What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a small titanium screw that serves as the replacement for the root portion of a missing natural tooth. Dental implants can be placed in either the upper or lower jaws. Due to the biocompatible properties of titanium, a dental implant fuses with the bone and becomes a good anchor for the replacement tooth. Dental implants can be used in solutions for replacing single or multiple missing teeth.
Why dental implants?
There are a number of reasons why you should consider a dental implant:
- Without the root structure of a natural tooth present, the jawbone can shrink. This shrinkage will make your face look older than it is.
- Typically, there are no loose parts to worry about losing. The dental implant is stable and comfortable. Normally, it will serve its owner for life.
Who places the dental implants?
Dr. Vaughan places your dental implant(s). This is the surgical phase of your tooth replacement. Dr. Vaughan is a board-certified oral surgeon. In addition to his surgical specialty training, Dr. Vaughan has completed an elective continuum in Comprehensive Surgical & Restorative Implant Training at USC.
Dr. Vaughan works closely with your dentist to help you achieve the best tooth replacements.
How much do dental implants cost?
The fee for tooth replacement with dental implants depends on several factors, including the number of teeth being replaced and the number of dental implants required to support your replacement teeth. Some additional procedures may be required prior to the placement of your dental implants to ensure the long-term health of your dental implants. To obtain a specific fee estimate, it is necessary to have a doctor examine your mouth. After a thorough diagnostic examination, your dentist and Dr. Vaughan will recommend the treatment that is best for you.
Who is a candidate?
Anyone who is missing one or more teeth due to injury, disease or tooth decay may be a candidate for dental implants. The determining factor is the amount of available bone.
Dr. Vaughan helps to evaluate whether dental implants are a viable solution for you.
Is old age a problem?
Occasionally, older patients express concern that their age may prevent them from enjoying the benefits of dental implants. However, health is more of a determining factor than age. If you’re healthy enough to have a tooth extracted, you’re probably healthy enough to receive dental implants. Certain chronic diseases may contraindicate dental implant treatment. Dr. Vaughan helps determine if you are a candidate for dental implants after a careful evaluation of your dental and health history.
What are the advantages of dental implants over dentures or a dental bridge?
Improved appearanceWhen you lose the entire tooth - crown and root - shrinkage of the jawbone may cause your face to look older. Dental implants can stop this process. A traditional denture or dental bridge doesn't.
Preserve natural teeth: With traditional dental bridges, teeth adjacent to missing teeth are normally ground down to be used as anchors for a dental bridge. Dental implants often eliminate the need to modify healthy teeth.
A lasting solution: In many cases, there are no loose parts to worry about losing. The dental implant is stable and comfortable. Normally, it will serve its owner for life. Dental implant-supported replacement teeth look, feel and function like natural teeth. This means that you can eat and drink whatever you choose. But most importantly, dental implants often improve quality of life in a very concrete way. People who have felt embarrassed and worried because of their tooth problems are often overwhelmed by what new permanent teeth can do for their self-esteem.
Will my new teeth look natural?
When dental implants are used in combination with modern restorative dentistry, their appearance, comfort and function are very likely to exceed your expectations. Often they are hard to tell apart from your natural teeth. Dr. Vaughan will work closely with your dentist to help you get the best result.
Will I be able to chew with the same force and pressure I use with my natural teeth?
Yes. Following a brief adaptation period, chewing capacity is comparable to that of natural teeth.
How much time is required for a dental implant placement?
Today, state-of-the-art guided surgical techniques are convenient alternatives to place dental implants and allow you to have the dental implant placed in a single appointment using minimally invasive surgery. The major advantage of the guided surgical technique is the minimal amount of manipulation of the soft tissue. This can significantly reduce the healing time and the discomfort normally associated with traditional dental implant surgical techniques.
The process can take from three to six months. First, the dentist places the dental implant, which is left for three to six months to heal and integrate with the jawbone. During the healing period, you may be given a temporary prosthesis until the permanent crown is put in place.
The procedure chosen depends on several factors, such as your dental health, the number of teeth involved and which teeth are replaced. These factors will also determine the total number of visits to the dentist throughout the treatment period.
Is the treatment painful?
With any surgery, there can be some discomfort. Placing one implant normally causes less discomfort then placing several. Anesthesia and patient sedation are commonly administered to help reduce any discomfort during the dental implant process. Most patients report that they were much more comfortable following the procedure than they had anticipated. Your doctor will prescribe medications to ease any discomfort that may occur. Ask your dentist to recommend another patient who has already had tooth replacement therapy to assess their personal experience.
How will I feel after the treatment?
It is normal to have some bruising and swelling in the gum and soft tissues. But usually the discomfort is treated with either over-the-counter and/or prescription pain medications.
How will I care for my dental implants?
Your new teeth must be cared for and checked regularly, just like your natural teeth. Brush and floss as recommended by your dentist or dental hygienist. See your dentist in six months, or more frequently if so advised.
ALTERNATIVES TO AN IMPLANT RESTORATION
Tooth-supported fixed bridge
A traditional bridge involves grinding down adjacent teeth to support the bridge. It is a stable solution with good esthetics and function that is fairly easy to install. However, this alternative has two main disadvantages: continuous bone resorbtion ("melting away") in the area of the missing tooth, and sacrificing healthy teeth on behalf of the bridge.
Removable partial denture
This is not a permanent alternative to a lost tooth. It is unstable and loosely attached, which affects both function and comfort. A removable partial denture is made of plastic – a material that can't create the same esthetic result as a ceramic crown. The benefits are few but do exist: adjacent teeth aren't affected. It is easily and quickly installed and relatively cheap.
This alternative has some clear advantages: it is quickly installed, functions well and, since it is made of ceramic, it gives a high esthetic result. Moreover, natural healthy teeth aren't affected. But it is not very permanent. The resin-bonded bridge will eventually come off – probably after just a couple of years – and will then have to be reinstalled.