A New Smile
It’s no fun when you’re missing teeth. You may not feel comfortable eating or speaking. You might even avoid smiling in public. Fortunately, dental implants can help. Implants can replace a single tooth, several teeth, or all the teeth in you mouth. Best of all, they look and feel like natural teeth.
When Teeth Are Missing
It can be embarrassing to have spaces in your mouth where teeth are missing. But you’re not alone. Some people lose teeth due to injury, tooth decay, or periodontal disease (infection of the gums and bone surrounding teeth). Others may not have had all their teeth grow in. Whatever the reason, dental implants can help replace missing teeth. And implants often feel more natural than dentures and other dental restorations.
Implants Can Help
If you want a dental restoration that looks and feels as though it’s really part of your mouth, dental implants may be right for you. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root. Your jawbone fuses with the implant to provide a secure platform for prosthesis (artificial tooth). If you are missing many teeth, several implants can be used to support a partial or complete denture.
Your Dental Evaluation
To learn whether you’re a good candidate for dental implants, you will have a dental evaluation. The evaluation includes a dental exam, a dental and medical history, and imaging tests. As part of the exam, the health and structure of your mouth are studied. This helps Dr. Chow understand where to place the implants.
Your Dental Exam
An exam supplies important details about the structure of your mouth. Your bite is studied to see how your jaws and teeth fit together. The condition of your jaws, gums, head, and neck is also checked. This is done to see whether your mouth is ready to accept implants. During the exam:
- The height and width of your jawbones are measured. This is done to make sure there is enough bone to hold an implant.
- Your gums are examined for signs of periodontal disease. Diseased gums need to be treated before implants can be placed.
- Your gums are also checked to see if there is enough firm tissue to surround an implant.
The Importance of Your Dental History
The more Dr. Chow learns about you, the more successful your implant surgery is likely to be. Your dental and medical history is an important part of this learning process. It includes questions about your overall health and any previous dental treatments, such as crowns and bridges. You’ll also discuss your expectations. Why do you want implants? What do you hope the results will be? Finally, you’ll discuss factors that can affect healing after surgery. These include smoking and the use of certain medications.
If You Have an Ongoing Medical Condition
If you have an ongoing medical condition, such as diabetes, you may have blood tests. This is to make sure your condition is under control before treatment begins. Also, be sure to tell your surgeon if you take medications, such as insulin or a blood thinner, including aspirin.
The Importance of Imaging Tests
Imaging tests are a key part of the dental evaluation. They make it possible to view parts of the mouth and head that can’t be seen during an exam. Imaging tests also help Dr. Chow learn more about the quantity and quality of the bone in your mouth.
- Dental x-rays show teeth and jaws.
- Panoramic x-rays provide a wide view of the jaws, teeth, nerves, and sinuses. They can also help indicate bone problems.
- Other imaging tests, such as a CT scan or x-ray tomography, may also be used.
How Implants compare with other Tooth Replacement Therapies?
Forming A Treatment Plan
After the evaluation, Dr. Chow and your restorative dentist will consult with you to determine where and how your implant should be placed. Depending on your specific condition and the type of implant chosen, Dr. Chow will create a treatment plan tailored to meet your needs.
Replacing a Single Tooth — If you are missing a single tooth, one implant and a crown can replace it. A dental implant replaces both the lost natural tooth and its root.
Replacing Several Teeth — If you are missing several teeth, implant-supported bridges can replace them. Dental implants will replace both your lost natural teeth and some of the roots.
Replacing All of Your Teeth — If you are missing all of your teeth, an implant-supported full bridge or full denture can replace them. Dental implants will replace both your lost natural teeth and some of the roots.
Sinus Augmentation — A key to implant success is the quantity and quality of the bone where the implant is to be placed. The upper back jaw has traditionally been one of the most difficult areas to successfully place dental implants due to insufficient bone quantity and quality and the close proximity to the sinus. Sinus augmentation can help correct this problem by raising the sinus floor and developing bone for the placement of dental implants.
Ridge Modification — Deformities in the upper or lower jaw can leave you with inadequate bone in which to place dental implants. To correct the problem, the gum is lifted away from the ridge to expose the bony defect. The defect is then filled with bone or bone substitute to build up the ridge. Ridge modification has been shown to greatly improve appearance and increase your chances for successful implants that can last for years to come.
Good Habits To Last A Lifetime
As you know, your own teeth require conscientious at-home oral care and regular dental visits. Dental implants are like your own teeth and will require the same care. In order to keep your implant clean and plaque-free, brushing and flossing still apply!
After treatment, your periodontist will work closely with you and your dentist to develop the best care plan for you. Periodic follow-up visits will be scheduled to monitor your implant, teeth and gums to make sure they are healthy.