Dental Implants Can Benefit You
At Desert Family Dental, we treat a lot of patients who have lost or damaged teeth due to decay, gum disease, or facial trauma.
Many of these patients have their natural teeth replaced with dental crowns, bridges, or dentures.
Unfortunately, while we always strive to provide the most realistic restorations possible, nothing is as strong and durable as natural teeth. Dental implants offer the closest alternative to biological teeth. The titanium posts will replace tooth roots, providing a stable base for a custom-made restoration.
When patients are unhappy with their current restorations, or when they first experience tooth loss, Dr. Scott Lee will typically discuss the benefits of dental implants. This treatment offers a more secure alternative to older bridges and dentures. After determining candidacy for implants, he will create a unique surgical plan to ensure stunning results and a swift recovery.
To learn more about dental implants, and how they can benefit you, call our Mesa, AZ, dental office at (480) 485-7747 and schedule your consultation with Dr. Lee.
When Should I Choose a Dental Bridge?
If you have lost a tooth, or several teeth in a row, because of tooth decay, gum disease, or facial trauma, you will have an open gap left between the remaining teeth on either side. Over time, the teeth around this gap can rotate or shift into the empty space left by the missing teeth.
This shifting can result in an imbalanced bite, which in turn can lead to TMJ disorder or gum disease. By placing a dental bridge before the teeth have a chance to rotate, Dr. Lee can prevent these problems and restore your smile to its original beauty.
Losing teeth can also lead to the degradation of your jawbone. Your body can sense when you have lost a tooth, because the bone in that area of the jaw no longer has any stimulation. The body begins to divert calcium and other nutrients it used to send to the tooth to other parts of the body.
The lack of nutrients causes the bone of your jaw to start shrinking, which can eventually cause your face to have a sunken appearance. In this case, Dr. Lee can place a bridge supported by dental implants to help stimulate that bone, keeping your face looking healthy.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are tiny posts made of titanium that resemble screws. Dr. Lee will surgically place them in the jawbone to replace the roots of missing teeth. The posts will stimulate the bone, preventing the diversion of nutrients away from the jaw. The biocompatible implants will then fuse together with the bone as they heal in a process known as osseointegration. In this way, the implant posts will promote jawbone growth and provide a sturdy, stable anchor for restorations.
Dr. Lee is committed to continuing education and has completed post-graduate training in implant dentistry. With his expertise, his surgery involves little stress or discomfort. Best of all, patients enjoy restored dental function, improved oral health, and beautiful smiles.
Candidates for Implants
Dental implants may be appropriate for patients who are missing one tooth or even their entire dental arch. Individuals may qualify for these restorations if they recently lost their teeth or had a necessary extraction. Alternatively, they may also benefit from implants if they have been wearing traditional restorations for some time.
Nonetheless, to qualify for implants, patients must have a healthy jaw. Because tooth loss will result in jawbone recession, Dr. Lee will carefully analyze the jaw with x-rays and other images. Though bone loss may limit eligibility, this experienced surgeon can often perform a bone graft to strengthen the jaw and improve candidacy for treatment.
Along with a healthy jaw, patients should also have generally good physical and oral health. Gum disease may affect implant candidacy, since tissue recession can lead to implant failure. Additionally, Dr. Lee may not advise surgery if patients suffer from diabetes, an autoimmune disease, or a bleeding condition.
Advanced Implant Surgery
To place dental implants, Dr. Lee will perform a careful, customized surgery. He will begin by evaluating the x-rays he took at the initial consultation. With these images, he can determine the most suitable positions for implant posts. By placing them in the strongest areas of the jaw, or by angling the implants slightly, he may be able to eliminate the need for bone grafting.
Next, Dr. Lee will numb the gums and jawbone. He can also provide additional, deeper sedation. With his advanced training in sedation dentistry, he can help patients choose the most appropriate medications. Most importantly, he will keep them safe and comfortable throughout their procedures. Therefore, they should feel very little during their surgeries. Once the sedation leaves their systems, they may not remember their procedures at all!
Next, Dr. Lee will make small incisions in the gums, just over the areas where he will place the implants. He will then insert the posts into tiny pilot holes in the bone. He will carefully place the posts so that they have little impact on the healthy portions of bone tissue. Thanks to this precision, the surgery will also involve minimal discomfort. Once all the posts are in place, Dr. Lee will use dissolvable sutures to close up the incisions.
Recovery from Implant Surgery
After implant surgery, recovery will last about four to six months. We will provide a temporary bridge or denture during this time, so patients should enjoy relatively normal oral function. For the first few days, they will likely experience some sensitivity and inflammation. Mild, non-prescription pain medications can control this discomfort. A soft diet can also help, and patients should avoid spicy foods until the gums start to heal. Finally, patients should exercise care when brushing their teeth, particularly around the implant sites.
Even after the initial discomfort subsides, Dr. Lee cannot place the final restoration until the jawbone has completely recovered.
Placing the Restorations
When the implants have fused with the overall jaw structure, Dr. Lee will attach the restoration. At this second appointment, he will carefully uncover the tops of the implant posts before connecting the custom-made prosthetic with small abutment pieces.
At Desert Family Dental, both our traditional and implant-supported restorations are made from the latest materials. Our lab will consider the shape and color of a patient’s teeth during the design process. The ceramists and Dr. Lee will also factor in the overall facial proportions and the shape of the lips. Taking this comprehensive approach, we can provide a prosthetic that lifts and rejuvenates the entire face.
Strong, Stable Restorations
Dental implants support restorations that many consider the next best alternative to natural teeth. They retain the feel, look, and function of the patient’s natural smile.
Implant-supported restorations are stable and strong, allowing patients to eat the foods they love without the worry of damage or embarrassing slips.
Studies show that implant-supported restorations last longer than conventional options. For instance, a traditional dental bridge has a projected life of seven to ten years with proper care.
Implant-supported dental bridges, while needing adjustments periodically, should last the patient’s lifetime with appropriate dental hygiene.
Retain Correct Facial Shape
When a patient loses a tooth, the body senses the loss of stimulation in the jaw and diverts calcium and other necessary nutrients to different parts of the body. Over time, this leads to a deterioration of the jaw and a hollowing of the cheeks.
Dental implants replace the roots of missing teeth, stimulating the patient’s jawbone. This stimulation keeps the body sending necessary nutrients to the jaw, preventing deterioration and the appearance of a sunken face.
Maintain Healthy Tooth Structure
When a patient has a dental bridge placed, he has the option of choosing between a traditional bridge and an implant-supported bridge. To place a traditional bridge, the dentist places the crowns over healthy teeth on either side of the gap created by the missing tooth or teeth. This process requires the removal of dental enamel on each tooth receiving a crown.
An implant-supported dental bridge requires no crowns, eliminating the need to alter the structure of surrounding teeth. This allows patients to retain their natural teeth for a much longer period, if not the rest of their lives.
More Secure Dentures
Many of our patients wear traditional dentures, and they tell us that the appliances can make it difficult to speak and eat. These patients worry about their dentures slipping or wobbling when they talk or eat. Occasionally can even have issues with them falling out of their mouths.
Many complain of a clicking noise when they talk. They have to come in occasionally to have their appliances re-lined, because the slow degradation of the jawbone causes the dentures to lose their snug fit against the gums.
Implant-supported dentures securely snap onto implants that have fused with the jawbone. In this way, the posts provide a sturdy, stable hold that keeps the dentures from wobbling, clicking, or falling out. The fit of the denture remains secure because the jaw experiences no deterioration.
Dental implants support several types of restorations, from single crowns to full sets of dentures. Depending upon the number of teeth a patient needs replaced, he or she may receive one of the following:
- Dental Crown – For a single dental crown, a patient receives one implant.
- Dental Bridge – The doctor permanently attaches an implant-supported bridge to one or more dental implants, providing a secure restoration and eliminating the need to remove structure from healthy teeth.
- Partial or Complete Dentures – The most common type of implant-supported dentures, these removable prosthetics snap on and off of dental implants with ease.
- All-on-4® Dentures – All-on-4® dentures offer a solution to patients who may not qualify for traditional implant-supported dentures because of low bone density. The doctor places four implants in the front of the jaw, where the bone is naturally stronger. Rather than snapping the dentures onto the implants, Dr. Lee permanently attaches them. Only a dentist can remove these dentures once they are in place. Patients who wear these dentures report that they most closely resemble their full set of natural teeth.