When it comes to tooth replacement options, dental implants are at the top of the pile. With the science behind them discovered by accident in the mid-fifties and perfected in recent years, dental implants are designed to meld with your existing bone tissue, providing a stable, secure replacement dental root that acts as the base for an incredibly realistic dental crown.

Benefits of Dental Implants

In addition to looking completely natural, dental implants also offer a wide range of powerful benefits. Other tooth replacement options may rub on the gum tissue and cause discomfort, as well as contributing to further tooth loss and failing to prevent bone loss. But dental implants are independently supported, which helps to protect the strength of the dental arch. Dental implants also give patients a new sense of confidence, since they don’t have to worry about their false teeth slipping out of place. Some research has even shown that tooth replacement options like dental implants can improve nutrition, allowing patients to enjoy a varied diet filled with crunchy fruits and vegetables.

Dental implants are also available in a range of styles and configurations, helping an implant dentist such as Dr. Anderson customize tooth replacement options for each and every patient. For example, mini dental implants can be used when patients don’t have enough healthy jaw tissue for traditional dental implants, and implant-supported dentures can be used when patients need a full bridge but don’t want to worry about slippage.

Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?

In order to be a candidate for dental implants, patients need to be completely committed to a healthy dental hygiene routine. Because smoking can make it hard for oral tissues to heal, patients who smoke should also be committed to stopping smoking altogether, or at least not smoking during the treatment timeline. Patients who have taken bisphosphonate medications in the past such as Fosamax and Boniva may not be eligible for dental implants, since these medications can permanently alter the way the jaw tissue heals, which can put patients at risk for developing significant complications. The best way to determine whether dental implants are right for you is to request an appointment with Dr. Anderson to discuss your medical history, your dental goals, and your current condition.

Dental Implant Installation Timeline

Because installing dental implants involves a rather complex oral surgery, the procedure typically takes more than one visit and can span several months. Your personal timeline will depend on your medical history and your current dental health. Here is a step-by-step explanation of the dental implant installation timeline.

Dental Consultation

Before your treatment begins, implant dentist Dr. Anderson will meet with you for a dental implant consultation. These visits are used to determine if you’re a candidate for dental implants and will involve a comprehensive oral exam, X-rays, and other measurements. During this appointment, you can also talk with our staff to discuss your insurance coverage and payment options, so that you know what to expect.

Prerequisite Procedures

Every smile is different, and sometimes tooth extractions or bone grafts are necessary to pave the way for dental implants. Tooth extractions are required if dental cracks go beyond the gum line, or if the tooth is too decayed to restore. In some instances, dental implants can even be placed on the same day as an extraction. However, if the area is infected, it may need time to heal before posts can be placed.

If bone tissue isn’t deep, wide, or healthy enough, bone grafts may be necessary to prepare the area for dental implants. During bone grafting, sanitized bone material or a synthetic substitute is packed into place around your natural bone, where it has the chance to heal and fuse to your tissue. If you need a bone graft, you may need to heal for between 3-6 months before implants can be installed.

The Placement of Implants

Once your mouth is completely healed and the bone and tissue are healthy and strong, you are ready to have your implant posts placed. These small titanium rods are surgically implanted into the bone tissue, and depending on your dental health, Dr. Anderson may decide to cover them to give them more time to heal or add a healing cap to streamline final crown placement. Regardless, posts need between 4-6 months to heal and integrate with natural bone tissue before final dental crowns can be placed.

Follow-Up Appointments to Check Healing

After dental implant posts have been placed, Dr. Anderson will need to meet with you to check the progress of your dental implants in Philadelphia. Any irregularities, unusual pain, or signs of infection should be reported immediately.

Appointment to Uncover Implants

If your dental implant posts were left buried underneath the gum tissue, you will need to have an additional appointment to have them uncovered. This uncovering appointment usually occurs after about four months. During this appointment, a healing cap will be placed, which contours the gum tissue in preparation for the final crown.

Impressions and Abutment

Once all of your tissues have healed, you are ready for final impressions and abutments. Abutments are the collars that connect your dental implant posts to the final crown. During this appointment, Dr. Anderson will take impressions of your gum tissue and talk with you about tooth color and final details. This information is then sent to the dental lab, where technicians will sculpt your final crowns.

Crown Placement

After your crowns are back in from the lab, you will be asked to come in to have them fitted onto your dental implants. You’ll be able to talk and eat normally as soon as your final crowns are in place.

Abutment and Placement

Most implants have three pieces: the implant that goes in your bone, the abutment (or connector) that holds the tooth, and the crown tooth that attaches to the abutment. The crown is shaped like a tooth and made to look like the others around it so that it is not obviously false. Abutments are made of different materials, most commonly titanium, but they can also be made of gold or zirconia. A special type of dental cement is used to keep the crown attached to the abutment. Well made dental implants have a very tight connection between the implant and the abutment. This is important for the long-term maintenance of your bone around the implant.

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Here at Dental Care of Bixby, our goal is to create healthy smiles that patients are proud to show off. For some patients, our All-on-4® dental implant restoration is the ideal solution. 

With the All-on-4 process, patients who are in danger of losing all or most of their upper and/or lower teeth will enjoy durable, long-lasting replacements that function and feel like normal teeth. Best of all, you can avoid the need for loose, restrictive dentures.

Read more about All-on-4

Implants vs. Bridges

Dental implants are the next best thing to your healthy, natural teeth. Strong and stable, a dental implant restores a lost tooth so that it looks, feels, fits and functions like a natural tooth when implanted by your dentist.  While dental implants may need periodic adjustments, they can last a lifetime when properly placed and cared for over time.

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Implant-Supported Bridges

A bridge is a restoration for two or more missing teeth in a row. Common restorations like fixed bridges or removable partials can cause the surrounding bone to weaken because they are dependent on adjacent teeth for support. However, implant-supported bridges integrate with the natural bone, providing a much stronger and more natural restoration.

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Implant-Supported Crowns

A dental crown is a restoration that replaces the top part of the tooth. A single tooth that needs to be completely replaced can be restored utilizing an implant-supported crown. The crown is typically made of porcelain, giving the restoration a natural look.

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Implant-Supported Dentures

An implant-supported denture is a type of overdenture (a removable partial denture or a complete denture that covers and rests on one or more remaining natural teeth, the roots of natural teeth, and/or dental implants) that is supported by, and attached to, implants. A regular denture rests on the gums and is not supported by implants.

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Individual Dental Implants

A dental implant is a titanium post that is surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath the gum line to replace the tooth's root. It is then topped with a crown after healing to provide the appearance of a natural, healthy tooth. If you're considering implants, you must have healthy gums and a jaw bone that is strong enough to secure and support the post.

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Mini Dental Implants

Mini dental implants are an alternative to conventional implants. As implied by the name, they are about half the width of regular implants. Mini implants are often suggested for patients whose bone width is not dense enough to support regular implants. These mini-implants can be used to stabilize dentures or a restoration for a small tooth, front tooth or teeth located in a narrow space.

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Other Things You Should Know

Make an Appointment with The Perio Group Today

Although receiving dental implants can be a long process, the results are well worth the wait. With implants, you can enjoy a completely natural-looking and feeling smile that is easy to take care of. To find out if you are a candidate for dental implants, make an appointment with Dr. Anderson today!