rely on nearby natural teeth for support, unlike bridges, which helps protect your remaining teeth from damage. Also, bone loss is typically avoided, unlike with dentures, because the implants replace the root and tooth.
Implants function and look like real teeth, without the chewing or speaking difficulties or “clicking” noises that often occur with dentures. Individuals in good health have a higher likelihood of successful implants. Smokers tend to have a lower success rate, and chronic conditions such as diabetes could delay healing.
You take care of your dental implants in the same manner as you would with your real teeth — with proper oral hygiene and routine dental visits.
Cons of Regular Dental Implants
Having implants placed is usually safe. However, as with any surgery, you could experience complications, including:
- Sinus, nerve or nasal cavity injuries
Infections can still occur. Your gum around the dental implant can become infected by bacteria and trigger periimplantitis, a type of periodontal disease that can lead to bone loss.
You may require additional dental work. If you have osteoporosis and it weakens your jawbone, for instance, the dentist might need to graft bone on the weakened section. They may also have to lift your sinus cavity if it becomes enlarged and pushes into the areas requiring a bone graft.
Insurance doesn’t usually cover dental implants. But, they’re affordable considering they can last a lifetime.
Despite these drawbacks, dental implants are a reliable and safe option with a high success rate and can improve your quality of life significantly.
Pros and Cons of All-on-Four Dental Implants
Many individuals regain confidence and comfort when they replace their missing teeth with all-on-four implants. The procedure has become preferable and popular with patients since it can replace a whole mouth full of teeth with only four implants and one surgery. With this procedure, you can even have all your teeth replaced in just one day. And because this treatment is more affordable than other options, more patients are having their entire smile restored.
Pros of All-on-Four Dental Implants
Some benefits of all-on-four implants are:
- Just four implants restore a whole smile
- Treatment requires only one surgery
- You can have a complete set of new teeth in just one day
- More affordable than other treatments
- Deep, secure jawbone placement so implants won’t loosen or shift
- No bone graft required typically
The Cons of All-on-Four Dental Implants
The all-on-four implants procedure has worked for many individuals, but this doesn’t mean it will be the best option for you. There are some reasons why you wouldn’t want this procedure performed, including:
- You won’t have the opportunity to test your teeth for comfort, bite or appearance since the dentist replaces your teeth all on the same day.
- You’ll require a high level of bone to keep your implants in place.
- Your dentist can’t place all-on-four implants in the molar areas of your mouth where you experience the most bite force.
It’s essential you understand both sides of the regular and all-on-four dental implant treatment options. Your dentist will discuss these options further with you so can make an informed decision on which choice is right for you.
Are Dental Implants Right for Me?
Now, there is always the chance you won’t be a good candidate for dental implants. However, implants work well for most individuals, and even if you’re not an ideal candidate initially, certain steps could help make this treatment option successful for you. For instance, implants require strong bone since they attach to your jawbone. You also can’t have any cavities or gum disease, since the procedure does have a cross-infection risk if you have these problems.
But, if you have gum disease, cavities or a weak jawbone, this doesn’t completely disqualify dental implants for you. Your dentist can provide you with treatment, fillings or bone grafts to make your mouth ready for implants.
But, because implants aren’t the right option for all people, you should be aware of your other treatment options.
Some of the other options include:
1. Removable Denture
Your gums support a removable complete denture. It rests on the area that was holding your natural teeth. A removable denture is a non-invasive and low-cost alternative to implants, but it’s usually unstable and uncomfortable.
They’re often quite bulky and large, especially upper dentures covering up your upper palate. They can affect how you taste food, and they can limit your choice of foods since you can’t chew certain foods properly with dentures.
Dentures also tend to move around slightly while you speak or eat and sometimes when you yawn or smile. While you can improve denture retention with an adhesive, it only provides you with a temporary solution and the continual movement of the denture can leave sores on your gums. Dentures create pressure when they rest on your gums that may accelerate bone loss. In addition, many denture wearers find when they speak they make “clicking” noises.
2. Tooth-Supported Fixed Bridge
Your natural teeth support a fixed bridge. It’s frequently an alternative to implants, especially if you only need one tooth restored.
The teeth on either side of the gap are crowned with a fixed bridge. These anchor teeth are also known as abutment teeth. The replacement tooth is fixed between both crowns. A fixed bridge can be made from porcelain, gold or another precious metal alloy. In some cases, a combination of these materials goes into a fixed bridge.
There are a few disadvantages to fixed bridges as compared to dental implants. Implants are self-supporting, but the dentist needs to ground down the abutment teeth of a tooth-supported bridge to prepare them for dental crowns. These teeth could be disease-free and strong, therefore having to remove healthy tooth structure isn’t desirable.
Also, having to support a replacement tooth places a lot of stress on these teeth. With the removal of healthy tooth structure, there’s a higher risk of these abutment teeth becoming infected or decayed eventually.
3. Do Nothing
If you decide to delay tooth replacement treatment or do nothing at all, you should first consider the consequences. Most importantly, you should realize jawbone loss occurs with tooth loss. It’s best to receive treatment as soon as you can. If you are considering dental implants, have them placed sooner rather than later to help avoid bone loss.
How Much Are Dental Implants?
The cost of dental implants can vary since multiple factors can influence their cost such as:
- How many implants you’re getting
- What materials are in implants
- Where you live
- What the dentist has to do during the procedure
- What the dentist’s level of expertise is
However, when an experienced and trained dental implant dentist performs the procedure, dental implant surgery is both a safe and predictable procedure in dentistry.
Get Your Dental Implants at Parkview Dentistry in Fountain Hills
If you’re considering dental implants to restore your missing teeth, schedule an appointment with Parkview Dentistry in Fountain Hills. You’ll experience a comfortable and relaxing treatment with our beautiful and relaxing views and friendly staff. We listen attentively to your treatment goals and address any concerns you have. At Parkview Dentistry, you’re treated like family. You can trust us with your smile.