If you’re missing one or more teeth for any reason, dental implants may be the best option. A qualified oral surgeon will assess both your needs and your overall oral health, determining if you’re a good candidate for this treatment option.
Many patients prefer implants over other replacement teeth, like dentures or bridges, for several reasons. First of all, unlike dentures, which typically replace an entire set of teeth, implants can replace individual teeth. This makes them ideal for certain patients. Implants are also permanently installed, and thus don’t require the constant maintenance associated with dentures. Most importantly, implants both look and function just like natural, healthy teeth. While patients must still care for them the way they would care for their natural teeth, implants are comparatively low-maintenance and are very effective at restoring a smile.
That said, oral surgeons and patients often must take certain actions to ensure the treatment is successful. That’s why it’s important to seek care from an experienced professional. They’ll be more likely to emphasize the importance of the following:
The process of getting a dental implant typically occurs over the course of several months and requires multiple visits to the oral surgeon. During the initial visits, the oral surgeon discusses a patient’s goals while examining their condition. If they are deemed to be a candidate for the treatment, the next stage involves installing the actual implant.
This implant itself is technically just a metal post that’s inserted into a patient’s jawbone. The patient is typically provided with a generic crown to conceal the post. At this stage, the patient’s tissue needs time to heal so the implant can fuse with the bone. Once the post is securely in place, the oral surgeon will switch out the generic crown with one designed to specifically match the look of the patient’s other natural teeth.
This means that the process is somewhat long and complex. However, it’s still important for an oral surgeon to schedule the treatment with efficiency in mind. That’s because when patients lose teeth, bone loss often follows. The jawbone requires sufficient tissue and strength to support the implant. If a patient loses too much jawbone tissue, they may not be a valid candidate for treatment.
Bone grafting is sometimes an option in cases where bone loss has already occurred. This process involves extracting bone from another part of a patient’s body and grafting it onto the jawbone to compensate for loss of tissue or strength. However, this step adds additional time and appointments to what is already a lengthy and involved procedure. Working relatively quickly to replace the lost teeth before substantial bone loss occurs can help patients avoid needing this extra step.
Dental implants are intended to be permanent, but like natural teeth, they can be lost for many different reasons. Often, this is simply because a patient fails to treat them with the same degree of care as their natural teeth. Implants still need to be brushed and flossed. Even if the bacteria that eats away at teeth doesn’t cause the same type of damage to the implant or crown itself, those bacteria can eat away at the gums and associated tissues that hold the implant in place.
A thorough oral surgeon will provide patients with information they need to identify problems with their implants before permanent damage occurs.
While some warning signs are obvious, like a visible implant post (this often occurs if a patient’s gums start to recede) or a loose-feeling crown, other warning signs are easy to overlook. For example, when a patient is in danger of losing an implant, the gums around the implant will appear darker. That’s because bacteria is eroding the tissue and making the gums thinner. As a result, the metal implant is starting to become visible through the gum tissue.
A quality oral surgeon will let patients know what types of warning signs they should look out for, and what they can do to prevent issues in the first place.
Dental implant treatments are generally more successful when oral surgeons leverage technology to ensure they’ve thoroughly examined a patient. Factors like the strength of a patient’s jawbone tissue and the final position of the implants all contribute to a successful outcome. It’s not unheard of for implants to fail because the patient’s jawbone strength was gauged incorrectly.
You need an oral surgeon who uses technology to prevent these problems. The right tools can help the oral surgeon take more accurate measurements as he or she assesses your condition. You also want an oral surgeon who emphasizes communication and performs thorough work, balancing efficiency with care.
Dental implants can change your life if you’re missing one or more teeth. Just make sure you’re in the hands of a qualified professional when you seek treatment. Finding the right oral surgeon boosts your odds of success.