Tooth loss can have a negative impact on your smile, bite, and ability to chew/eat certain foods. You can lose a tooth as a result of an accident or from deep tooth decay. Tooth loss commonly makes smiling, speaking, eating and drinking certain things difficult. The best permanent treatment for tooth loss is to get dental implants. The procedure can take some time to complete, however, it is a great way to restore your smile and your confidence. And, in the end, you have a fully functional, natural-looking tooth that is permanently attached to your gums.
First steps in the procedure
If you have decided to get implants, your dentist will first either take panoramic x-rays or a 3D CT scan. This will help your dentist get a good look at your bones and the condition of your gums to be sure that you are a good candidate for the procedure. Next, he or she will take an impression of your mouth. This is so that your dental team can get a perfect replica of your teeth and gums so that they have a good idea of what they are working with and how to create the crown to perfectly fit your bite.
How is the implant placed?
The dentist will drill a hole into the jawbone where the tooth is missing. This is where the implant will be placed. Your mouth will be numb when this is done and it will feel similar to what it feels like when you have a cavity filled. When the hole is drilled, the metal screw implant will be placed inside. If the bone is weak, you may need to have a bone graft before this step is completed to strengthen your gums and jawbone.
The appointment to place the implant will take an hour or two. You should be fine to return to your normal routine after the procedure. However, you are going to need to stick to a soft food diet for about a week.
How long does it take before the crown can be placed?
Your jawbone needs to heal so that the implant will fuse into it. This can take several weeks or even months; it all depends on your body’s healing process. You will have some follow-up visits with your dentist to check on the progress of your healing throughout this time. When the implant is completely stable, your dentist will be able to attach the crown. They won’t be able to do this until they are sure that the implant has completely fused to your bone. When it is stable, the permanent crown will be attached, which looks and feels like a normal tooth. It will also perfectly match the color of your other teeth.
Will the procedure hurt?
While the dental implant is being placed, you won’t feel a thing. When the Novocaine wears off, you will feel that something was done in your mouth. Most people experience some discomfort rather than pain. You can take an over-the-counter pain reliever for a few days to help yourself feel more comfortable as well.
What are the differences between an implant and a partial bridge?
A partial bridge can be made and worn much sooner than implants, however, bridges need to be replaced every 5 to 10 years. Implants are permanent and never need to be replaced. Also, implants look and feel like your natural tooth. If you get partial bridges, you may be able to see the metal wires that anchor the bridge to the surrounding teeth. Implants are undetectable and look just like your natural teeth. Finally, since bridges are not completely and permanently attached to your teeth, there may be some food restrictions. On the other hand, with dental implants you can have confidence biting into anything!
Overall, dental implants are relatively painless and they are the best long-term treatment option for tooth loss in most cases.