Dental implants are an amazing option for lost teeth because they truly mimic your natural teeth. Which means that a dental implant will look, feel, and function just like your tooth did before you lost it.
In a past post of ours, we uncovered how missing teeth causes a domino effect on your smile, but dental implants can stop that not-so-desirable-progression from happening! They successfully replace the natural roots of one or more teeth and stimulate the jawbone to promote and preserve bone tissue.
Dental implants allow your smile and facial profile to stay beautiful and full — along with an average 95% success rate! And unlike bridges and dentures, dental implants never need adjusting or replacing, and you never have to take them out for cleaning.
Who’s a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
To qualify for a dental implant restoration, you need to have healthy gums and no health problems that could hamper healing, like rare blood diseases, leukemia, or currently undergoing chemotherapy.
Our highly trained and experienced dentist, Dr. James Powell in Palmdale, CA, will evaluate you to determine if you are a good candidate for a dental implant, and then you can begin your custom treatment process.
A Basic Overview of The Dental Implant Process for Lost Teeth
After the initial evaluation and custom treatment plan, we’ll take a CBCT scan (which is a 3-D image of your skull, teeth, and jaw). This helps with guided placement (more accurate placement) and ensures the success of the dental implant (meaning that it will last).
Then, we’ll order the custom materials for your dental implant. After the materials arrive, your dental implant treatment involves installing a biocompatible implant post (usually titanium), which is placed into the healthy jawbone.
After the implant placement, you can expect a time of healing as the implant fuses to the living bone through a process called osseointegration. Once this healing period is complete, you are ready for the abutment (aka the piece that holds the new porcelain tooth in place) and dental crown (aka the piece that looks like your natural tooth).
With just a little bit of time and a well-trained dentist you can replace missing teeth to regain the peace of mind that comes with a healthy beautiful smile.
Implant Q & A
Since Dr. Powell has over 30 years experience, we get A LOT of questions about dental implants, so today we’d like to answer a few of the more common ones for you!
Q: Are all dental implants created equal?
A. No, not all dental implants are created equal since different materials can be used so the quality can vary.
Quality is determined by thorough testing of the materials, and the material’s ability to integrate with the human body.
Cheaper implants may come from companies that are not FDA approved, nor have they been around for a long time. This is an important detail because parts that may need replacement in the future may not be attainable. Whereas, a company who has been around for a long time with their materials as part of thousands of people’s lives, chances are good that your dentist will be able to find the right parts for many years to come.
Different Types of Materials
There are also different materials that are available depending on your unique sensitivities.
We mostly use titanium because it has a great history, is well-tolerated, and boasts a 98% success rate! As a biocompatible metal, it doesn’t usually cause reactions in the body, unless you have a titanium sensitivity. It has a low rate of rejection and infection from bacteria. Titanium also fuses well with the bone allowing for secure implantation. It lends itself well to being flexible when it comes to placement and can be done in two pieces as needed.
For patients with metal allergies or an allergy to titanium, zirconia implants are used because they have only trace amounts of metal so they don’t cause reactions. Zirconia is also a bit more biocompatible than titanium. Since it’s fairly new, success rates aren’t as measurable, and they need to be placed in one piece. Because of this, bacteria accumulate in fewer places, lessening your chances of infection. Zirconia can fracture though, so if you habitually grind your teeth titanium may be recommended instead.
So not only is it important to make sure that you have an experienced and highly trained dentist, but you also want to make sure that you are getting the best quality materials.
Q. What are the benefits of using a CBCT with implants?
A. To place a dental implant, finding the ideal position to protect the nerves means having the most accurate, comprehensive dental radiographic evaluation possible.
That’s why we’ve replaced 2-D X-rays for dental implant treatment planning with the 3-D counterpart. With 2-D images, you can get image errors, distortion and uneven magnification, which can be unreliable.
But with 3-D X-rays for implant placement planning the updated technology puts together a safe, accurate representation of your mouth and jaw. So essentially, this technology gives Dr. Powell a lot more information which allows him to be more accurate.
Further, our CBCT uses low dose radiation and is super comfortable for patients because our CBCT machine simply rotates around your body using a cone-shaped X-ray beam to take panoramic 3-D images of your teeth, gums, soft tissues and nerve pathways in just one scan.
Q. How have implants improved from the past?
A. Thanks to advances in dentistry and our state-of-the-art dental implant technology, you can replace missing teeth with dental implants that are more durable along with high surgical success rates.
Dental materials are stronger and more versatile than ever before, allowing for precision and accuracy as well as fit and aesthetics, now that porcelain tooth colors can be crafted to blend in naturally.
Dental implants are also the only tooth replacement that recreates your natural tooth root! Other kinds of tooth replacements can only rebuild the part of a tooth that you can see. This tends to rely on the tooth structures around the lost tooth for support and can damage and weaken them over time. Not only are dental implants more predictable and efficient today, but they can get you out of the chair faster with less post-op discomfort and quicker healing!
Q. What’s better, an implant, bridge, or denture for lost teeth?
A. Typically, implants are the best option.
When it comes to dentures, full and partial dentures just can’t preserve bone because the biting force doesn’t stimulate the jawbone. Over time dentures can harm and deteriorate bone tissue. But because dental implants become a part of your body, they are a permanent solution, making them better than dentures when it comes to preventing bone loss.
Also, if your dentures don’t fit right, they’ll irritate your gums and leave you with mouth sores. Dentures can also slip in the mouth unless you use adhesive to hold them securely. Because of that, you typically have food restrictions. Dentures often don’t feel natural in the mouth and require routine periodic maintenance to ensure proper function.
As for dental bridges, the major concern is that a dental bridge requires the natural tooth structure of the surrounding teeth to be damaged. A dental bridge is made from two crowns placed onto the natural teeth on each side of a missing tooth gap. This pair of crowns form a “bridge” to hold an artificial tooth in the gap.
The adjacent teeth will need to have most of the enamel removed to place those crowns. And since the tooth isn’t fixed to the jaw it also doesn’t preserve bone growth. Unlike a bridge, an implant supports your jaw health because dental implants have a titanium post fused with the jawbone which basically becomes a root replacement using an artificial tooth.
Furthermore, dental bridges can be hard to brush and floss and aren’t as durable as implants. With both dentures and bridges, bone and gum tissue wear down and shrink, leading to repeat adjustments and high probability for a replacement being needed.
Q. Are implants safe?
A. Any surgery carries with it some form of risk. That said, dental implants are not only one of the most reliable, strong options for replacing lost teeth, but are also inherently safe! Although rare, problems with an implant are usually minor and fixable. Implants are even okay for people with diabetes, according to the Journal of American Dental Association. Implants are placed under local anesthesia so you are comfortable. Including osseointegration, the process from start to finish can take anywhere from three to six months.
Dental implants will not only look like your natural teeth but feel and function like them as well! Maintain your implants with good oral hygiene and routine dental cleanings and they could last for your lifetime. When it comes to dental restorations, and particularly dental implants, they are a valuable investment in your oral health.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Powell to see if a dental implant restoration is right for your smile, please call us at (661) 349-7725 or book your reservation online today. Our Exceptional Dentistry team is excited to show you how you can transform your smile and your confidence!