People are living longer than ever, and while regular brushing, flossing, and checkups allow many of us to maintain our natural smiles for a lifetime, sometimes our teeth just can't keep up. If you've lost a tooth (or a few teeth) due to injury or disease, dental implants can rejuvenate both your smile and your oral health.
Additionally, it can be crucial to replace missing teeth. Without all of your teeth, chewing and eating can destabilize your bite and cause you discomfort. When teeth are missing, your mouth can shift and even cause your face to look older. Dental implants are a great way to replace your missing teeth and, if properly maintained, they can last a lifetime!
What are dental implants?
A dental implant is a synthetic tooth root that is shaped like a post. This post is surgically placed into the jawbone and fuses with your bone. This “root” is made of titanium, the same material used in many other surgeries like hip or knee replacement because it is well-suited to pairing with human bone. A porcelain that looks just like your natural tooth is fixed to the post. This tooth can be permanently attached to the post, or can be removable, although permanent ones feel more natural.
Our implant services include:
- Sinus Lift Augmentation: Sinuses can enlarge following loss of the upper back teeth. This precludes placement of dental implants in the upper back areas of the mouth, since the sinus is an air-filled space and dental implants need to be surrounded by solid bone. A sinus lift augmentation/graft is a surgical procedure that restores the sinus cavity to its original size and replaces the bone that has been lost as a result of the enlarged sinus. This new bone graft typically takes nine to 12 months to heal before the dental implants can be placed into the grafted bone.
- Autogenous Bone Grafting: Occasionally, the ideal areas for dental implants do not have sufficient bone quantity to support the implants. In these cases, it is often necessary to “borrow” bone from another area of your mouth and graft it into the deficient area. Often, the area of choice is from the chin or in the back of the jaw where your wisdom teeth used to be.
- Implant Site Development: When a tooth needs to be removed due to infection, it is not uncommon to have lost bone around the infected tooth. In these cases, various types of bone grafting can be done at the same time the tooth is removed to facilitate the placement of a dental implant at a later date.
- Computer-Enhanced Treatment Planning: We have special software on our computer that allows us to evaluate your dental CT scan in three dimensions for bone quality, bone quantity, and bone location, enabling the best possible placement of your dental implants. This also allows us to work closely and smoothly with your restorative dentist to ensure an ideal result where your dental implants are concerned.
- Implant Maintenance: Once your dental implant restoration is completed, it is important to keep the area clean and infection-free. Dental implants can accumulate plaque and tartar just as teeth can. Whether you have just one tooth replaced by an implant or several, a professional cleaning schedule will be necessary to keep your implants healthy. The time interval for these professional cleanings will be determined by your individual needs.
When would I need a dental implant?
In addition to tooth replacement, implants may be used to anchor dentures, especially lower dentures that tend to shift when you talk or chew. For patients with removable partial dentures, implants can replace missing teeth so that you have a more natural–looking smile. Plus, dentures and conventional bridges are not as stable as an implant because they are not fixed to the bone.
Am I a good candidate for a dental implant?
Some factors to consider when getting a dental implant are the cost, overall health of the patient, patient preference, and the location of the mission tooth or teeth. The ideal candidate for implants is a non-smoker who has good oral health, including a sufficient amount of bone in the jaw, and healthy gums with no sign of gum disease. A dental surgeon will review your options with you to help you decide if a dental implant is the best solution.
What is the recovery time like?
Patients who undergo implant dental surgery will typically be put under local anesthesia so they feel no pain during the procedure. However, after the surgery most patients experience some level of discomfort, although this discomfort varies.
Depending on the quality of a patient’s bone and other factors, the area may take a week for initial healing. Although the implant will take 3 to 6 months for the implant to heal and fuse completely to the bone. After an implant heals, it will still require daily brushing and flossing, along with regular checkups.
Can I get more than one dental implant?
Implants are versatile. If you are only missing one tooth, one implant plus one replacement tooth will do the trick. If you are missing several teeth in a row, a few strategically placed implants can support a permanent bridge (a set of replacement teeth). Similarly, if you have lost all of your teeth, a full bridge or full denture can be permanently fixed in your mouth with a strategic number of implants.
With dental implants, you can smile confidently knowing that no one will ever suspect you have a replacement tooth. Contact our Las Vegas dental office for a consultation.