Are You Seeking Dental Implants in Southwest Tucson?
Realistic, safe, and functional dental implants used to be hard to come by and exceedingly expensive. Many people stuck to bridges or partials rather than exploring dental implants as an option. While dental implants still remain pricier than other options, they’ve come a long way from where they used to be. Modern dental implants are designed to last a lifetime, and they appear virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth.
If you have missing teeth you’d like to replace or if you’re researching your options following an impending dental extraction, dental implants may be the solution you’re looking for. As long as you’re a good candidate for the procedure, a dental implant will be the perfect permanent fix for a gap in your smile.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a full and realistic artificial tooth that is permanently attached to a screw placed into the jawbone. It differs from a crown in that it isn’t made to fit a piece of an existing tooth, and it differs from a bridge in that it doesn’t require support from another tooth to stay in place. It’s also difficult to remove.
Dental implants are designed to be similar in shape and color to the teeth surrounding them. They’ll blend right in. To the naked eye, no one would know that one or two teeth weren’t real. There are no visible signs of their installation.
In some cases, multiple teeth can be attached to fewer screws. This is called a permanent bridge. It’s a type of dental implant that replaces a series of three or more consecutive missing teeth. This typically only requires two screws to support either end of the bridge, and the crowns are made as a solid piece rather than three separate pieces.
Why Are Dental Implants Better than Bridges or Partial Dentures?
Permanent dental bridges require that the surrounding teeth be filed down or shaped in order to fit the bridge. A dental implant is held by the jawbone, not by the surrounding teeth. The surrounding teeth can be left completely intact and entirely unharmed as long as they and their surrounding gum tissue remain healthy.
Partial dentures can be used to restore multiple lost teeth, but they’re a little more high maintenance. Dentures require special cleaning. They need to be removed at night. They aren’t a permanent solution to the problem. Many people fear that partial dentures will slip or come lose while they chew or talk. They don’t want people around them to know that they have a partial denture, and they’re afraid of “outing” themselves at brunch.
With a dental implant, you don’t have to think about it. You go to sleep with your teeth in your mouth and you wake up with your teeth in your mouth. They’re a one and done solution that doesn’t necessarily change your hygiene or personal care routine. Dental implants do need to be cared for just as much as your regular teeth, but they don’t require the special work that dentures require.
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Would a Bridge or Partial Denture Be Better For Me?
Permanent bridges have great longevity. Although they’re more traumatic to the surrounding healthy teeth, the results look beautiful. They also tend to cost less than dental implants and can be completed in a much shorter period of time with a vastly simpler procedure. This is why many people still choose bridges over dental implants.
Partial dentures don’t often feel as natural as dental implants, but they’re also a more cost effective option. You can replace six teeth with a single partial denture. You’ll need multiple dental implants to achieve the same result.
There’s also the option of getting fixed dentures or dental implant bridges. These procedures secure multiple teeth or dentures to the jawbone on a few titanium screws. They’re the best of both worlds. You can explore this option further with your dentist once he or she determines whether or not you’d make a good candidate for the procedure.
What Are Dental Implants Made Of?
Dental implants are made of titanium alloy screws and abutments. This is the same kind of metal used to surgically replace knees and hips. Titanium alloy is used not only for its strength, but because it is a completely safe and hypoallergenic metal. There are no risks to using titanium alloy in the body, and there are almost no reports of adverse reactions to the metal.
The tooth portion of the dental implant, called the crown, is made of ceramic or composite resin. This crown is strong and durable, designed to last for decades. It will continue to look perfect even as your natural teeth age. That’s why it’s important to take excellent care of your teeth even after you get dental implants. You want everything to stay healthy and remain the same hue.
Can Everyone Get Dental Implants?
Not everyone is a good candidate for dental implants. In order for a dental implant to be successful, you must have healthy bone and gum tissue. If you have any infections or periodontal disease, these must first be resolved before a dental implant can be installed. If the infection or gum disease has already caused extensive damage, you may need additional procedures before you can become a candidate for dental implants.
The best way to know whether or not you’re a candidate for dental implants is to be evaluated by a dentist. If you aren’t a good candidate as you currently are, your dentist can create a treatment plan to help you become a good candidate. You can also be advised of alternative options. You might want to weigh some of the pros and cons if your dentist believes that you’ll benefit from an alternative procedure more than you’d benefit from dental implants.
How Are Dental Implants Installed?
Dental implants aren’t typically installed in a single day. It’s an ongoing process that involves time for healing in between each stage. You won’t have your new teeth as quickly as you would if you opted for partial dentures or a bridge. Patients who select dental implants over alternative methods often find the wait and recovery perfect. The end result is something that looks and feels the most like natural teeth, and perfection always takes time.
Preparing for Dental Implants
Gum disease must be treated and any infections present have to be completely cleared before your dental implant procedure can move forward. If you’re using a dental implant to replace a severely damaged or decayed tooth, that tooth must first be removed and the gums need time to heal. The health of your jawbone will also be evaluated. Some patients may require bone grafts to support the titanium screws that hold dental implants.
Placing the Screws in the Jaw
When the mouth is healthy and the gums are ready, titanium screws are placed directly down into the jawbone. The bone heals around these screws, permanently holding them in place. The top of the screw will remain visible above the gums. Then, the gums need to be allowed to heal. This process can take a few weeks.
Installing the Abutment and Placing the Tooth
When the jaw and gums have healed, the tops of the screws will be fitted with a piece called an abutment. Depending on the shape and size of your crowns, the abutment can either be shaped a little like a parking cone or a little like a lampshade. This tiny piece is responsible for supporting the new tooth. The crown is them permanently installed on top of this abutment piece.
What if I Need Bone Grafts?
Your jaw has a hard job. You can’t chew or talk without it. It needs to be strong, and the bone needs to be thick. If it isn’t, you can’t place a dental implant in your jaw. Those screws need something solid and substantial to hold onto. Placing them into a soft or thin jawbone will only cause pain and problems. The implants will come lose or shift, creating further damaged to an already traumatized bone.
If your jawbone isn’t strong and healthy, you’ll need to have bone removed from another part of your body and grafted on top of your jaw bone. Those two bones will heal together, forming one larger and stronger bone. You may require this procedure before you’re eligible for dental implants.
If the need for correction of the jawbone is minimal, you might be able to undergo bone grafting and screw placement in the same day. If the jawbone is significantly damaged, the grafts may need to heal before implants can be placed.
If you require an extensive bone grafting procedure, it might be a better idea to go with a partial denture or a bridge. Your healing time will be quicker, your procedure will be easier, and you can avoid a lot of unnecessary trauma. It might be worth having a conversation with your dentist about your other options. If you’re still set on dental implants, expect a lengthier and more complicated procedure.
What is The Recovery Like?
If you’ve ever had a dental extraction, you’ll find that dental implant surgery produces similar side effects. Many people experience widespread swelling and discomfort throughout their mouth. Bleeding is completely normal. Your dentist will provide you with a prescription for pain medication and antibiotics to prevent infection if necessary. You’ll go home with a list of thorough aftercare instructions. Be sure to follow them to the letter.
Eating hard foods or foods that require a lot of chewing, chewing gum, using tobacco or drinking through straws will be painful and may cause complications to your recovery. Avoid all of the above. You should also follow your dentist’s instructions for keeping your mouth clean after the procedure. Great dental hygiene can help to prevent infection.
Recovery from procedures involving bone grafts is typically more extensive. Your dentist will speak to you about the risks associated with bone grafting procedures and tell you what you can do to recover as smoothly as possible.
You’ll need to see your dentist for regular follow ups after the procedure to make sure you’re recovering as planned, whether not you’ve received a bone graft.
If you have an increase of pain and bleeding or a fever, call your dentist immediately. These may be signs of recovery complications and they must be promptly addressed. If complications appear outside of business hours, it’s best to visit the emergency room or a walk-in clinic. Don’t wait all weekend if you’re experiencing pain that won’t respond to your prescription, excessive bleeding, or an elevated body temperature.
Starting Your Journey to a Brighter Smile
If you’re interested in dental implants in Southwest Tucson, call First Dental Center at 520-624-8535. We’re available from 8 AM to 5 PM Monday through Thursday to address all of your dental needs. Our bilingual staff is prepared to help patients in Spanish or English. Alternatively, you can submit an inquiry or request an appointment with our simple contact form. A member of our staff will get back to you promptly to confirm your appointment.
You can also stop by and visit us at our conveniently located office. We’re at 1710 W Valencia Rd., suite 190. We’re one exit south of the Spectrum Shopping Center and just east of Mission Road. Our location is easy to access from anywhere in Southwest Tucson.