If you have a single or several teeth missing and need to have them replaced, it is fair to presume that you need teeth that look like your natural teeth to preserve your beautiful smile. Any shifting, sliding around, or falling out will simply not work. Dental implants fuse onto or into your jawbone beneath the gums, working similarly to the natural teeth. Therefore, whether you have been struggling with conventional bridges or dentures or need one or two crowns, dental implants might be your ideal solution.

To have dental implants fitted, you have to undergo a surgical procedure, which an expert dental specialist must perform to succeed. At Washington Dental, we will first assess your situation to determine if you can have dental implants. If so, our certified dentist specializing in dental implant placement will carry out the procedure. We use advanced tools that make our procedures as comfortable as possible. If you are looking for dental implant placement services in Carson, CA, please reach out to us right away for professional assistance.

An Overview of Dental Implants

Dental implants date back to 1952. They’re regarded as the standard of care for a prosthetic replacement for missing, damaged, or decayed teeth. Dental implants are surgical components inserted in the jawbone then allowed several months to integrate with the jaw. They act as replacement tooth roots for the missing teeth. These artificial tooth roots serve to hold removable/permanent replacement teeth or dental bridges in place by providing a solid foundation.

When implants fuse with the jawbone, they mimic original teeth since they sit independently without upsetting the surrounding teeth and have high stability. The integration process between the jawbone and a dental implant is known as osseointegration. Most implants are titanium-made, enabling them to fuse with the jawbone without anyone noticing that there are foreign objects in your mouth. With time, science and technology have advanced to enhance the outcome for implant placement significantly. Nowadays, the rate of success for implant placement is approximately 98%.

Why You Would Need Dental Implants

You can opt for dental implants when you need to replace one, several, or all your teeth. In dentistry, teeth replacement is done to restore esthetics and function. As far as tooth replacement is concerned, there are generally three options:

  • Dental implants.
  • Fixed dental bridges (cemented).
  • Removable dental appliances (partial or complete dentures).

Dentures are the most affordable tooth replacement option, but they’re the least desired due to the inconveniences of the requirement to remove them from the mouth when you want to sleep. Additionally, dentures may affect a person’s sensory and taste experience with foods.

Dental bridges were the most prevalent tooth replacement option before patients shifted to dental implants. The primary disadvantage of dental bridges is that they rely on the existing original teeth to support them. On the other hand, dental implants are held in place and supported by the jawbone only and don’t affect the surrounding original teeth. Deciding what tooth replacement option to go for is based on several factors. Particularly for implants, the factors include:

  • Quality and quantity of the bone where the implant will be placed.
  • Location of the missing teeth or tooth.
  • Your health as the patient.
  • The cost of the dental implant and surgical procedure.
  • Your preferences.

Your dental surgeon first examines the site where the implant is to be placed and conducts a clinical evaluation of whether or not you are an ideal candidate for the dental implant.

Advantages of Choosing Dental Implants as a Tooth Replacement Option

There are several advantages to opting for implants to replace your missing tooth/teeth over other options. They include:

  • Convenience— implants cancel out the embarrassing inconveniences of removing dentures and the requirement for messy adhesives to keep them intact.
  • Durability— Dental implants can last several years. With proper care, most of them last a lifetime.
  • Improve dental/oral health— implants do not require filing your natural teeth into an appropriate shape as tooth-supported bridges do. Because the surrounding teeth aren’t altered in any way to support the dental implant, more of your natural teeth are left intact, enhancing long-term dental/oral health. Individual dental implants also allow easier access between teeth, enhancing oral hygiene.
  • Enhanced self-esteem— implant can restore your smile, thus helping you feel better and confident about yourself.
  • Easier eating— dentures slide, making chewing difficult. Implants function similarly to your natural teeth, enabling you to chew foods confidently without experiencing any pain.
  • Improved comfort— when placed, implants become a permanent part of you. They, therefore, cancel out the discomfort you would have experienced with removable dentures.
  • Improved speech— when you have a poorly-fitting denture, your teeth may keep slipping in the mouth, making you slur or mumble your words. Implants enable you to talk without the concern that your teeth may slip.
  • Improved appearance— implants feel and look like your natural teeth. And since they’re designed to integrate with the jawbone, they’re permanent.
  • Cost-effective— when it comes to options of dental treatments, implants are the most cost-effective. Given that they’re highly durable, they will give value to your money. The initial cost seems higher compared to other dental treatment options. However, in the long run, you’ll spend less time and money on maintenance, restorations, replacement, and repairs than you would with removable dentures and dental bridges.
  • Adaptability— replacing missing incisors and canines is quite complex than it is for molars and premolars. These two types of teeth are the most visible whenever you smile. Thus, you want to pay more attention when replacing them with an artificial tooth. Their spacing isn’t also suitable to use bridges since they’re smaller and narrower than molars. Whereas veneers can correct damaged incisors and canines, dental implants are the most suitable option for any missing teeth. Mini-implants are an ideal option to replace missing small teeth like incisors due to their size. They’re also cheaper than regular implants and require less drilling of the jawbone.

Dental Implant Types and Why They Are Used

There are two different dental implant types— subperiosteal and endosteal. Subperiosteal implants are those that fit over the jawbone and underneath the gums using a metal frame for stabilization instead of an implant screw. The metal frame has several posts that are then used to support the placement of the replacement tooth. Endosteal implants are those placed in the jawbone. Subperiosteal implants aren’t in use anymore because they aren’t as long-lasting as endosteal implants.

Whereas dental implants are primary used to replace missing teeth, they can also be helpful in various dental procedures. Because of their stability, implants may be utilized to hold removable dentures in place and give a more comfortable and secure fit. Additionally, for orthodontic procedures, mini-implants act as TADs (temporary anchorage devices) to assist in moving teeth to the desired position. Mini-implants refer to small dental implants temporarily attached to the jawbone to help in anchorage for teeth movement. They’re subsequently removed once they have served their purpose.

If you are missing all of your teeth, there are options to achieve a highly comfortable and stable prosthesis using only a few dental implants. The All-On-Four technique is an example of these options. It is called All-On-Four technique because four dental implants support all the replacement teeth in one arch (either lower or upper). The dental implants are positioned in sites with a strong jawbone then a dental prosthesis is fixed into place.

This technique provides more stable teeth replacement (permanent) that feels like your original teeth than the older technique of traditional (detachable) complete dentures. Undoubtedly, dental implants have brought out more treatment procedures for replacing single or numerous missing/extracted teeth with lifelong stability and improved oral and dental health.

Who Is the Best Candidate for Dental Implants?

Mostly, any person who is healthy enough to go through routine oral surgery or dental extraction can have dental implants. A person having dental implants should have enough bone and healthy gums to support the implant. They must also be devoted to routine dental visits and good oral/dental hygiene. Heavy smokers, persons suffering from uncontrolled chronic disorders— for instance, heart disease or diabetes, or those who have had radiotherapy to the neck/head area will have to be assessed personally. If you’re considering dental implants, speak to your dental specialist to determine if they’re a suitable option for you.

Dental Implant Surgical Procedure

What takes place pre-, during, and post-implant surgery? First of all, dental implant surgery is the procedure for dental implant placement. The process is based on the implant type being placed and the patient’s jawbone condition. The surgical procedure may involve several steps.

Before Surgery

Before you undergo a dental implant procedure, there is the consultation and planning phase. Here, your dental surgeon goes over your medical records to determine if you are an ideal candidate for implants. You should inform them if you have any health conditions or are on any medications, be it prescription or over-the-counter supplements and drugs.

The surgeon also visually examines the area in your mouth where the dental implant will go and studies dental imaging results (X-rays, CT scans, or panoramic films). He/she assesses the quantity and quality of the jawbone to see whether he/she must add more bone in the area undergoing treatment.

After establishing that an implant can go to the expected location, you’ll make another visit where the dental specialist will conduct the surgery to place the implant/implants. But before then, you and your specialist will need to come up with a treatment plan that’s tailored to your specific situation.

The plan considers factors like the number of teeth that need replacement and the state of the remaining teeth and jawbone. You’ll also be instructed on what to eat or drink before the procedure. During surgery, the dental surgeon usually gives you local anesthesia that numbs the area undergoing surgery and any other necessary sedatives for anxiety and comfort.

During Surgery

The first step of dental implant surgery usually involves extracting the damaged/decayed tooth/teeth. Often, the area where the implant will go still has the damaged/decayed tooth present. For the dental surgeon to place the dental implant, he/she has to remove the tooth. More often, a bone grafting procedure (with synthetic or cadaver bone) is required to attain a strong bone base for the dental implant. The site is then allowed between two and six months to heal. For an area that doesn’t have an existing tooth and has undergone bone loss, a different bone grafting procedure is required— the bone graft is placed over the existing bone (Onlay bone grafting). This process is more detailed and usually needs approximately six months or more to heal. 

In some cases, there’s enough bone, and there’s no need for bone grafting. If that’s the case, the damaged/decayed tooth is removed, followed by implant placement in a single visit, a procedure known as immediate implant placement.

For cases where dental implant placement happens on the upper jaw (maxilla) in the posterior or back region, the available bone amount might be limited due to the maxillary sinus. Sinus lift or sinus augmentation is conducted to elevate the sinus floor then graft additional bone into it. This leads to the availability of more bone to support an implant.

After sufficient strong bone has been achieved, the area will be ready for an implant. During the placement procedure, the dental surgeon drills the implant (titanium-made post) into the jawbone using a special drilling tool and other tools. After that, he/she places a healing cap over the dental implant, stitches up the gum, then the healing stage starts. During the healing stage, the dental specialist may need you to wear temporary dentures to replace the extracted teeth for aesthetic reasons.

Healing time is based significantly on bone quality. It usually ranges anywhere between two and six months, and it’s the period during which the implant fuses with the jawbone. You want to avoid putting any stress or force on the implant when it’s healing. Follow-up dental visits to examine the surgical area are generally necessary to ensure healing is happening and there’s no infection.

After healing has taken place, your dental specialist tests the implant to establish whether the surrounding jawbone has successfully taken it up.  After making this confirmation, he/she connects a prosthetic element to the implant using a screw. This element is known as an abutment, and it holds the implant crown (or prosthetic tooth) in place. The dentist then takes a mold (impression) of the abutment in your mouth to have the prosthetic tooth custom-made so that it fits. The prosthetic tooth is secured using a screw or cemented onto the abutment.

After Surgery

After surgery, there is necessary follow-up care to practice to ensure flawless healing. Implants come with the risk of contracting a condition known as peri-implantitis, equivalent to gum (periodontal) disease for original teeth. Peri-implantitis is the inflammation of the bone and gum surrounding the dental implant. The swelling of the neighboring tissues is usually because of a bacterial infection or excessive biting pressure on the dental implant. Peri-implantitis could make you lose your implant if it’s left untreated.

After an implant has been placed, regular maintenance care at home and check-up visits at your dentist are critical in preventing this condition. Proper oral/dental hygiene for implants at the comfort of your home involves regular flossing and brushing to keep plaque and food debris away.

At the dental office, your dentist will examine the hard and soft tissues surrounding the implant. He/she will then use special tools to extract any hardened deposits surrounding the implant. If need be, he/she will also adjust your bite to ensure the implant doesn’t take heavy biting forces.

Dental Implant Cost and Insurance Coverage

Dental implants cost varies based on the location and the dental specialist carrying out the procedure. One dental implant costs approximately three thousand to four thousand five hundred dollars. This price includes the surgical procedure for implant placement and the placement of the abutment and the prosthetic tooth.

Generally, dental insurance doesn’t cover the placement of dental implants. Some insurances might cover the implant crown part. Unluckily, in most cases, insurance categorizes dental implants as an elective treatment, even though they’ve become a popular option for replacing missing teeth.

Implants are a popular tooth replacement option since they are conservative and deliver predictable results and a success rate of approximately 98%.

Possible Complications, Problems, and Risks with Dental Implants

With the implant surgical procedure, we have various risks and possible complications toward the patient undergoing treatment or dental implant success. Careful and thorough planning is critical to ensure you’re in perfect health to undergo surgery and recover properly. Like other oral surgical procedures, infections, bleeding disorders, existing health conditions, medications, and allergies require careful review before going ahead with the treatment. Luckily, the success rate is higher, and failures generally arise in the unlikely event of:

  • The fracturing of the implant.
  • Infection.
  • Dental implant overload.
  • Damage of the neighboring area (teeth, blood vessels, nerves).
  • Poor dental implant positioning.
  • Poor quality or quantity of bone.

Additionally, carefully planning your treatment with an expert surgeon will help avoid any complications and problems. In most cases, a dentist can make another attempt to replace an unsuccessful dental implant once the required healing period has elapsed.

Dental Implant Placement Surgery Isn’t Painful

Usually, a dental implant surgical procedure is done under local anesthesia, and thus, you should not feel any pain during the process. After local anesthesia wears off, a little discomfort is experienced, and it varies from one patient to another. However, generally, most patients feel similar discomfort as that experienced after tooth extraction.

You can place an ice pack on the skin over the surgery site immediately after the procedure to assist in reducing swelling.  Typically, you could manage this pain using over-the-counter painkillers such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen (Advil). If the surgical procedure was more invasive, the dentist might prescribe stronger pain medications, and you’ll need more time to recover. Apart from painkillers, you may need oral rinses and antibiotic prescriptions to help the surgical area heal for the next few weeks.

What Kinds of Doctors Perform Dental Implant Placement?

Any licensed dental specialist can perform dental implant surgery provided the treatment follows the standard of care and serves the patient’s best interests. But because implants have to be surgically inserted in the bone, dental professionals who routinely do jawbone surgery are the best suited for dental implant surgery. 

Oral surgeons (oral maxillofacial surgeons) treat all soft and hard tissue defects or diseases, including jaw surgeries and tooth extraction. Periodontists treat diseases affecting the teeth surrounding structures like the jawbone and gum. Thus, both periodontists and oral surgeons often perform the implant placement procedure.

After the implant fuses fully with the bone, the next stage involves placing the prosthetic tooth that’ll be held into place by the implant. A prosthodontist typically performs the placement (a dentist with a specialty in tooth replacement) or general dentist.

Contact a Dental Specialist Specializing in Dental Implants Near Me

Your teeth come in handy as far as maintaining your personality, confidence, and self-esteem is concerned. A beautiful smile gives you the confidence to connect and interact with your friends. Missing a tooth could be an inconvenience and may negatively affect your ability to smile, eat, talk, and you may even feel you aren’t presentable to the public.

Therefore, if any of your teeth are missing, decayed, or damaged, you need to address the problem right away, and having a dental implant is one way you could solve these issues. They’re scientifically proven to stop the adverse effects that missing teeth have on your overall medical and dental health and can drastically improve your life.

At Washington Dental, we offer quality dental implant services for more beautiful smiles to patients seeking the services in Carson, CA. We’ll replace your damaged or lost teeth to give you a smile that’ll boost your inner confidence. Call us now at 310-217-1507 to schedule a consultation because you are worth it.