Dental Implants : A Permanent Solution for Missing Teeth
Dental Implants: For Tooth Replacement
What Causes Missing Teeth?
There are three kinds of congenitally missing teeth:
- Hypodontia: when 1 to 5 secondary teeth do not form after the primary teeth come out
- Oligodontia: when 6+ secondary teeth do not form after the primary teeth come out
- Anodontia: none of the secondary teeth never develop after primary teeth come out
If possible, place the tooth back into the socket. If not, place it in a glass of milk or hold it in your mouth next to your cheek. Do not wrap it in a paper towel, clean it, or touch the root.
- Cavities or decay
- Poor nutrition
- Little to no access to dental care
- Poor dental hygiene habits
Severe tooth loss is substantially higher in patients with the following health conditions:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Heart disease
What Problems are Caused by Missing Teeth?
Additional tooth loss
The worst part is, once you are missing one tooth, these issues occur quickly, which is why it is so important to have a missing tooth replaced as soon as possible. Dental implants are the best way to address missing teeth.
What are Dental Implants?
The way the surgery is performed depends on the type of implant used and the condition of the jawbone. For many patients, implant surgery requires several procedures. The primary benefit of implants is osseointegration, which is the process by which the bone fuses with the implant, providing a solid base for your replacement tooth or teeth. The process can take several months to more than a year.
The replacement tooth/teeth will be matched to your natural teeth, so they will look, feel, and function like your natural teeth. As a general rule, implants are ideal for patients who:
- Are missing 1 or more teeth
- Are adults
- Have adequate bone density or can undergo bone graft surgery to secure the implant
- Have healthy oral tissues
- Don’t have health issues that impact bone healing
- Are unable/unwilling to wear traditional dentures
- Don’t smoke or willing to quit smoking tobacco
- Are willing to commit at least several months to more than a year to the process
- Are interested in improving speech and ability to chew
What to Expect Before, During, and After
- Oral surgeon
- ENT specialist
Before the surgery
- Comprehensive dental exam, including x-rays and models made of teeth/jaw
- Review of medical history
- Treatment plan, customized to your specific situation
During the consultation evaluation, we will also discuss anesthesia options: local, general, or sedation. We will consider your condition and your preferences when determining which is best. Depending on the anesthesia you will be given, we will give you specific instructions on eating/drinking before surgery. Patients who are getting general anesthesia or sedation should plan to bring someone with them to the surgery that can drive them home. Also, don’t plan on doing anything for the rest of the day
During the surgery
- Removal of damaged tooth/teeth
- Bone grafting, if necessary
- Placement of dental implant
- Healing/bone growth
- Placement of abutment
- Placement of artificial tooth
The process takes a minimum of several months and for some patients, may take a year or more. Most of this is healing and waiting for new bone growth. Depending on your condition, the procedures done, or materials used, certain steps may be combined.
If your jawbone doesn’t have enough density, you may require bone grafting before an implant can be placed. This is because chewing puts a lot of pressure on the jawbone and if it’s not strong enough support the implant, it could fail. Bone grafts create a stable base for an implant.
There are several options: bone from another area of your body, animal bone, or synthetic bone material. We will discuss these options and determine which one is best for you during your consultation appointment.
The initial condition of your jawbone determines how this surgery is done. If you require extensive bone grafting, it may take several months for the graft to heal. On the other hand, if you only need minor grafting, this can be done at the same time the implant is placed.
Placing the implant
Once the implant is placed, the process of osseointegration begins. During this process, the jawbone will fuse around the implant, securing it in place. Typically, this takes several months.
Placing the abutment
If you have mini dental implants, the abutment will already be attached to the implant, so this step will be skipped. The problem many patients have with this is that the abutment will be visible until the prosthesis is placed- which many patients do not like. Once the abutment is placed, you’ll need to heal for about 2 weeks before the prosthesis can be attached.
Choosing your teeth
- Removable: will need to be taken out and cleaned at night
- Fixed: treated like natural teeth, can only be removed by a dental professional
- Swelling and/or bruising of gums/face
- Pain at implant site
- Minor bleeding
You may require antibiotics or pain medication following your surgery, depending on your situation. If this is the case, the dental team at 5thandolive dental will provide these to you ahead of time. If you do experience pain and/or discomfort that gets worse or does not begin to resolve in a few days, please contact our office and we will get you in as soon as possible to address the issue.
Reducing Risk of Implant Failure
If the implant does fail, it will be removed, and the bone will be cleaned up. If you want to try again, we can do so in three months. There are several things you can do to increase the chance of success and reduce the risk of failure:
- Practice good oral hygiene habits: brush twice daily and floss in the evenings. You may want to get an interdental brush so that you can get into the nooks and crannies around the teeth, gums, and metal posts
- Visit the dentist regularly for exams and cleanings- every 6 months is ideal
- Avoid bad habits: don’t crunch on ice or hard candies, as this can cause the crown to be broken or possibly your remaining natural teeth. Also, avoid smoking and excessive caffeine use. Finally, if you grind your teeth, consider getting a mouthguard.
Schedule Your Consultation Today
We are located on 509 Olive Way #1542 Seattle, WA. Our office hours are Tuesday – Thursday 7-4, Friday – Appointment only. We look forward to serving you in all of your dental needs, including missing teeth.