Living with missing, damaged, or decaying teeth can be both physically and emotionally draining. Many people want to regain their confidence with a bright smile, but they aren’t sure if they are a good candidate for the necessary treatment. Dental implants are one of the most common and successful ways patients have used to renew their smiles. If you are wondering when to consider dental implants, the team at Allred Dental has the information you need to make an informed decision.
Making decisions that can affect the rest of your life is never easy. San Marcos, CA residents know they can trust Allred Dental to give them the best treatment and help to make educated choices about their oral health. If you’re interested in learning more about our practice and live in the Encinitas, Oceanside, or San Marcos areas, call our office to schedule an appointment. Our staff is happy to help!
How Dental Implants Work
When a patient has missing or damaged dentition, dental implants are the most effective and permanent treatment available. This method uses titanium rods that are embedded into the jawbone beneath the gum line. Titanium reacts very well with bone and after some time osseointegration occurs, growing new bone over around the implant itself and locking it into place.
Once the implant has had time to heal, your dentist will install an abutment to secure a crown in the appropriate spot. This replacement will be specially made to look just like a natural tooth. Another return visit is necessary to have the crown set since these components are usually manufactured at an off-site facility. Because of the healing time involved between steps, it can take several months for the entire process to complete.
Once the procedure is finished, patients should again have a full set of teeth. These can be a mix of natural dentition and artificial crowns, but some patients end up having most, if not all, of their teeth replaced in this way. Crowns are tinted to match the other teeth in your mouth, and since they look, act, and feel like the real thing no one will be the wiser.
Reasons For Dental Implants
Patients choose dental implants for a variety of reasons. Because it is a permanent procedure, you should consider if such a step is right for you. Some of the most common reasons people choose implants include:
- Having one or more missing teeth
- Looking for a long-term solution for dental repair
- Seeking the self-confidence of a natural-looking smile
- Avoiding the hassles of or an inability to wear dentures
- Improving speaking ability
Most patients are exceedingly happy with the results of dental implant surgery. Even though it may take some time, the procedure’s high success rate means you can have confidence that your smile will be looking better than ever.
Benefits and Drawbacks
Dental implants are popular for a reason. In addition to their success rate, many patients have a lot of positive things to say about the procedure and their results. They look and feel just like natural teeth, and friends and family often can’t tell the difference.
Another advantage to dental implants is durability. With care they can last a lifetime, only needing replacement crowns as necessary. This means that, even though they are more pricey than alternatives, they are much more cost-effective in the long run.
However, there are some disadvantages to choosing the implant treatment. Firstly, many insurances have issues with covering the entire procedure. In addition, the upfront cost is a bit higher. You will also have to meet some basic health requirements before your dentist approves the procedure, and the treatment itself might take up to a year or more as you recuperate.
When it comes to dental implants, most patients shy away from the procedure because they don’t want to endure a long recovery. While it may take some time to completely heal, most patients find the discomfort very manageable, no matter their age. A closer look at the recovery process shows that, while it does take some time, there truly is nothing to fear.
An initial surgery will insert the titanium implant as well as perform any bone grafts that may be necessary. A bone graft takes a long time to fully heal, up to a year in some cases, but pain and swelling should be reduced in a week or two. The same can be said for installing the abutment and cap. Throughout the healing process, your dentist will examine gums, teeth, and implants to look for infections and ensure everything is going according to plan.
To get the most out of the recovery time, patients should give themselves time to heal. Follow the recommended diet and get lots of sleep. You’ll want to stick with soft foods initially, but as the swelling and discomfort reduces, you’ll be able to experiment with other options as well. Remember that most of your recovery time will be pain-free as you wait for the bone to heal.
A Good Candidate
Not everyone can have implant surgery as a treatment option. There are several aspects to the procedure that demands a patient meets certain requirements. You may be a great candidate if you meet the following criteria:
- Excellent Oral Health: Because dental implants require oral surgery, the patient's gums and mouth should be in excellent health. Problems with existing dentition may create more severe issues later, and sickly teeth and gums won’t heal effectively.
- Good Overall Health: It is also important that the patient doesn't have any underlying conditions that might hamper the recovery process. For example, someone with osteoporosis may find it difficult to maintain the bone density needed for implants to seat properly. In these cases, an alternative procedure may be necessary.
- Adequate Bone Density: The titanium rod used in dental implants needs to be set into the jawbone. If the bone is not dense enough or is diseased in some way, osseointegration will not take place and implants will not seat correctly.
- Time for the Procedure: It can take several months until the treatment is completed. Patients need to have the time to dedicate to caring for their mouths post-surgery. Those unwilling or unable to do so might want to look at less time-intensive alternatives.
- Non-Smoker: Smoking can absolutely ruin the healing process, including preventing osseointegration and deteriorating bone growth. As such, patients electing for the procedure should quit the habit first.
- Responsibility: Taking care of your dental implants after the procedure is very important. Most dentists are unwilling to put a patient through the treatment if poor oral hygiene will result in more tooth loss or a failure in the implant itself.
Other factors are tied to the age of the individual. Younger patients are still growing and don’t have the oral or emotional development necessary. On the other hand, many older patients have illnesses such as osteoporosis that may put their candidacy into question. Make a consultation with your dentist and discuss whether dental implants fit your lifestyle.
Dentures as an Alternative
Some patients feel that dental implants just aren’t the best option. For those looking for a different treatment, dentists suggest dentures as an alternative. These appliances are imitation teeth and gums that resemble natural dentition. While there is some debate between dental implants vs dentures, you and your dentist should look at all of the benefits and drawbacks together.
Because they are removable, it is a much less intensive procedure than implants. In addition, they can be fit around existing teeth, meaning full replacement may not be necessary. Using dentures has also been found to mitigate the loss of bone density due to missing teeth. Because they are removable, maintenance is also a snap, and since it is not a permanent solution, the patient can choose other treatments if they desire in the years to come. Dentures can also be used in conjunction with implants. In these situations, the set of false teeth is held in place by the implants themselves, offering the best of both worlds.
There are downsides when comparing false teeth to dental implants. Since implants are permanent, there’s no fear of them falling out if adhesives don’t hold. Also, some patients take a long time to get used to wearing dentures. It may take several return visits to get them adjusted properly. However, if you aren't a good candidate for implants, the benefits of dentures still outweigh their drawbacks.
It’s understandable to be nervous when wondering when to consider dental implants. After all, any surgery is invasive, and the end result is a permanent change to your dentition. At Allred Dental, we want you to take the time to learn about the procedure in its entirety. Our expert staff is on hand to answer all of your questions and help make sure you’re making the best decisions for your oral health. Don’t let missing teeth stand in the way of a great smile. Call our San Marcos, CA dental office to schedule an appointment today!