Everything You Need to Know About Dental Implants

Introduction

Do you hesitate to laugh and avoid being in pictures because your smile does not give you confidence?

Do you find yourself trying to discreetly cover your mouth when you talk, hoping no one will notice your missing or damaged teeth?

Do you look in the mirror and think to yourself, “I would be happier if my teeth weren’t such a mess?”

The truth is that missing and damaged teeth are a common part of adulthood. You can lose teeth as a natural part of aging, the result of an accident, or due to decay or gum disease. When this occurs, it impacts not only your smile and your confidence but also your oral health.

Doing nothing is more than a cosmetic issue. The placement of your teeth supports the jawbone and prevents shifting and deterioration of the underlying bone structure. Failing to address dental problems such as missing teeth could change the shape of your face and lead to further tooth loss.

For years people have relied on uncomfortable dentures or bridges to correct the problem.

Key Points

  • Dental Implants are a permanent solution for damaged or missing teeth.
  • The procedure involves a multi-step process that can take several months.
  • An implant includes both an artificial root and a crown that looks and feels like your natural teeth.
  • When cared for properly, an implant can last the remainder of your life.
  • Dental implants improve your smile, support the jawbone, slow bone loss, and prevent gum disease.
  • Once dental implants are in place, they become indistinguishable from your natural teeth.
Everything You Need to Know About Dental Implants

Today, dental implants are rapidly replacing these traditional and outdated solutions. You can regain your smile, improve your oral health, and enjoy a permanent solution to missing or damaged teeth through dental implants.

The procedure can replace one or more teeth and has become the favored alternative to dentures and bridges because of the quality of the tooth replacement. Below are the most important things you need to know about dental implants:

What Are Dental Implants and How Do They Work?

Dental implant technology is far superior to traditional ways of treating missing or damaged teeth. The procedure creates a new artificial tooth that looks, feels, and acts like your natural teeth.

The process begins with surgically implanting a titanium post into your jawbone to replace the root of the missing or damaged tooth. After a period of healing, the titanium fuses with the jaw and supports the crown which will placed on top of the post and supporting the underlying jawbone structure. Once the fusion is complete, Dr. Hogan will place an abutment on the top of the titanium screw and secure the crown.

After treatment, you will not be able to distinguish which teeth are natural and which are prosthetics. The ability to insert a titanium root replacement also eliminates many issues found in other procedures, such as jawbone deterioration, bone loss, and a poor bite.

When are Dental Implants the Best Dental Care Option?

Due to superior technology, dental implants are becoming the preferred treatment for damaged or missing teeth. They are comfortable, do not shift, and require care like your natural teeth. Once you complete the procedure, you can smile, eat, and laugh without concern. To qualify for a dental implant, you must have good oral health, healthy gums, and a mature jawbone that can support the new titanium root. In some cases where the underlying bone structure is less than optimal, Dr. Hogan may recommend a grafting procedure that allows you to benefit from dental implants, even if you have current issues that would otherwise preclude you from qualifying.

Types of Materials Used for Dental Implants

There are three key parts to an implant: The root, the abutment, and the crown.

The root or implant is made of titanium. The new root, placed in the jawbone, is only a few millimeters in diameter in a screw-like shape. The titanium material is biocompatible with the bone structure, encouraging fusion of the titanium post with the jawbone providing a stable base and robust root system that will not decay or deteriorate. When cared for properly, the titanium screw becomes permanent.

Titanium is also a popular material used for other prosthetics like knee joints, hip bones, and spinal vertebrae. Within a few months, the titanium screw permanently fuses with the jawbone through the biological process called osseointegration. The bone then anchors the new tooth in place, stabilized and supported by the surrounding bone tissue.

The abutment or post, which protrudes above the gumline, serves to connect the artificial tooth with the titanium root holding it in place. The most commonly used materials for the abutment include titanium, surgical grade stainless steel, ceramic, cast gold, zirconia, or polyether ether ketone, otherwise known as PEEK. The artificial tooth, also known as a crown, is typically made from ceramic or porcelain material. The crown is the replacement for the visible part of your tooth above the gumline you see and therefore requires aesthetic considerations. When selecting the crown, Dr. Hogan will use shade matching to ensure the new artificial tooth will be the same color and shape of your natural teeth, to create a natural-looking smile.

The Benefits of Dental Implants

Dental Implants Will Improve Your Smile: Your smile is an important component of helping you to feel confident. Dental implants provide a permanent solution to fix your smile and improve your self-confidence because the new teeth look and function like your natural teeth. After you have fully recovered from the procedure, you will have no discomfort, no shifting teeth, and no concern about movement when you eat, laugh, and go about your daily activities.

Dental Implants Look and Feel Like Your Real Teeth: What makes dental implants unique is the titanium post that serves as the root system for the new tooth. It supports the crown creating teeth that look and behave like your natural teeth. The dental crown is designed and shaped to match the rest of your teeth. In most cases, you cannot tell the difference between an implant and your natural teeth.

Dental Implants are Both Comfortable and Discreet: Dr. Hogan will place the implant in the same space where the missing tooth would be. It does not overlap other teeth or have an appliance on adjoining teeth or the roof of your mouth. He will then attach the crown to an abutment on the titanium screw, creating a new tooth that does not move or slip the way traditional dentures typically do. The combination of the post and crown, secured by the abutment, allows you to eat, laugh, and enjoy life without agonizing over your teeth and your smile.

Unlike dentures, an implant never needs to be removed. The materials and design permanently replace any missing or broken teeth.

Dental Implants Will Improve Your Oral Health: Implants do more than improve your smile. Replacing the root of the tooth can slow the appearance of aging. Missing or damaged teeth can alter the shape of your face and jawline because the bones and muscles start to deteriorate, shift, and sag. Over time it can make your face look older and less attractive.

Natural teeth also tend to decay as you age. Replacing damaged teeth with a new prosthetic root and stronger tooth helps to prevent decay, which can permanently preserve your natural teeth. The process may also help to prevent gum disease and reduce bone loss as the new tooth supports the surrounding teeth.

Dental Implants Deliver a High Rate of Success: For those eligible, dental implants have a 98.6% success rate five years after the procedure, with 99% of patients reporting a good or excellent level of satisfaction.   While the process is more involved and typically more expensive than other options, the long-term rate of success and permanent outcome usually makes the procedure a better value in the long run.

To view a complete list of the benefits of dental implants, read the Blog, “10 Benefits of Dental Implants“.

Understanding the Dental Implant Process

Dental implant surgery is an outpatient surgical procedure involving local anesthesia. The process typically takes several months to complete because the jawbone and surrounding tissue must heal after each step of the process. A typical implant procedure will involve the following steps:

Initial Consultation: When you have a missing or damaged tooth, the first step is to meet with Dr. Hogan to discuss your goals and treatment options. Based on an evaluation of your medical history, the current state of your oral health, and the state of your jawbone, he will recommend a course of action, which could include a dental implant. Dr. Hogan uses the latest and most advanced digital x-rays and 3D diagnostic technology to evaluate the condition of your natural teeth and assess your overall oral health. Before recommending surgery, the he will consider the number of teeth that need replacing, the state of your jawbone, and how the procedure will impact your remaining teeth.

Pre-surgery Dental Procedures: Pre-surgery procedures may include the extraction of damaged teeth or a bone graft if it is determined the underlying jawbone is insufficient to support the implant post.

The purpose of the bone graft is to strengthen the jawbone and provide a base that is solid enough to support the implant and the normal forced of biting and chewing. When you require a bone graft, it extends the procedure by several months because after completing the graft, the bone must heal before proceeding with dental implant surgery.

The Implant Structure: Once Dr. Hogan has completed any pre-surgical procedures, you are ready for the actual implant procedure. The first step involves inserting a titanium post into the jawbone that will act as the root for the new tooth. After this procedure, you must wait several months for the titanium post to fuse with the jawbone. The process allows the implant to act as a natural root to secure your new tooth.

If the location of the replacement tooth is in a prominent position, Dr. Hogan may provide a temporary denture during the healing process.

The Healing Process After Dental Implants: After the insertion of the titanium implant post, you must wait for the jaw and surrounding tissue to heal and for the root to fuse to the jawbone, creating a firm root for your artificial tooth or teeth. This process can take several months and is called osseointegration.

Tooth Restoration Using Dental Implants: Once the root and jawbone fusion take place, you are ready for the next step, placing the abutment. To set the abutment, Dr. Hogan must reopen the gums and attach the abutment to the titanium root. This procedure creates a bridge that secures the artificial tooth or crown to the titanium root. Once the abutment is placed, your gums must heal, which takes about two weeks.

Setting the Crown: The last step in the dental implant process is to place the new crown on the abutment of the implant post.  To perform this procedure, Dr. Hogan utilizes the most sophisticated, state-of-the-art intraoral digital scanner to map the area of the arch where the crown will replace the missing tooth. These advanced intraoral digital scanners replace the need to take a traditional dental impression and ensures the most accurate and artistically natural outcome.

Dr. Hogan will then match the color of the crown to that of your adjacent teeth. This ensures the new tooth will be indistinguishable from your natural teeth.

How Long Does the Dental Implant Procedure Take?

Dental implant surgery is a multi-step process that takes place over several months.

Pre-surgical work such as extracting a damaged tooth, building up the jaw, or repairing the surrounding gum tissue may be necessary. If you do not need any pre-surgical work beyond an extraction, Dr. Hogan may place the titanium root on the same day.

When you have bone loss or an infection in the area where the implant will be placed, other procedures may be necessary before the implant surgery. A bone graft will often include a procedure such as a sinus lift or ridge augmentation. Any bone grafting required will cause a significant delay due to the period of healing needed, which can be up to four months.

Once the jaw and gum heal, you are ready for the insertion of the titanium post, replacing the root of your tooth. Dr. Hogan will choose either a submerged or non-submerged post, which impacts healing time. The healing cap can be placed in the same procedure when he does not submerge the implant under the gum. In the case of a submerged post, the jawbone and surrounding tissue must heal and fuse with the bone. The bone integration process takes six to 12 weeks, depending on the condition and health of the bone.

Placing the Implant Abutment: After your jaw and gums heal, the Dr. Hogan will install the abutment. The procedure requires four to six weeks for the gums to heal before placing the crown.

Placing the Implant Crown: Once he places the crown, you can expect several follow-up appointments to ensure the implant heals and functions correctly.

The Recovery Process after Dental Implants

During dental implant surgery, Dr. Hogan will use stitches that dissolve on their own. You can expect to experience swelling in your gums and face, bruising in the area near the implant, minor bleeding, and pain at the site where the implant was placed. These symptoms typically last no more than a few days. In most cases, over-the-counter pain medication is adequate to keep you comfortable. After the surgery, you should limit your diet to soft foods for the first few days.

Aftercare from Dental Implant Surgery

After receiving an implant, you will care for your teeth as you would your natural teeth. Dr. Hogan recommends brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day, and regular visits for cleanings and examinations.

Proper care of your dental implant could allow you to enjoy your new teeth for the rest of your life. There are no special care instructions beyond practicing good oral hygiene. In addition to maintaining good oral health, you can avoid damaging your new teeth by avoiding activities like chewing hard candy or ice. Also, be aware that drinking coffee and tea, red wine, or eating foods like blueberries could stain your teeth.

Can Dental Implants be Whitened?

You cannot whiten a crown or artificial tooth. If you want whiter teeth, the best route is to whiten your natural teeth before placing the crown. Dr. Hogan will complete shade matching to create a crown that is the same color as your natural teeth. In most cases, your natural teeth will become discolored before the implant crown. Over time, you may use whitening toothpaste to reduce discoloration from foods and drinks.

How Long Do Dental Implants Last?

With proper care and routine dental checkups, dental implants can last the rest of your life without needing repair or replacement. The implant crown will typically last between 10 and 15 years, depending on your oral hygiene.

How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?

Dental implants have a high upfront cost but lower maintenance expenses and, therefore, a better value over time. For example, the price of dentures is less than an implant. However, the appliance requires ongoing expenses for care and cleaning.

The upfront price for a single implant ranges from $1,500 to $6,000. As Dental Implants are usually considered a cosmetic procedure, most dental insurance plans often don’t cover the entire cost, and at best, may only cover a small portion of the procedure. However, Dr. Hogan offers financing options and payment programs to make dental implants affordable for just about everyone.

Final Thoughts

Dental implants are far superior to traditional tooth replacement procedures like dentures and bridges. The new tooth will look and feel like your natural teeth and is often indistinguishable from your natural, surrounding teeth. When maintained, the new tooth can last the remainder of your life. It can give you a more confident smile, support your jawbone, and reduce signs of aging, bone loss, and gum disease.

Call for an Appointment

If you are ready to explore ways to rejuvenate your smile, or you just need a cleaning and x-rays, call today for a free consultation or to schedule an appointment. Dr. Kevin Hogan graduated from the Indiana University School of Dentistry and has over 40 years of experience. He completed continuing education at the prestigious Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, a world-renowned comprehensive and aesthetic dentistry center. He has also finished extensive coursework with the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation and lectured at both North Carolina and Emory University.

He is known for his artistic skill, professionalism, and ability to find the right solution for an array of dental challenges. Dr. Kevin Hogan is a cosmetic and restorative dentist serving patients in Mt. Pleasant South Carolina and the greater Charleston, SC areas.

FAQs

  • How painful are dental implants?

    Dental implant surgery is an outpatient procedure requiring a local or light general anesthetic. You can expect to experience swelling in your gums and face, bruising in the area near the implant, minor bleeding, and pain at the site. These symptoms typically last no more than a few days. In most cases, over-the-counter pain medication will address any discomfort.

  • How long does the procedure take?

    Dental implants are a multi-step process. The first phase is placing the implant into your jawbone. The procedure usually takes between one and two hours per tooth, with a healing period between six and 12 weeks before completing the tooth replacement. In most cases, you can complete the process within 6 to 12 months.

  • How long do dental implants last?

    When cared for properly, implants can last the rest of your life.

  • Will my dentist put me to sleep for my dental implant procedure?

    In most cases, the dentist will use local anesthesia, but Dr. Hogan offers sedation under the direction of an anesthesiologist for those who have a low pain tolerance or prefer to undergo the procedure under a light general anesthetic.

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Smiles by Hogan

Cosmetic Dentist – Dr. Kevin Hogan
3405 Salterbeck St.
STE 100
Mount Pleasant, SC 29466

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