Do you hide your smile because of missing teeth? Not only do missing teeth affect your confidence, they can negatively impact your overall oral health. If you’ve lost a tooth or multiple teeth due to disease, decay or injury, dental implants can restore your smile, confidence and oral health.
To learn more about how Dr. Lance Loveless can help you regain your self-confidence and a full, healthy smile, please contact BridgeView Dental today at 512-347-8299 to schedule an appointment. We welcome patients from Lakeway, West Lake Hills and throughout Austin.
On this page, we will discuss a number of dental implant-related topics, such as:
- What are dental implants?
- Why get a dental implant?
- The consequences of missing teeth
- Benefits of dental implants
- Am I a candidate for dental implants?
- The dental implant process
- Do I need a bone graft?
- How do I care for my dental implants?
- Call BridgeView Dental today
A dental implant is a small titanium post that acts as a replacement for the root portion of a missing natural tooth. Implants can be placed in either the lower or upper jaws. Implants are made of a biocompatible titanium material that is capable of fusing with the jawbone and becoming a solid anchor for the replacement tooth in a process called osseointegration.
While they do vary, dental implants are typically composed of three main elements:
- Titanium post: The dental implant post is the first part of the implant placed into your mouth. An incision is made in the gum line and the jaw bone is prepared with a special dental drill. The post is then placed into the prepared area and the gums are sutured around it.
- Dental crown: Porcelain crowns are made of a strong dental ceramic material that is not only incredibly durable, it can be shaped and colored to blend in seamlessly with your natural smile.
- Abutment: The dental implant abutment is the connective device that attaches the titanium post to the dental crown. Once the abutment is secured to the top of the titanium post, Dr. Loveless will place the restoration.
A missing tooth can wreak havoc on your oral health and general well-being. Why choose a dental implant as your tooth-replacement option? If during your consultation, Dr. Loveless determines that you are a good candidate for dental implants, there are a number of reasons why you should consider this highly effective tooth-replacement option, such as:
- They last much longer than bridges or dentures
- Surrounding teeth will be preserved from wear and tear
- You can eat all of your favorite foods with confidence
- Dental implants prevent bone loss
- They are natural looking and blend in seamlessly with your smile
When teeth are missing, and gaps exist within the arch, you are at risk for a number of potential complications in the future. The immediate problems you will notice are:
- Difficulty chewing properly: The more teeth that you are missing, the more difficulty you will experience when trying to eat.
- Unappealing appearance: A missing tooth or several teeth can affect the beauty of your smile and your confidence when interacting in social and professional situations.
Other, more gradual consequences of missing teeth include:
- Bone loss: Once a tooth has been removed, its supporting bone begins to diminish. This also reduces support for the musculature around the mouth that promotes a fuller, younger face.
- Increased wear on your remaining teeth: The more teeth you are missing, the more you will naturally rely on your teeth that still remain. This increases the stress on your teeth as well as any fillings or other restorations you may have, which can break or fracture under the increased pressure.
- Tilting of neighboring teeth: When you remove a book from a bookshelf, you may see the books on either side of the missing book tilt toward each other to find support. Teeth can tilt toward each other in a similar way. This presents a number of potential problems. It hinders your ability to properly clean your existing teeth and makes it more challenging to place replacement teeth in the future.
- Over-eruption of opposing teeth: When a tooth is lost, an unbalanced tooth on the opposite side of your bite may “erupt” and grow into the vacant space. This can cause the erupting tooth to experience increased sensitivity, dental decay and cleaning challenges.
Dental implants can help to restore beauty and function, as well as your self-confidence and peace of mind. Compared to other tooth-replacement options, dental implants offer a variety of advantages:
- Durability: Dental implants last longer than crowns because root fractures and tooth decay beneath crowns do not happen with implants as they do with natural teeth.
- Less impact on adjacent teeth: Unlike the process to place a dental bridge, implants usually don’t require adjacent teeth to be prepared and shaved.
- Less pain and sensitivity: Sensitivity to pressure or hot and cold temperatures does not occur with dental implants.
- Dependable results: Advancements in dental technology and techniques help to make the dental implant procedure incredibly reliable, with a success rate of more than 95%*.
Most patients are eligible to receive dental implants. However, there are some conditions that may need to be addresses prior to your procedure, such as:
- Overall poor health
- Gum disease
- Bite complications
- Inadequate jaw bone
Even if you have any of the conditions listed above, you may still be a candidate for dental implants. You may just need to wait a few months while the condition is treated.
The dental implant process takes place over a period of time and involves several steps. Although every patient is different and there are several varieties of implant treatment methods, a typical process can include:
- Initial consultation and individualized treatment plan: During your initial consultation, Dr. Loveless will perform a thorough evaluation of your oral health and discuss all of the treatment options available to you. Once your candidacy for dental implants is confirmed and you decide to proceed with the treatment, Dr. Loveless will create an individualized treatment plan designed specifically for you.
- Placement of the dental implant: An appointment is scheduled to surgically place the dental implant into your jawbone. This is a relatively minor surgical procedure that is performed under a local anesthetic with sedation if necessary. In a one-step procedure, an abutment is attached at the same time that the implant is installed. In a two-step process, the implant is placed and then covered by the gum. The abutment is placed at a later date. If bone regeneration is required for successful implant placement, a bone graft will generally be completed before this stage of the process.
- Integration period: In a process known as osseointegration, your jawbone grows into, and integrates with, the implant post. The amount of time this requires varies for each patient, but is often complete within two to six months. After the osseointegration process has completed, the titanium post will essentially be a part of your jaw, giving your replacement tooth a strong, dependable structure.
- The restoration is set: Once the implant has been fully integrated with your jaw, your replacement restoration can be set. These restorations can include porcelain crowns, dental bridges or dentures.
- Maintenance: Following the successful completion of your dental implant process, the ultimate success and longevity of your results depends greatly on your commitment to the regular cleaning and maintenance of your restorations. Proper oral hygiene and routine visits with Dr. Loveless will help ensure that your results last for years to come.
If you suffer from severe bone loss, a bone graft may be recommended before your dental implant procedure. There are a variety of bone graft options. Dr. Loveless will evaluate your oral structure and discuss which material will be the best for your jawbone and successful implant placement. Your jawbone needs a tooth to remain healthy, so the longer your tooth has been missing, the faster your jawbone will degrade.
Good oral hygiene is necessary to improve the lifespan of your dental implants. Fortunately, keeping your implants clean is not difficult.
For the majority of implant-supported teeth, you can brush and floss in the same way that you would for your natural existing teeth. Some cases do require an interdental toothbrush, special floss and other cleaning aids. Dr. Loveless will give you detailed instructions for the care and maintenance of your implants.
Maintaining a regular check-up schedule with Dr. Loveless will be important in order to ensure optimal implant health. For the first few months following your procedure, Dr. Loveless may recommend more frequent visits, but once he is satisfied that your treatment is performing as expected, ongoing care will be similar to any patient with natural teeth.
The healthy, beautiful smile of your dreams is within reach. Please call BridgeView Dental toady at 512-347-8299 to discuss dental implants with Dr. Loveless. We welcome patients from throughout Austin, including Lakeway and West Lake Hills.
*Results may vary