Are you missing one or more teeth? Do you wish you could have those teeth back and have a fully functional set again–and a beautiful smile? Dental implants are a tooth replacement that is the most like your natural teeth. They look natural. They function like teeth do–eat all your favorite foods again. And you maintain them just like natural teeth: brush, floss, and make regular dental visits. If you maintain them properly, they can even last a lifetime.

To learn whether you’re a dental implant candidate in Butler, please call (724) 282-4436 today to schedule an introduction to implant dentistry with implant dentist Dr. Bob at Advanced Dentistry of Butler.

What Is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root, usually made from titanium, that connects with your jawbone to anchor one or more replacement teeth. 

The implant itself is not visible–it’s in your jawbone. The visible replacement tooth or teeth are a restoration, such as a dental crown, dental bridge, or denture. These connect to the implant, often using a small piece called an abutment. 

Sometimes we refer to the entire unit–implant, abutment, and restoration–as a dental implant for the sake of simplicity.

Benefits of Dental Implants

Dental implants have rapidly become the most desirable tooth replacement option available. That’s because they:

  • Look like natural teeth
  • Let you eat all your favorite foods
  • Won’t fall out
  • Require no special maintenance
  • Support themselves
  • Stimulate your gums and jawbone to maintain appearance
  • Can last a lifetime with proper care

Dental implants look like natural teeth because they’re built like natural teeth. They have a root that bonds with the jawbone, and an attractive crown for chewing and appearance. Once they bond to your jawbone, they are secure and functional, so you can eat all your favorite foods, even those you might have thought you’d given up–whole apples, corn on the cob, steak.

Dental implants don’t require any special maintenance. All you have to do is brush, floss, and make regular dental visits, like with your natural teeth.

Dental implants support themselves in your bone, which means they aren’t leaning on or bonded to your natural teeth. This helps preserve the natural teeth. It also helps stimulate your jaw so your body maintains the bone and gums, which helps the implant and the rest of your smile look good for longer.

Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?

Yes, you are most likely a good candidate for dental implants. There are only 3 absolute requirements for a dental implant candidate:

  • You must be an adult whose jaw has stopped growing
  • You must have one or more missing teeth
  • You must be healthy enough for surgery

If you meet these three criteria, you are a candidate for dental implants, but it may not be simple. We have to take care if you:

  • Have gum disease
  • Have low bone at the implant site
  • Are taking certain medications
  • Are a smoker

Dental implants are vulnerable to gum disease like teeth, so we might want to treat your gum disease before placing implants. And if you don’t have enough bone to support an implant, we might perform a bone graft first to make sure the implant will be secure.

Some medications can impact the success of your dental implants, such as antidepressants and osteoporosis medications. We will talk to you and your doctor about the relative risks and consider if medication changes are necessary.

Smoking can triple your risk of dental implant failure. It’s recommended that you quit smoking before you get dental implants. At a minimum, you should not smoke for several weeks before you get an implant and for at least 8 weeks after implant placement.

How Long Does It Take to Get Dental Implants?

The amount of time it takes to get dental implants is highly variable. It depends on some of the factors we listed above. Before you get dental implants, you might need gum disease treatment and/or a bone graft. Each of these can take up to three months before we’re ready to place your dental implants. 

Once you get your dental implant, we have to evaluate its stability. If it’s stable enough, you can get a restoration placed on the implant right away. If it’s not stable enough, we will have to give your implant time to heal before placing the restoration.

Repairing and Replacing Old Implant Restorations

The dental implant can easily last a lifetime, but the restorations attached to the implant may need repair periodically and replacement in 10-30 years. 

Some of the more common reasons why people need their dental implant restorations repaired or replaced include:

  • Implant no longer matches teeth
  • Restoration is chipped or cracked
  • Restoration is loose
  • Implant is exposed

Initially, your implant restoration will likely be such a perfect match for your natural teeth that a stranger won’t know which tooth is the implant. Over time, though, the implant may no longer match your teeth. Usually, your teeth grow darker, while the restoration retains its beautiful brightness. 

As with natural teeth, dental implant restorations can get chipped and cracked because of biting or trauma. A replacement restoration is usually easy to place.

We understand that you might panic if your implant starts to feel loose. However, most of the time it’s not the implant itself that is loose. It’s the restoration. Either the restoration or the abutment (connecting piece) is damaged or loose. At best, we might be able to simply re-screw or rebond the restoration. Sometimes, we might have to replace it. 

The dental implant isn’t supposed to be visible. If your titanium implant is exposed, we will have to evaluate your oral health to make sure you don’t have peri-implantitis (gum disease affecting your implant) that’s causing receding gums. If the implant looks healthy and stable, we might simply replace the restoration to better conceal your implant. 

Get Your Tooth Replacement Now

If you’re unhappy with the gaps in your smile, dental implants can make your smile whole again. To get your implant procedure started, please call (724) 282-4436 today for an appointment with Dr. Bob at Advanced Dentistry of Butler.