What You Need to Know About Dental Implants

Alongside allowing you to chew your favorite foods and speak clearly, your smile is one of the most influential, memorable, and attractive features of your face. If your smile’s function or appearance has been affected by tooth loss, a dental implant restoration, which is not as painful as you may think, can help you reclaim your smile’s health, comfort, and beauty. Here are 10 facts you need to know about how dental implants can help you create a long-lasting smile that’s strong, functional, and totally natural-looking.

1. A dental implant restoration can replace one or several teeth.

Whether you’ve lost a single tooth or an entire arch of teeth, an implant restoration can be customized to meet your dental situation and needs.

To replace one tooth, you’ll receive a single dental implant, which will be completed with a dental crown made of porcelain, metal, or a fusion of both. When replacing two to six adjacent teeth, you’ll receive one or two dental implants to support a series of interconnected dental crowns (known as a bridge).

For a full arch of teeth (known as implant dentures), you’ll receive anywhere from two to eight dental implants to support a removable overdenture. Your custom overdenture will be composed of acrylic or porcelain prosthetic teeth that are anchored in an acrylic base that resembles the color and texture of your natural gum tissue.

2. Dental implant posts are made from durable titanium.

From golf clubs to space shuttles, titanium’s lightweight durability makes it an ideal material for use in sports equipment, manufacturing, aerospace engineering, medicine, and dentistry.

As strong as steel with half the weight, titanium is also naturally resistant to corrosion and is generally well tolerated by living tissues (known as biocompatibility). Dubbed the most biocompatible metal, titanium is the preferred option for replacing worn or missing parts of the human body, including hips, knees, shoulders, and—you guessed it—teeth.

3. Like natural teeth, implants become a part of your bone structure.

When it comes to replacing missing teeth, titanium implants take their biocompatibility one step further. In the months following implant placement, a direct and sturdy bond will form between each titanium implant and your jawbone (a process known as osseointegration). Osseointegration gives dental implants their renowned stability while transferring the positive force of chewing throughout your jawbone, just like natural teeth.

4. Dental implants replace your entire tooth, including the root.

Your natural teeth go more than skin deep. Beneath your gumline, the roots of your teeth make up two-thirds of your total tooth structure in order to stabilize your teeth and distribute the positive force of chewing throughout your jawbone (more on that in #5).

Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that replaces both the root and crown of one or more missing teeth. Titanium dental implant posts function as the roots of missing teeth, while beautifully designed crowns, bridges, or implant dentures make your smile whole and functional (learn more in #6).

5. A dental implant restoration prevents facial bone loss.

Similar to how the bones of your body depend on physical activity to maintain their strength and density, your jawbones depend on the force of chewing to stay strong, thick, and healthy. Missing one or more teeth reduces the amount of positive force your jawbones receive while placing excess pressure on any remaining teeth. The lack of positive stress and stimulation gradually causes the jawbone to essentially “melt away” and shrink (called resorption), eventually causing the mouth and cheeks to appear hollow or sunken.

Bone loss in the jaw and face is one of the most unwelcome long-term side effects of losing teeth, though it can be prevented with dental implants. Because they so closely replicate the structure and anatomy of natural teeth, dental implants help prevent bone loss by transferring the force of chewing throughout your jawbone. Alongside promoting a healthy jaw and minimizing stress on any remaining natural teeth, dental implants help preserve the natural bone structure of your face, mouth, and cheeks.

6. Dental implants look, act, and feel like real teeth.

A dental implant restoration is meticulously designed to mimic the color, contour, function, and strength of natural teeth. You’ll even keep up with the same oral health habits that are essential for healthy natural teeth, such as regular dental visits, daily brushing and flossing, and positive lifestyle choices. If you have removable implant dentures, the only difference is that you’ll place your prosthetic teeth in a cleaning solution while you sleep to promote your best oral health and keep your overdenture fresh, clean, and shiny.

Whether you have an implant-supported crown, denture, or bridge, no one will be able to distinguish your implant restoration from natural teeth. And after you’ve gotten used to the presence and feeling of your new teeth, you may even forget that you had an implant restoration in the first place.

7. An implant restoration won’t shift out of place.

Given that your teeth exert an average biting force of 171 pounds, a prosthetic tooth or denture that shifts out of place can be distracting at best and painful at worst. The discomfort caused by an ill-fitting prosthesis can make it difficult to chew comfortably and speak normally, which can make social situations feel nerve-wracking or embarrassing.

Thanks to osseointegration (see #3), your implant restoration doesn’t require any adhesives and won’t shift out of place when you talk, smile, and eat, helping to restore your sense of confidence and normalcy.

8. Dental implant placement is a straightforward procedure.

Though some patients are apprehensive about having dental implants placed, many patients find that the experience is less painful than expected. A dental implant procedure can actually be a smooth and positive experience, especially when done by an experienced implant dentist.

The process begins with an initial consultation, where your dentist will take detailed X-rays and 3D images of your mouth and face, discuss your options, and develop a custom plan for implant surgery. If your consultation reveals that there is inadequate bone to support an implant, you will likely undergo a bone regeneration procedure to add strength and density to your jawbone with bone graft material, stem cell therapy, or a combination of the two. The quality and quantity of your bone will improve in the months following your bone regeneration procedure, giving you a strong and reliable base for implant placement.

During your implant placement procedure, your dentist will first make you comfortable with local anesthesia and oral or IV sedation, so you won’t feel anything during the procedure. Your dentist will then gently open the gum tissue and strategically place your implants into the jawbone. Before placing sutures to close your gum tissue for healing, your dentist may also provide you with stem cell therapy to reduce infection risk, promote faster healing, and encourage a more comfortable post-operative experience.

Like any other oral surgery, you may experience some discomfort, swelling, and/or minor bleeding during the first few days. Most patients are able to comfortably manage their symptoms with over-the-counter medications and self-care techniques and are able to return to work in one to three days.

9. A dental implant restoration is a sensible investment.

Your smile is an asset to your physical, psychological, professional, and social well-being, which is why replacing missing teeth is such a positive investment in your overall health. In addition to providing you with a fully functional and natural-looking smile, dental implants offer the added benefits of a high success rate and remarkable longevity. For patients who stick to good oral health habits and abstain from tobacco and smoking, dental implants offer a success rate between 90 and 95% and can last for more than 25 years.

How much dental implants cost will depend on your unique dental situation, such as whether or not you require bone regeneration and how many implants you need. Your dentist will explain the best options for your individual needs and help you make plans for a successful and sustainable dental implant restoration.

10. Dental implants are near you.

If you’ve been searching for “dental implants near me,” your search can come to an end if you’ve landed on OneSource Dental’s page. A longtime member of both the American Academy of Implant Dentistry and the American Dental Implant Association, Dr. Nancy Horton has been providing South Tampa patients with the best in restorative care and implant dentistry for over two decades.

To learn how you can reclaim your smile’s health and beauty with a dental implant restoration, contact us at OneSource Dental in South Tampa, FL, to schedule your appointment today.