The rise of dental implants over the past 10-15 years has been phenomenal. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) it’s thought that over 3 million Americans currently have dental implants. This is set to rise to around 500,000 per year moving forwards. There are several reasons for this….
Firstly with the increase in popularity of the internet there’s far more information available. As such people have a better understanding about how implants work. Secondly there’s a greater availability of dental offices offering dental implants. So now, virtually anyone in any town in America can have implant treatment done locally. Finally, better improved payment plans allow patients to spread the cost over a period of time, making implants more affordable.
So how do they differ from other forms of missing tooth replacement?
Unlike conventional dentures which sit on the gum line, dental implants are anchored directly into the jaw bone, making them stronger and more durable than their counterparts. What’s more, if cared for properly they can outlast conventional dentures by as much as three times. They’re also more lifelike and easier to maintain than dentures as they don’t require removing and soaking. Finally, perhaps the biggest advantage of dental implants is that they help to prevent natural bone shrinkage that occurs when teeth are missing. This is something that conventional dentures can’t do.
So how are tooth implants utilized?
Most people are aware that dental implants replace a missing tooth on a one-for-one basis, but what they might not know is that they can also be used as a stand-alone support for a bridge, as well as for retaining a denture. In essence, as well as replacing missing teeth, dental implants provide a solid platform for the support of a wide variety of prosthetic teeth.
The process is carried out in stages. Here’s how it works….
During the consultation process Dr Akinwande will take you through a series of examinations such as CT scans and/or X-rays in order to evaluate your bone density. In addition you’ll be asked questions regarding your past medical history and lifestyle. This is to ensure the best chances of implant success. From these results Dr Akinwande will put together a personalized treatment plan based on your needs and requirements.
Fitting of the implant
The next step is to undergo surgery. Provided that the patient has sufficient bone and a healthy mouth the team at Chesterfield Dentistry will place the implant. This is done chair-side using a mild to moderate anesthetic so the patient remains awake. The procedure is relatively quick (normally 1-2 hours) and is pain-free. Firstly we’ll drill a small hole into the jaw and insert the titanium rod (this is the implant itself). Next a cap is the placed on the implant to protect it and the gum area is enclosed to fit around the implant.
The next stage is known as osseointegration and is where the surrounding bone tissue fuses with the titanium implant over time. This is a vital part of the process and is what gives the implant its strong and durable nature. This normally takes anywhere between 3-6 months to complete and in the meantime, patients can carry on with their normal daily lives. In the case of multiple missing teeth patients may also be issued with temporary dentures.
Fitting the abutment
Once Dr Akinwande is satisfied that the bone tissue has successfully fused with the implant, the abutment can be fitted. This is the second stage of surgery. Again a local anesthetic is administered and the implant is uncovered in order to attach the abutment. The abutment provides the connection between the prosthetic crown and the titanium implant, and also acts as a shock absorber when biting down on the tooth, so it’s a vital part of the process.
Some weeks later the patient is called back to our office where their temporary crown is removed and replaced with the lifelike permanent construction. Generally speaking the whole process takes between 4 and 9 months to complete depending upon the individual. If however the person requires a bone graft prior to placing any implants, then the process can often take longer.
What should I expect if implants are right for me?
If you’re considering dental implants then it’s understandable you might be worried about what might happen. Dr Akinwande and the team are on hand to explain the procedure fully. Your individual treatment plan will detail what treatments you need and when, so you know what to expect. We can also put you in touch with people who have had the process done if you wish, to give you peace of mind; but don’t forget you can always ask us any questions or voice any concerns that you have at any stage of the process.
What about post treatment?
As the implant process involves a surgical procedure it’s normal for some people to feel a small amount of discomfort and/or swelling and bruising. This can depend on the person and/or the amount of treatment they’ve had. For instance it isn’t uncommon for a person who has had a straight forward implant to return to work the very next day, with little or no signs of bruising/swelling. Conversely, a patient who has experienced multiple implants may take longer to recover. That said, any pain or discomfort felt should be minimal and is normally brought under control using over-the-counter pain killers. Patients may also be asked to eat softer foods at first, but should be able to eat normally within 2-3 weeks.
The bottom line is that dental implants can make a whole world of difference to a person’s everyday life. It allows them a restored smile, restored confidence, and a rejuvenated appearance. To find out more about dental implants contact Dr Akinwande and the team at Chesterfield Dentistry on (314) 469 6429