If you are missing one or more teeth in Dacula and you would like to permanently restore your smile, Dr. Josh Haycock and the team at Auburn Hills Family Dentistry are here to help. Learn more about implants below, or schedule a consultation now to see if you’re a good candidate for implants.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are two-part dental prostheses that are designed to restore one or more missing teeth. The implant itself is made of titanium, and is built to screw into your natural jaw bone and gum tissue. After it’s surgically implanted, the implant permanently bonds to your jaw bone, and is held in place securely.
The second part of a dental implant is the restoration. This can be a single crown to replace one missing tooth, or a set of implant-supported bridges or dentures to restore multiple missing teeth, or a full arch of missing teeth. The restoration is secured to the implant to hold it in place, and restore both your smile and your bite.
What Getting a Dental Implant Is Like
Before proceeding with an implant, it’s important to ensure that you’re a good candidate. That’s why we need to start with a full examination to examine the health and strength of your gums and jawbone.
If everything is in good shape, we will refer you to an oral surgeon who we work closely with for the surgical placement of the implant into your jawbone. You’ll be numb throughout this process, so the pain will be very minimal. Then, we have to wait for some time for the implant to fuse with your bone. This is a process called osseointegration and typically takes four to six months.
Once the post is solidly fused to your jawbone, we’ll place what’s called an abutment on top of the post, which acts as a foundation for the dental crown. Both the abutment and the crown will be made specifically for you to ensure the shape, color, and size matches your mouth and the rest of your teeth. We’ll take an impression of your mouth and send it to our labs to have these made custom.
Once we place the crown on the abutment, the process is complete!
How Do I Know If My Implant Needs to Be Restored?
While dental implants usually last 30+ years, implant-supported restorations (such as dental crowns) usually won’t last that long. In most cases, you’ll need to have your implant repaired and restored at some point during its lifespan.
The most obvious sign that your implant needs to be restored is visible signs of physical damage to your implant-supported restoration. For example, if your crown is chipped or cracked, or you notice any other damage to your restoration, it likely needs to be repaired or replaced to restore your smile.
In some cases, you may also notice that your implant feels wobbly or loose. This is usually caused by damage to the restoration, not the implant itself. The restoration may have been damaged or come loose from the implant abutment, which can cause it to move around.
On your own, it’s not always easy to tell if your implant needs to be restored. However, if it’s feeling strange or loose, you notice visible damage, or you suspect that it’s damaged for any other reason, come into Auburn Hills Family Dentistry. Dr. Haycock will examine your smile to determine whether or not your implant needs to be restored.
Does an Implant Restoration Hurt?
No. In most cases, the dental implant itself is not affected by any damage or decay, so there will be no need to remove the implant or perform any surgery around the implant, which is embedded in your gums and jaw.
Usually, the restoration process simply involves removing the old dental prosthesis (such as a dental crown) and repairing it or replacing it with a new one. This process is totally non-invasive, so it will not hurt at all.
The Implant Restoration Process
First, Dr. Haycock will begin with a comprehensive oral exam. He will examine your mouth and your implant(s) closely to ensure that your overall oral health is good. Then, he will perform a more in-depth exam of your implant(s), and look for signs of issues like peri-implantitis (gum disease around your implant), and determine the cause of your issue.
If your problem is related to damage to your dental prosthesis, such as a crown or dental bridge, Dr. Haycock will likely recommend that you replace this prosthesis with a new one. He will remove your existing prosthesis, then take dental impressions of your teeth and send these to a dental lab, where your new prosthesis will be built. You’ll come back into our office in a few weeks to have your new prosthesis bonded to your implant.
In the rare event that your issue is related to damage to the implant itself, Dr. Haycock will discuss your options. If you have peri-implantitis, for example, it may be possible to clean the area around the implant to remove the infection and allow the implant to heal and re-attach to the surrounding gums and jaw.
The exact process will differ significantly based on the root cause of your issue, so don’t wait. If you suspect something is wrong with your implant, contact the team at Auburn Hills Family Dentistry right away.
How To Tell If You Need Dental Implants
If you are missing one or more teeth, you are a good candidate for dental implants, particularly if you have lost your teeth relatively recently. It’s best to have dental implants placed within a year of tooth loss.
This is because after tooth loss, your jaw bone will begin to weaken because it’s no longer being stimulated by the pressure of biting and chewing, which is normally transmitted through your tooth. If your jaw bone is weak, you may need a bone graft to restore your jaw bone before you can get a dental implant, which will lead to a higher treatment cost and longer overall treatment process.
What Are The Benefits Of Dental Implants Vs. Dentures?
Compared to dentures, dental implants have a number of great benefits. The biggest difference between these two treatments is that dental implants support the long-term health of your jaw bone, while dentures do not.
This is because dental implants are directly implanted into the jaw. Just like a natural tooth, the jaw bone is stimulated by the pressure of biting and chewing, which keeps the bone strong. Dentures do not do this, so prolonged use of dentures eventually leads to bone loss (resorption) as the jaw bone weakens.
In addition, dental implants stay in place and look and feel more natural, compared to dentures. They will never shift or move. Your implant-supported restoration will be permanently attached to your implants, which hold it in place tightly. You will never have to worry about your implants shifting or moving when you try to eat, chew, or speak.
Finally, dental implants last a lot longer than dentures. A set of full or partial dentures must usually be replaced within 5-10 years. Dental implants can last you for the rest of your life, and implant-supported restorations like dental crowns and implant-supported bridges & dentures usually last at least 10-15 years. This makes dental implants a better long-term investment compared to dentures.
Determining If You’re A Good Candidate For Dental Implants
Usually, the first step in determining whether or not you’re a good candidate for dental implants is checking if your mouth is healthy. Dr. Haycock will perform a comprehensive oral exam to look for tooth decay, gum disease, and infected teeth, among other oral health problems.
If you do have any serious oral health issues, these must be resolved and treated appropriately before you can get dental implants. This helps reduce the risk of complications as you heal from implant surgery.
In addition, your jaw bone must be relatively strong and healthy before you can get a dental implant. After you lose a tooth, the jaw bone will weaken over time. That’s why it’s usually a good idea to try to get an implant within 1 year of losing your natural tooth. Dr. Haycock will perform an x-ray to check on the integrity, strength, and health of your jaw bone.
If your jaw bone is weak, you may still be able to get a dental implant. You will need a “bone graft” before the implant procedure can begin. In this procedure, Dr. Haycock will perform oral surgery to add bone granules to the treatment area. Over time, these granules will heal with the natural bone and strengthen the jaw bone sufficiently to accommodate a dental implant. This will add additional time and cost to your dental implant procedure, however.
Finally, you must either be a non-smoker, or be willing to quit for at least the duration of your healing and recovery process, which can take up to 3-6 months. Smoking is extremely harmful to your oral health and can interfere with the proper healing of dental implants.
Caring For Dental Implants
Proper at-home care for dental implants varies depending on the type of implant you receive. If you get a single-tooth implant that replaces your missing tooth with a dental crown, you don’t need to do anything special to care for your new tooth. Just brush twice a day and floss once a day, and see Dr. Haycock every six months for an oral exam and teeth cleaning.
If you get fixed, non-removable bridges to replace several or all of your teeth, the process of at-home care is a bit different. You’ll need to continue to brush your gums and your dental bridges twice a day. You’ll also need to floss below the bridge itself, or use an interdental brush or a water flosser like a Waterpik to remove any food or debris from below the dental bridge. Dr. Haycock will provide you with more detailed instructions after you receive your implant restoration.
Removable implant dentures can be treated very similarly to traditional dentures. You’ll want to remove and soak your dentures overnight to help your gums rest and to keep the dentures clean. You’ll also need to brush your gums, dentures, implants, and other appliances to keep your mouth healthy. Again, Dr. Haycock will ensure you get all the detailed care instructions you need after you receive your removable implant-supported dentures at Auburn Hills Family Dentistry.