Having a full, beautiful smile can have a noticeable effect on a person’s self-esteem while missing teeth can be frustrating and keep them from living life to the fullest. The longer gaps in the smile remain, the more pressure the remaining teeth receive from normal wear and tear. This can sometimes allow remaining teeth to shift out of place. When multiple teeth are missing, there is also a greater risk of bone loss from lack of stimulation by a tooth root.
Dental implants help preserve the function and structure of the mouth while acting as natural teeth. They are custom designed to blend seamlessly with adjacent teeth and provide a strong foundation for biting and chewing even the toughest foods. Since they are securely anchored to the jaw, they will not slip out of place. From his practice in Greenville, SC, Dr. Cherry works with patients to create personalized treatment plans that they can feel confident in as they restore their smiles.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are small screws or posts that replace the root of a missing tooth. They are typically made of titanium, which is a highly durable, biocompatible material that naturally fuses with existing bone. The implant is precisely inserted into the jaw, where new bone molds around it to form a strong foundation for replacement teeth. Once the implant is secured, a connector called an abutment is placed on top and sticks out through the gum. This is what the dentist will attach the new crown to in order to complete the restoration process.
Benefits of Dental Implants
While every patient is different, the benefits that dental implants provide to the Greenville community often make them a more desirable choice than other tooth replacement options.
- Dental implants are designed to be a long-lasting option, typically outperforming bridges and dentures, which must be replaced every few years.
- Dental implants do not negatively affect the integrity or health of adjacent teeth because they do not rely on them for support.
- Dental implants act as a replacement tooth root that stimulates the jaw and prevents bone loss.
- Dental implants are custom-made to fit precisely between existing teeth and will not slip out of place or leave gaps.
- Dental implants are cared for just like natural teeth with regular brushing and flossing.
- Dental implants function like natural teeth allowing patients to eat all types of foods with minimal limitations.
- Dental implants are customized to match the size, shape, and color of adjacent teeth, so they blend seamlessly with each patient’s smile.
- Dental implants can be more cost-effective in the long run because they do not require refitting or replacement every few years.
- Dental implants can be used to restore a single tooth, multiple teeth, or an entire arch, enabling patients to customize their treatment and results.
Why are Dental Implants the Preferred Method of Tooth Replacement?
Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?
Advances in technology and treatment have made dental implants a viable option for more patients than in years past. While every patient’s situation is slightly different, there are some common factors that oral surgeons look for when discussing dental implants as a treatment for missing teeth.
- Overall good health. Patients should be in generally good health, and any underlying conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure should be well managed. Medical history should be reviewed so that appropriate precautions can be taken for a safe and effective procedure.
- Missing teeth. Dental implants can replace current missing teeth or be used in conjunction with tooth extraction to prevent prolonged gaps.
- Dissatisfaction with other tooth replacement options. Patients who are tired of fussing with dentures or other removable prosthetics and want a more permanent solution may be good candidates for dental implants.
- Nonsmoker or willing to quit. Smoking can increase the risk of implant failure and interfere with the healing process. Patients should refrain from smoking a few weeks before surgery and for several months after to allow the jawbone to remodel around the dental implants.
People who want to know if they are good candidates for dental implants should schedule a consultation to discuss their specific needs, goals, and concerns.
Getting Started with Dental Implants
Dr. Cherry takes the time to consult with each patient in his Greenville practice to ensure they are fully involved and informed during the treatment planning process. A thorough examination is performed, and x-rays or images may be taken to create a clear visual of the teeth, gums, and jaws. This allows for precise planning on how, where, and how many dental implants will be placed.
Sedation options will also be discussed with patients to enhance their comfort during the procedure. Dr. Cherry offers several types of anesthesia that can be safely administered and monitored in the office. In determining the most comfortable solution for each patient’s procedure, he will review each patient’s medical history and discuss their preferences.
How are Dental Implants Placed and Restored?
Dr. Cherry will work closely with patients to develop a personalized treatment plan aligned with their needs and goals. If any procedures are necessary to prepare for dental implants, such as tooth extraction or bone grafting, they will occur first. In some cases, dental implants can be placed at the same time, while in others, there is a waiting period of several months while the bone graft or extraction site heals.
Before dental implants are placed, the area will be numbed with a local anesthetic, and any sedation will be administered to create a relaxing experience.
- Implant Placement: Each implant is strategically placed to optimize results and create a precise fit. An incision is made in the gum, and then a small hole is drilled into the bone. The dental implant is inserted and heals undisturbed for several months as it fuses with the jaw to form a strong foundation. A temporary crown may be placed for aesthetic purposes.
- Abutment Attachment: Once the dental implant has fused with the bone, Dr. Cherry will screw a small post into the top called a healing abutment, which will stick out above the gum line. The permanent abutment and crown will later be placed by the patient’s general dentist. This is typically done in collaboration with the patient’s dentist so that replacement teeth can be designed to fit the selected abutment.
- Replacement Teeth: After the abutment is attached, the dentist will take impressions of the teeth to design the permanent replacement teeth for a seamless fit. A dental technician will fabricate the new teeth according to the dentist’s plan and carefully match the appropriate shape and color. Once ready, the new crown, bridge, or denture will be attached to the abutment to create a full, beautiful, and functional smile.
Post-Op and Recovery Timeline
Surgery generally takes less than an hour for a single implant and two to three hours for multiple implants, but this can vary from one patient to the next. Post-operative instructions will be provided prior to surgery and reviewed again after surgery in case there are any questions or concerns. Some swelling, bruising, and bleeding are normal after dental implant surgery and should resolve within a few days. An ice pack can be applied to the cheek to help minimize any swelling, and pain relievers can be taken to reduce discomfort.
The gums will take several days to heal, while the fusion of the dental implant with the bone will take several weeks. Patients should follow a soft food diet and chew away from the surgical site to prevent any disruption to the healing process. Beverages should be sipped from a cup rather than using a straw.
Many patients find that they feel well enough to return to work after a few days, though strenuous activity should be avoided. Several follow-up appointments may be scheduled to ensure the mouth is healing properly and determine when the dental implant is ready for the abutment and permanent crown or other prosthetic to be placed. Patients should contact Cherry Orchard Oral & Implant Surgery if they have any concerns during the recovery process.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Risks Associated with Dental Implant Surgery?
Every surgery comes with some level of risk, but dental implants tend to be a safe and effective procedure. Antibiotics are often prescribed to reduce the chance of post-operative infection, and pain medication can minimize any discomfort once the anesthetic has worn off.
Every patient is different, so the specific risks will vary based on their individual health and oral care needs. Dr. Cherry takes the time to develop treatment plans in detail with each patient so they can make a fully informed decision and know what to expect. The website provides a general overview of the dental implant process, but patients can learn more about their options by scheduling a consultation.
What Can I Use for Teeth While the Implants Heal?
After the dental implants are placed, a temporary partial denture may be attached to the adjacent teeth to fill in any gaps while the implant site heals and permanent replacement teeth are made. This gives patients a full smile during the recovery process so they can feel more confident. If all teeth are missing, a patient’s existing dentures may be adjusted to fit with the implants, or a temporary set of teeth may be inserted.
Generally, patients should avoid biting or chewing directly on the implant site until it has fully healed. In some cases, a replacement tooth can be placed and used almost immediately after surgery with some limitations. Dr. Cherry will discuss each patient’s options and what to expect based on their individual treatment plan.
How Long Will the Implants Last?
Dental implants are designed to be a long-lasting solution to missing teeth when proper care and maintenance are followed. This includes regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings, as well as annual checkups. Clinical studies evaluating patients over a span of 50 years or more have demonstrated a success rate of between 95% and 98%. In comparison, tooth-supported bridges have an average lifespan of about 10 years.
There is always a small chance that the implant will not fully fuse with the jaw, but overall, dental implants have very safe and predictable outcomes. If failure or problems should occur, the implant can typically be replaced with a new one. Studies have shown that replacement implants often have a high success rate.
Dr. Cherry is happy to review the various tooth replacement options and how they compare in terms of lifespan, risks, benefits, and follow-up care. It is important that patients are able to make a fully informed decision that fits with their best interests.
Request a Consultation with Dr. Cherry
Dental implants have the ability to transform a patient’s quality of life when it comes to restoring missing teeth. Dr. Cherry’s entire team strives to make the process as relaxing and comfortable as possible by collaborating with patients on the details of their treatment plan, including the use of anesthesia. Schedule a consultation at (864) 603-2464 to learn more about dental implants and how they may benefit your oral health.