Our teeth play a crucial role in our oral health. Apart from their aesthetic value, they stimulate our jawbone through the chewing and biting motions so it can maintain its structure and sturdiness. Although edentulous patients had to resort to dentures and dental bridges in the past as their only prosthetic replacement option, now dental implants make it possible for our team at Henricksen Family Dental to restore smiles both functionally and aesthetically.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a prosthetic tooth replacement. It consists of a small post made of titanium that is placed on an edentulous area of the jawbone so it can act as a natural tooth root. The titanium post is biocompatible, meaning that it can naturally fuse with the jawbone. Furthermore, it provides enough pressure to stimulate it in such a way that it can encourage bone regrowth. We commonly find a dental crown on top of an implant. These are designed to resemble natural teeth in appearance, color, and shape, so an implant can also recover the aesthetics of missing teeth. Dental crowns are usually made of porcelain.
Dental Implants vs. Dental Bridges
A dental bridge is a type of prosthesis that is made up of several dental crown pieces. Dental bridges are held by surrounding teeth and are placed through a minimally invasive procedure, as they are not attached to the jawbone. Dental bridges cover large edentulous areas and can prevent teeth from shifting unevenly. They are also designed to look natural, so they do not differ that much from implants in terms of aesthetics. Their main difference, however, is that bridges, not being connected to the jawbone, are incapable of stimulating it. As such, they may be unable to prevent a jawbone from deteriorating over time.
Am I a Candidate for a Dental Implant?
A previous dental exam at our office is always required in order to determine whether you are a candidate for a dental implant or not. They are recommended in the vast majority of edentulous patients, although those who have suffered from significant jawbone resorption may not be able to support one or a specific number of implants. For them, it is recommended to have a bone graft before their implant placement. Bone grafts are a simple procedure where healthy bone tissue is transplanted to the jawbone in order to encourage its regrowth. The small graft is taken from the back of your chin in most cases, although it can also come from external sources. A bone graft will make sure that you develop a strong enough alveolar bone that is able to support an implant.
Procedure and Recovery
The dental implant procedure is completed through multiple sessions. After your dental exam with our team, you may come to get a tooth extraction, where damaged teeth will be removed so the titanium post can be placed in a subsequent visit. Depending on the case, the dental crown can be placed the same day your implant is placed or a few days afterward. You can expect minimal bleeding and discomfort through the first days of postoperative. From then, it can take from four up to eight months for your jawbone to completely fuse with the implant. You may be asked to come in periodically so we can evaluate the fusion progress, and we will inform you about the care and hygiene measurements that you should take into consideration.
If you or someone you know has lost a tooth, it is important to act as early as possible to prevent your jawbone from deteriorating. If you want to get a dental implant, or have any inquiries regarding the procedure, feel free to call Henricksen Family Dental at (360) 740-2119 today.