I am ready to replace my missing teeth with dental implants. What’s next?

Dental implants are the fastest growing dental procedure being done over the last 10 years. Implants are brought up by our patients on a daily basis, and there are some misconceptions out there about implants. We wanted to clear up some misinformation that we have been hearing from our patients about implants. Here are some facts from the American Academy of Implant Dentistry or AAID:

  • It has been estimated that 69 percent of Americans age 35 to 44 have at least one missing tooth, and one in four over the age of 74 have lost ALL of their natural teeth.
  • There are many ways to replace missing teeth, from partials and bridges, to full dentures. But only dental implants provide the sensation, chewing ability, and look of natural teeth.
  • Many advances in dental implant technology have been made over the last few decades. The implants used today are safer and more effective than they ever have been before.
  • Dental implants are usually made of titanium, and replace the root of the missing tooth. Once the implant integrates with the bone around it, a replacement tooth, or a crown, can be placed.
  • Unlike natural teeth, teeth restored with dental implants cannot get cavities. Titanium (the implant) and porcelain (the crown) don’t decay like natural teeth do. But, you still need to care for them  as you would a natural tooth.
  • Dental implants are the only dental restoration option that preserves and stimulates natural bone, actually helping to stimulate bone growth and prevent bone loss.

After you have decided to replace your missing teeth with dental implants there are a few steps that the dentist will need to take to prepare to place the implant. Here at Legacy Dental Group, we take a couple of extra steps to ensure the best placement of the implant is achieved so the replacement tooth looks the best it can. The steps that are taken are as follows:

  • First, if you still have the tooth that needs to be replaced, the natural tooth would need to be taken out, and more often than not, what’s called a bone graft will need to be placed in the site. The bone graft helps to preserve the bone in the jaw where the implant will need to be placed.
  • Next, after about three months of healing, you would come back so that a cone beam CT scan can be taken. This image helps the doctor determine whether the site has healed enough for the placement of the dental implant. This also allows the doctor to see exactly how much room there is so he will know exactly what size implant he will need to place, and at what angle.
  • After the cone beam CT has been taken, the doctor will use that image to plan the implant placement and order what is called a surgical guide. this guide fits over the surrounding teeth and has an opening precisely where the doctor needs to place the implant. The guide needs to be sent out to an off-site lab to fabricate, and usually takes about 2 weeks to get back to us.
  • When we receive the guide back from the lab, the implant is ready to be placed! Since we perform guided implant placement here, the actual appointment to place the implant is only as long as an appointment to do a simple filling, and actually is less complicated.
  • After the implant has been placed, the area will need to heal for approximately 3-6 months. During this time, the implant will be integrating (fusing with) the bone around it, providing a stable base for the replacement tooth (crown) that will need to be placed on top of it.
  • When the doctor determines that the implant has fully integrated with the bone, the implant is ready to be restored. To restore the implant the doctor will need to take an impression of the implant so the crown can be planned precisely where it needs to go aesthetically.
  • The final step, once the crown has been fabricated (usually on-site with our CEREC unit, but in certain circumstances at an off-site lab), is to seat the crown on the implant completing the process, much like a crown is placed on a natural tooth.

We hope that this clears up some questions that you may have had about dental implants. We do offer complimentary consultations for patients that want to look into dental implants, so give us a call as soon as you can at 602-993-4200 to schedule an appointment to come see us!

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