It’s not ideal to have a missing tooth. There is the aesthetic factor, of course: the empty space in your smile can lead to self-consciousness and an unwillingness to smile at all. That gap can also have an impact on how you eat or talk and your other teeth may shift to take advantage of that available real estate in your mouth. Over time a missing tooth can change the shape of your face, altering your appearance even when you’re not smiling. Finally, the bone where the tooth used to be could start to deteriorate, leading to complications with the rest of your teeth and with your oral health.
When people lose a tooth in an accident or to decay, an option for replacing that tooth is dental implants created by Commonwealth Prosthodontics.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Dental implants are a great choice to replace missing teeth. You don’t have to fuss with removable dentures and the implant looks just like a real tooth to restore your confidence in your smile.
The implants are generally made of titanium, which is well-accepted by the body. When the bone heals, it fuses tightly around the new “root” of your implant, creating a strong, secure tooth for you.
In the case of many missing teeth, implants can be used to support partial-mouth dentures or a bridge as well.
What to Expect When You Get Dental Implants
Since this is a surgical procedure, your mouth and overall health will be carefully evaluated to make sure you’re a good candidate for dental implants. Your jawbone must be fully grown and your bones and gums must be healthy. The American Dental Association points out that certain chronic conditions and diseases, like cancer or diabetes, could slow the healing process, so implants might not be recommended in those circumstances.
The surgery itself involves several steps that may take several months, as outlined by Mayo Clinic:
- You’ll have a thorough dental exam and evaluation, possibly with a variety of dental specialists, to determine the course of action.
- If necessary, the damaged tooth is removed and the bone is prepared for surgery.
- The dental implant post is placed in your jaw. It may be accompanied by a temporary denture to complete your smile while you wait for the permanent piece.
- The jawbone is given time to heal. This is the most time-consuming part, as the bone needs time to fuse to the post to create a stable base for your artificial tooth.
- After it has healed, the surgeon places the abutment (the base for the crown) by opening the gum and attaching it to the post. (Sometimes, this is done when the post is placed.)
- When the gums heal, your artificial tooth will be created and placed.
How to Care for Your Dental Implants
Taking care of your dental implants is much like taking care of your real teeth! Even though you don’t have to worry about decay in an artificial tooth and the implants are incredibly strong, the gums around your teeth still need to be kept healthy. Here are a few tips for protecting your dental work:
- Brush and floss regularly to keep your real teeth and the gums healthy.
- Stop smoking. Tobacco use can interfere with the body’s ability to accept the implant. In some cases, being a smoker may prevent dental implants from being an option for you in the first place.
- Get regular professional dental cleanings. Your dentist will offer additional guidance on caring for your teeth and gums and can recommend the best toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash for you.
- Avoid chewing hard foods (like ice) or using your teeth to open packages. Implants are strong, but it is possible to break a crown, just as it’s possible to break a real tooth.
With good health and proper care, you can expect your implants to last a lifetime. Furthermore, that good oral hygiene will help protect the rest of your natural teeth, perhaps helping you avoid the need for additional implants in the future. Enjoy your restored smile!
Commonwealth Prosthodontics in Richmond, VA recommends dental implants to replace missing teeth. Our on-site laboratory means that your treatment time is minimized while your implants are created. To make an appointment with one of our prosthodontists, contact us at (804) 346-3366. Our specialized team is happy to work with you to find the solution that best fits your budget, time frame and lifestyle!