When a tooth is extracted or falls out, you are missing not just the crown that can be seen above the gum line, but also the tooth root, which is hidden below the gum line within the jaw bone. The root plays an important role in holding the tooth in place but also in keeping the jawbone from deteriorating. Dental implants replace the missing tooth root, creating a stable foundation for replacement teeth. At Tri-Cities Oral & Facial Surgery, our team specializes in dental implant placement and is ready to help you maintain your smile for years to come.
Why Are Dental Implants the Preferred Method of Tooth Replacement?
Many Tri-Cities patients choose dental implants versus other tooth replacement options due to the vast benefits they provide:
- Dental implants stimulate bone growth and protect against bone resorption.
- They do not rely on support from adjacent teeth like bridges and partial dentures that hook around or fit over other teeth and can cause damage to them.
- Advances in implant technology has allowed for decades of healthy implants and often last for the rest of your life without needing to be replaced, which can make them a more affordable option in the long run.
- Research has shown that dental implants have a higher long-term success rate than other tooth-replacement treatments.
Benefits of Dental Implants
If you are looking for a long-term solution for missing teeth, dental implants have many advantages over other options:
- Designed to Last: Dental implants are typically made of titanium, which is an incredibly strong, durable material that can withstand the force of biting and chewing even the toughest foods. They are also biocompatible, meaning they naturally fuse with the existing bone and have a low risk of rejection. Studies have shown that dental implants have a 94% or greater success rate in most cases.
- Preserves Bone and Facial Structure: A common issue with missing teeth is bone loss or resorption. Without a tooth root to stimulate the jaw, the bone begins to deteriorate which limits your future restorative options as well as change your facial structure. Dental implants serve as an alternative tooth root that can preserve bone and help your smile keep its shape.
- A Healthier Smile: In order to attach bridges or partial dentures, the teeth around them must be cut or ground down, which can affect the overall health and stability of the tooth. Dental implants function independently and fit snugly between adjacent teeth without causing damage.
- Natural Appearance: Because dental implants help prevent bone loss, they can preserve the natural shape of your jaw bone, gums, and face. In addition, they are designed to blend seamlessly with surrounding teeth and function just like natural teeth, so no one will be able to tell the difference, and you can feel more confident in your smile.
A Walkthrough of Our Process
The process begins with a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Smiley so that he can learn more about your goals for restoring missing teeth and any concerns you may have. He will conduct a thorough examination of your teeth and gums, take x-rays or digital images, and review your medical and dental history to determine if you are a good candidate for dental implants.
Dr. Smiley will create an individualized treatment plan based on your needs and determine the optimal number of implants and whether any additional procedures such as extractions or bone grafting are necessary. He will walk you through the entire process so you can feel more confident in your decision and the care you are receiving. He will also discuss your options for anesthesia to make the procedure as relaxing and pain-free as possible. Your comfort is a top priority.
If you have any questions during this time, do not hesitate to ask. We want to ensure you have all of the information you need and know what to expect before, during, and after the procedure. Once a treatment plan has been created, your surgery will be scheduled.
How Are Dental Implants Placed and Restored?
On the day of surgery, anesthesia will be administered to numb the area and achieve the desired level of sedation. Once you are comfortable, any extractions or bone grafting will be performed to prepare the site for the dental implant. Often these procedures can be done in conjunction with one another, but in some cases, you may need to wait a period of time for the site to heal before the implant can be placed.
- Implant Placement: A high-tech navigation system is paired with digital scans to create a 3D model of your teeth and gums and enable Dr. Smiley to accurately place the dental implant in the precise location and angle that it needs to be for optimal results. A small hole is drilled, and the implant is inserted into the bone. A small healing cap or abutment is placed over the top of the implant. This cap may be buried under the gum tissue but is most often sticking out of the gums until your final crown (replacement tooth) can be made.
- Abutment Attachment: If a healing cap was placed during your implant surgery, this will be replaced with a healing abutment after the bone and implant have fused together. This fusion is known as osseointegration. This healing abutment will help your gum tissue heal in a natural way to prepare it for the final crown.
- Replacement Teeth: Once the dental implants and abutments are in place, your dentist will take impressions in order to design and customize your replacement teeth. In addition to tailoring the size and shape to match your natural teeth, they will also choose a precise color that blends in as well. These plans will be used by a dental technician to fabricate your new teeth. Once they are ready, your dentist will attach them to the abutments, and your treatment will be complete.
Recovery and Post-Op
It is normal to experience some swelling and soreness after surgery. You can apply an ice pack to your cheek and take an over-the-counter pain reliever to help minimize any discomfort. You may receive prescription pain medication and/or antibiotics. To help prevent infection, gently swish a warm salt water solution around your mouth after the first day. You should also continue brushing your other teeth, being careful to avoid traumatizing the surgical site.
Start by eating very soft foods that require little to no chewing the first few days. Then, slowly progress to more solid foods as tolerable, once again avoiding the implant site. You will receive detailed post-op instructions, but if you have any questions or concerns, reach out to Tri-Cities Oral & Facial Surgery for guidance.
You’re in Good Hands with Dr. Smiley
As an oral surgeon with a medical degree as well, Dr. Smiley is well-versed in performing both simple and complex dental implant procedures and safely administering anesthesia. Find out if you are a good candidate for dental implants by calling Tri-Cities Oral & Facial Surgery at (509) 802-6026 to schedule a consultation.