Dental Implants sound scary. Do not panic when your family dentist tells you that you require dental implants. They are more common than you think, and it is nothing to stress about. Below is a guide that will answer many of your questions regarding dental implants.
WHEN SHOULD YOU GET AN IMPLANT?
Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as you lose the tooth. The implant’s success depends on the strength of the jawbone. Over time, the bone wears down and decays, leaving a weaker structure on which to affix the implant. Eventually, patients may require bone grafts before they can undergo placement of a dental implant. Avoid this painful and lengthy process by consulting your dentist as soon as possible after the tooth falls out.
HOW OLD IS TOO OLD FOR AN IMPLANT?
Dental implants help patients at every age over adolescence. If a patient is too young, the jawbone may still be growing, causing issues over time with the fit and placement of the implant. But otherwise, a dental implant works for any patient that is healthy and willing to undergo a simple surgery.
HOW LONG DOES THE ENTIRE PROCESS TAKE?
After the initial scheduling, the entire process takes around 6–8 months, unless more complex surgery is required. During the first appointment, your surgeon fuses the actual implant with the jawbone. Then, the surgeon covers the implant with gum tissue to allow the implant to heal properly. The surgeon sends you home after the surgery with a temporary bridge or denture (unless performing a bone graft or other complex surgery) so that your teeth appear cosmetically intact and you are able to chew food. Around 3–5 months later, you return to the dentist to have the post placed into the implant. Once the post is placed, the dentist fits you to get the right size cap or crown. Two to six weeks later, you come in for the final fittings. This may take just one appointment, or you may need to come in multiple times to ensure the correct size, color, and proportions of the new tooth.
DOES THE SURGERY REQUIRE TIME OFF?
Most people go back to work the day after the surgery, although it depends on your individual experience and the difficulty of the surgery. Some people prefer to take a day off to completely recover and allow their mouth to rest after the procedure.
ARE DENTAL IMPLANTS SAFE?
Dental implants have been proven safe for patients whose health allows for the surgery. They provide a longer-lasting alternative to a bridge or dentures and restore comparatively more functionality to teeth. Patients that smoke or suffer from bone loss issues may not be good candidates for dental implants. Speak to your dentist to see if you qualify for surgery.
CAN MY REGULAR DENTIST PERFORM AN IMPLANT PROCEDURE?
The law allows dentists to perform implants, but some choose to refer patients to a more experienced oral surgeon. Talk with your dentist before scheduling the surgery to gather information on their level of training and how often they perform the surgery. Finding an experienced surgeon gives your implant the best chance at long-term success.
It is important with any surgery to do your research and ask your dentist any questions or clarifications you need prior to scheduling the appointment for surgery. Ask your dentist to walk you through the dental implant process step by step so you can be sure you fully understand what to expect. This thorough vetting prevents any surprises or unexpected problems from emerging after your dental implant surgery.