Dental Implants: What To Expect

Are you a good candidate for a dental implant?

It’s not your everyday dental procedure, that’s for sure. When you need an extraction and opt for an implant instead of dentures you’re giving yourself a boatload of perks, but there can be some drawbacks and exclusions. Your dentist can tell you if you’re a good candidate for dental implants, and if he or she says NO, listen.

To have dental implants you should have a healthy and strong jawbone in order for the titanium post to be implanted into the bone, just like the roots of a real tooth. If your jaw bone isn’t suitable it doesn’t mean an implant is out of the question. It just means you may need some extra work, extra appointments, procedures, even including a bone graft.

You Should Not Have a Dental Implant If:

  • Your jawbone is still growing. Jawbones are finished growing by the age of twenty for both men and women.
  • You’re pregnant. An implant isn’t out of the question, but should be done after birth and recovery.
  • You’re a heavy smoker. Smoking decreases the success of an implant because it doesn’t support healing.
  • You abuse drugs or alcohol. Most dentists cannot depend on substance abusers to follow post-op care instructions.
  • You have undergone high-dose radiation treatments to the head or neck.
  • You have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, systemic problems, or many autoimmune disorders.
  • You take certain immunosuppressant medications. Steroids and anti rejection meds can interrupt healing and raise risks of infection.
  • You severely grind or clench your teeth. The pressure of grinding and clenching (even absent-mindedly) can make an implant fail.

When It’s Go-Time

If you have had an evaluation from a trusted dentist and he or she has deemed you a good candidate, congratulations! You’re one step away from a new tooth! You won’t have to worry about ill-fitting and uncomfortable dentures.

First Thing’s First: Bone Grafting

If your jawbone is too soft, or otherwise damaged you can still have dental implants after your dentist strengthens your jaw bone by surgically grafting a piece of bone onto the implant sight. This bone can come from another area of the jaw, or another part of your body. In some cases you can have it completed at the same time as the implant.

The Waiting Game: The Implant and Bone Growth

When the jawbone is ready, a titanium post is placed into the bone. Then your dentist will wait for the bone to grow around the post, a process called osseointegration. This can take several months in some cases, so your dentist may place a temporary denture over the space.

Surgery #2: Almost Finished

When the post has a sturdy anchor in the jawbone your dentist is ready to place the abutment. The gum is opened for this procedure and replaced, leaving the abutment uncovered, and the area is allowed to heal 2-3 weeks.

Your Implant is Ready

Assuming you’ve already chosen your prosthetic and your dentist has completed it, it is time to attach it to the abutment.

The work might be finished, but the recovery takes time. You can expect swelling, bruising, pain, and minor bleeding.

When you choose the right dentist you can be sure that he or she is available for your questions and concerns during your recovery process, as well as the whole dental implant process from start to finish!

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