For those patients with missing teeth, we are pleased to offer dental implants. Dental implants are the most effective way to replace missing teeth. They offer long-lasting results while helping to preserve the tooth-supporting bone that naturally deteriorates when a tooth is lost. Loss of bone is one of the major hidden consequences of losing teeth. Implants have a documented success rate of over 95%, which is significantly higher than any other tooth-replacement option.
What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is typically a small, screw-shaped titanium post that replaces the root-part of a missing tooth. The surgical procedure used to place an implant is actually quite minor and routine, requiring only local anesthesia in most cases. After a healing period, the implant is topped with a lifelike crown custom-made to match your existing natural teeth.
How Implants Work
During a minor surgical procedure, your dental implant is inserted directly into the jawbone in the space vacated by the missing tooth. It will then be left to heal for a period of 3-4 months before the final crown is attached. During this healing period, the implant actually fuses to the bone surrounding it.
Tooth Replacement Options Using Dental Implants
Implants are the perfect solution to replace missing teeth and restore the appearance and function of the smile. They can be used in a variety of ways, including:
- Replace One Tooth — For our patients who are missing a single tooth, an implant is inserted into the bone to replace the root part of that tooth, and a crown is placed on top to simulate the actual tooth. This treatment choice has the highest success rate, making it the best long-term investment for replacing a single missing tooth. While the initial cost may be slightly higher than other options, over time it is the most cost-effective solution. An implant looks and feels just like the natural tooth, and will never decay or need a root canal treatment.
- Replace Multiple Teeth — For patients throughout Orlando, Oviedo and Winter Springs who are missing several teeth, implants provide an ideal replacement. However, you won’t need one implant for every missing tooth. Instead, implant teeth can act as supports for fixed bridgework. For example, if you are missing three teeth in a row, we can place two implants, one on either side of the gap, and a crown in between that has no implant underneath. This allows us to avoid using the remaining natural teeth as bridge supports, which could weaken them and make them more susceptible to decay.
- Replace All Teeth Permanently — Implants can also support an entire arch of upper or lower replacement teeth that are fixed into the mouth and are never removed. Sometimes, the teeth can be supported by as few as 4 implants. This is comparable to the structure of a table, which only needs 4 legs to hold it up. In cases where jawbone density and volume have deteriorated, 5 or 6 implants might be needed to support a row of 10 to 12 teeth. Dental implant replacement teeth protect the jawbone, won’t slip, and should last a lifetime.
- Support Removable Dentures — For our patients with removable dentures, dental implants can make their dentures healthier, more effective, and more comfortable to wear. Traditional dentures rest on the gums and put pressure on the underlying bone, which accelerates bone loss, causing the jaw to shrink and the dentures to slip, particularly on the bottom. Today, dentists can attach a removable denture onto a set of implants, transferring that pressure into the bone structure rather than the bone surface. This prevents the dentures from slipping while the patient eats and speaks, and preserves the bone directly beneath them.
Implant Care and Maintenance
There are only two ways an implant can lose attachment to the bone and fail once it has successfully fused: poor oral hygiene or excessive biting forces. Poor oral hygiene, including a lack of regular cleanings, can lead to a destructive bacterial infection called peri-implantitis. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a dental hygiene routine and keep up with regular visits to your dentist. Flossing and brushing on a daily basis, along with regular professional cleanings, will prevent bacteria from accumulating and compromising your implant treatment.
Additionally, excessive biting forces can cause implants to fail. A habit of clenching or grinding your teeth, or an insufficient number of implants to handle the forces generated by your bite, can damage or dislodge your implants. Your dentist should place the correct number of implants in your smile to prevent this, however, if you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, a nightguard will be recommended to protect your treatment.