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Everything You Need to Know About Dental Implants

Close-up shot of the lower face of a smiling woman.

From gum disease to oral trauma and tooth decay, there are several reasons for tooth loss. In fact, nearly 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. This does not just affect the appearance of your teeth but also increases the risk of infection. The gap in the dental cavity can also result in overcrowding and misalignment of the surrounding teeth.

Fortunately, dental implants not only offer a permanent solution to tooth loss, but they can also restore your beautiful smile and protect your dental health. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, around 3 million Americans have teeth implants—and the number is growing by 500,000 every year. If you’re considering dental implants, read on to learn more about the procedure and how it can help you.

What are dental implants?

A dental implant refers to a small titanium screw that is surgically placed within your jawbone and acts as an artificial tooth root. After the implant has fused with your bone, it will create a strong foundation for your new crown. Your dentist will secure the implant with an abutment, following which the artificial tooth will be screwed or cemented onto the abutment.

Depending on the number of missing teeth, you can opt for single tooth dental implants or multi-tooth and full arch dental solutions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Implants

Model of a dental implant with an artificial tooth crown.

Who is eligible for dental implants?

Anyone who is missing a tooth and is healthy enough to undergo minor oral surgery is a good candidate for dental implants.

If you have osteoporosis or do not have substantial bone mass to facilitate osseointegration, dental implants might not be the right option for you. They are also not recommended for people with diabetes or leukemia. In these cases, mini implants make an effective alternative option.

It is best to talk to your dentist before choosing dental implants. If you’re not a suitable candidate, your dentist will provide you with other tooth replacement options.

How are dental implants different from dentures?

Though both dental implants and dentures ultimately serve the same purpose—replace missing teeth and improve your quality of life, both options have their own advantages and disadvantages. While dental implants cost more than dentures, the former is more similar to natural teeth and offers a permanent solution to tooth loss.

After tooth loss, the area where the root used to be, starts weakening. This can result in further tooth loss and jawbone deterioration. Dental implants can help solve this problem and prevent facial collapse. Also, dentures require more daily maintenance than implants.

How much do dental implants cost?

Dental implants are more expensive than other tooth-replacement procedures like bridges or dentures. According to the American Dental Association, dental implants can cost between $1,600 and $2,200 per tooth.

Are dental implants painful?

The procedure itself will not be painful as it is performed under local anesthesia. After the numbness wears off, you might notice mild pain and discomfort. Depending on the implant placement, you might also feel uncomfortable in the area surrounding the chin, cheeks, and eyes.

If needed, your dentist might prescribe painkillers and suggest using an ice pack to bring down the swelling. If the symptoms persist longer than two weeks, you must visit your dentist immediately as it might be a sign of infection.

What is the success rate for dental implant procedures?

The success rate of dental implants is currently at 90% to 95%. When performed by an experienced dentist, the success rate only increases, providing you with a safe and permanent solution to tooth loss.

How long do dental implants last?

Dental implants are designed to be permanent. They bond with the surrounding bone tissue through a process called osseointegration, forming a solid foundation for the prosthetic tooth. Though the metal implant is permanent, there is a 50% to 80% chance that you might have to replace the crown in 15 to 20 years.

How to prepare for dental implant surgery?

Through the help of x-rays and visual examinations, your dentist will conduct a comprehensive dental evaluation to determine if you are a candidate for dental implants. Always let your dentist know if you are allergic to any medicine or anesthetic. If you have a weak or suppressed immune system, your dentist will prescribe antibiotics before and after each procedure.

If the jaw does not have enough bone density to support the implant, you might need a bone graft before the procedure.

What are the precautions you should take after the procedure?

To ensure a successful surgery and prevent infection, you should keep your mouth as clean as possible. You should continue brushing your other teeth as usual after the surgery. Avoid cleaning the surgery area with a toothbrush for the first few days. You can carefully start cleaning the area after the swelling and tenderness go down.

Hot water with salt can help with healing during the first week. But, the water should not be too hot that it scalds. Hold the mouthwash over the surgical site until it cools, and repeat as often as possible.

Try to keep food away from the treated area for as long as possible. Also, avoid smoking until the wound heals. Don’t disturb the implant site with your tongue or finger, as this could increase the risk of infection.

Swelling or bruising after the surgery is quite normal and usually persists two to three days after surgery. You can use an ice pack to reduce the pain and discomfort. If the pain persists for a long time, you should visit your dentist to check for infections.

If you have dentures that cover the surgery area, you should avoid wearing them for the first few weeks to protect the implant area during the healing period.

How to care for dental implants?

Like with your natural teeth, brush, and floss regularly to keep your new teeth healthy. It is advisable to switch to a soft nylon toothbrush and avoid abrasive oral hygiene products after getting dental implants.

If you are looking for effective replacement options for your missing teeth in Fort Dodge, visit Clay & Associates DDS, PLC. Our experienced dental implant experts will examine the health of your oral cavity and determine if dental implants are a suitable option for you. Book an appointment today.


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