Dental Implants

There is no tooth-replacement option that will give you a longer-lasting result than a dental implant.  Should you receive this treatment, you can expect to enjoy functional, restorative, and aesthetic improvements to your smile.  They also help preserve tooth-supporting bone that naturally deteriorates when a tooth is lost. Loss of bone is one of the major hidden consequences of losing teeth.

A dental implant most often takes the form of a small, screw-shaped titanium post that replaces the root-part of a missing tooth. After a healing period, the implant is topped with a lifelike crown custom-made to match your existing natural teeth. Implants have a documented success rate of over 95%, which is significantly higher than any other tooth-replacement option.

Dental Implant Steps and Procedure

Dental implants are completed in a number of steps.  First, if a tooth is still present it will be extracted and replaced with bone graft material.  The site will be left to heal for a period of months.  Once the site has healed, a dental Cone Beam CT will be taken, produces a 3-D x-ray to virtually place the implant and ensure there is enough bone to support it.  The surgical procedure used to place an implant is actually quite minor and routine, requiring only local anesthesia in most cases.  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 months before the final crown is attached. During this healing period, the implant actually fuses to the bone surrounding it.  The overall time period to complete the steps of receiving your dental implant can range from 4-9 months.

Tooth Replacement Options

Implants can replace missing teeth in a variety of ways. They can be used to replace one tooth, replace multiple teeth, replace all teeth permanently, or support removable dentures.  We encourage you to set up a consultation to discuss these options and decide what treatment plan will be best for you.

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 and/or a lack of regular cleanings can lead to a destructive bacterial infection called peri-implantitis. Flossing and brushing your teeth on a daily basis, along with regular professional cleanings, can prevent this.

Excessive biting forces can come from either a habit of clenching or grinding your teeth, or an insufficient number of implants to handle the forces generated by your bite. You should receive the correct number of implants so this does not happen. And if you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, a night guard will be recommended to protect your implants. After all, implants are a long-term investment in your smile, your health and your well-being, so it’s best to protect your investment.

Post-Operative Instructions Following Dental Implant Placement

Not all the instructions may apply as the after-effects of implant surgery can differ. Common sense will often dictate what you should do. However, when in doubt, follow these guidelines or call our office.

For the remainder of the day:

  • Keep fingers and tongue away from the implant site.
  • Do not use a drinking straw. Drink straight from the cup.
  • Do not spit. Use a tissue to wipe your mouth as needed or swallow your saliva.
  • Do not smoke.

Bleeding – A small amount of bleeding is expected following surgery. Leave gauze in for 30 minutes and keep steady pressure over the surgical site following the procedure. Replace the gauze for another 30 minutes if fresh blood is present – making sure that the gauze is wet before pulling it out.  If bleeding continues after this time, bite on a tea bag for 30 minutes. If you are still bleeding after this contact our office.

Sutures – If sutures were placed, they will dissolve in about 7 days, unless otherwise stated.

Healing Abutment – Depending on the location of the implant, the healing abutment (metal cap) may be buried below the gum tissue or it may protrude through the gum tissue and be visible. If it is visible, refrain from using this cap for any function in your mouth.

Swelling – You may or may not experience swelling. Any swelling can be minimized by applying a cold pack (ice in plastic bag with cloth wrap) on the outside of the face near the surgery site.  Immediately following the procedure, it’s advisable to apply the cold pack for 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off for 2 to 4 hours.

Pain/Medications – Pain medication usually is not necessary. Discomfort can typically be alleviated by taking aspirin, Tylenol, or Ibuprofen. If the pain is suspected to be more than mild, a prescription will be given to you.  If given an antibiotic, please take the medication faithfully until all the tablets are gone.

Diet – The day of your surgery, start with nourishing liquids and soft/colder foods (do not use a straw). Avoid extremely hot foods, foods with sharp edges (chips, pretzels, etc.), and do not chew immediately over the surgery area.  Gradually return to your normal diet, however, avoid the following for 2 weeks after surgery: spicy foods, acidic juices, chips, popcorn, carbonated drinks.

Activity – Do not overexert yourself in the next 24-48 hours.  If you engage in vigorous activity, throbbing or bleeding may occur. After 48 hours you may resume activity as tolerated.

Oral Hygiene – Good oral hygiene is essential to good healing.  It is recommended that you begin rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater rinses starting the day after your procedure (1 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water). You may do this 3-5 times a day over the next few days. Brush your teeth and gums as normal except be gentle where the implant was placed.  If prescribed by your doctor, a chlorhexidine rinse may be used twice daily instead of saltwater.

Post-Op Visits – It is important to return for your post-op visit, generally scheduled 1–2 weeks after treatment. Contact our office if you have questions or problems before that time.