What are dental implants?
Dental implants are a prosthetic replacement for a missing tooth or a tooth that needs extraction. An implant consists of three parts: the implant, the post, and a crown or artificial tooth. Dental implants are far and away the best solution for the replacement of a missing tooth. Implants are strong, function exactly like a natural tooth, and often last the remainder of the patient’s life. In addition to replacing a missing tooth, Dr. DeStefano uses dental implants as anchors for dentures and bridges.
Dental Implant Candidates
In order for an implant to anchor down into the jawbone, dental implants require the patient to have sufficient jawbone mass. If you’ve been missing a tooth or a few teeth for some time, you may have lost some of that jawbone mass and it may not be adequate to hold an implant. In these cases, some bone grafting will be necessary to rebuild the jawbone before placing the implant. However, as long as there isn’t an issue such as gum disease, pretty much anyone of any age is a good candidate for a dental implant.
What is Bone Grafting?
Bone structure is vital to the long-term outcome of dental implant treatment. While we tend to perceive bone as a durable, unchanging part of the body, this tissue is actually in a continual state of regeneration. Naturally, the body removes old bone cells and replaces them with healthy new ones. This process can pose a risk to the oral structure. Losing a tooth can provoke an ongoing resorption process in which bone cells gradually degrade and disappear. This degradation can also occur as a result of untreated gum disease that has extended inward past the periodontal ligament.
The problem with bone loss is that it can eventually dismantle the structure around natural teeth, leading to tooth loss and causing changes in the appearance of the face. Insufficient bone structure in the jaw can also downgrade the effectiveness of dental implant treatment. Bone grafting may be necessary for patients whose jawbone has weakened and regressed. In addition, it is a beneficial pre-treatment that reinstates bone structure using grafting material. In many cases, this comes from human or animal donor cells that have been sterilized in a laboratory setting. When inserted into an area of the jaw in which bone has depreciated, grafting material serves as a scaffold around which new and natural bone cells can grow. Dr. DeStefano can determine if the bone needs to be built-up with grafting material by using high-definition imaging to observe the bone in detail.
what are the benefits of implants?
Dr. DeStefano believes dental implants are the best option for replacing a missing tooth. There are a number of benefits to choosing to replace your missing tooth with a dental implant. For example:
- Dental implants function exactly like a natural tooth allowing patients to eat and chew normally
- Dental implants put pressure on your adjacent teeth that make them stay in place
- Implants are load-bearing teeth and transfer energy into the jawbone which keeps the jawbone healthy
- Implants are stand-alone procedures so adjacent teeth don’t need any adjusting
- There is a 90 to 95% success rate with implants and they can last for decades
“Dr. DeStefano and his staff provide the most professional, competent, kind and supportive health service in all of my experience. Greetings are warm and genuine; appointments start on time; dental work is comfortable and as quickly concluded as possible. Dr. DeStefano himself is caring and considerate throughout, and his staff is beautifully trained to follow suit. I truly wish that every health service I must use were as extraordinary as this one!!” -Valerie P.
Types of Dental Implant Treatment
Dental implants are routinely used to restore the natural look and feel to the smile after tooth loss or extraction. There are several ways in which the goal of care can be achieved. With dental implants, it is possible to replace:
- A single tooth anywhere in the mouth.
- Multiple adjacent teeth.
- A partial denture or existing bridge.
- Or stabilize a full denture on the upper or lower arch or both.
The dental implant procedure
The implant process begins with a consultation with Dr. DeStefano, who performs a full oral exam including x-rays and a CT scan to determine your jawbone mass. Next, the titanium implant is placed into the socket of the natural tooth root. Since the implant is shaped like a screw it will be “screwed” into the jawbone. Dr. DeStefano may have to drill a small hole into the jawbone to prepare it. Then, the jawbone begins the process of growing around the implant, making it a part of the jaw. This process takes from three to six months.
When the jawbone has fully grown around the implant, a small metal post, called an abutment, is attached to the implant. After attachment, the gum tissue is left to heal for around six weeks. The final step is to place a custom-made porcelain crown onto the abutment. The crown is made to match the color and shape of the surrounding teeth so, once placed, it looks just like your other teeth. Your implant is immediately ready for chewing, biting, and eating.
Why replace a missing tooth?
It can be tempting to not replace a missing tooth, but this can create problems with your overall dental health:
- Movement: Your teeth remain in place thanks to the pressure exerted by the adjacent teeth. When a tooth is missing, the teeth on both sides of the gap tend to slide over to fill the gap. This creates problems with your bite alignment and the spacing of your teeth.
- Bite force: You don’t realize the amount of force generated by biting and chewing. The energy created is transferred downward through the tooth and into the jawbone beneath. This energy stimulates the jawbone to continually build new cells, a process of regeneration. When that energy is no longer delivered because of the missing tooth, the jawbone begins to deteriorate.
- Cosmetics: Missing a tooth or teeth can be embarrassing, particularly if the tooth is in the front. Plus, the gap can create whistling sounds when speaking. Missing molars may not be visible, but they can make you avoid eating certain foods, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Dental Implants Results
Implants are the longest lasting dental prostheses and often last the remainder of the patient’s life. Since dental implants function exactly like natural teeth, they can be maintained with the same basic hygiene. A good home hygiene regiment, brushing and flossing twice a day, is key to long-term oral health.
Are There Risks to Implant Placement?
Thousands of dental implant procedures are performed each year with only minimal and temporary side effects such as soreness. Though rare, there are also risks which include:
- Infection around dental implants.
- Injury to teeth or other structures, such as blood vessels.
- Lingering numbness, tingling, or pain in the gums, lips, or chin caused by nerve disruption.
- Suboptimal outcome due to poor osseointegration and low bone density.
What is the recovery like after getting dental implants?
In most situations, dental implant treatment is conducted in stages. First, a tooth or teeth may be extracted. In some cases, bone grafting needs to be performed. Then, implants are placed and covered for a period of healing. After osseointegration, the implant is uncovered for abutment fixation. Finally, the restoration can be affixed to the implant abutment. After each stage of the process, patients may experience mild to moderate discomfort. Common effects of dental implant treatment include:
- Swelling in the gums or face
- Bruising on the gums or skin
- Soreness or tenderness where work has been done in the mouth
- Minor bleeding
The severity and duration of side effects may vary but tends to improve significantly within about one week of a dental implant procedure. After each stage of treatment, soft foods may need to be consumed. Typically, over-the-counter medication is sufficient for managing comfort. Our office provides full post-op instructions prior to surgery. We are also available during business hours to answer questions regarding dental implant treatment and recovery.
How long do implants last?
Statistics indicate the dental implants have a success rate of over 95%. Studies focused on the long-term reliability of implant restorations suggest that patients may enjoy decades of usage after their tooth replacement procedure. It is important to separate dental implants as the stabilizers for artificial teeth. While implants can last 25 or more years, restorations such as dental crowns and bridges may need to be replaced after 10 to 15 years. Also, the lifespan of a dental implant is affected by oral care, general health, and lifestyle habits.
What’s the difference between veneers and implants?
Dental veneers are cosmetic restorations that are bonded to the front surface of the teeth that show in the smile. Dental implants are functional restorations that are inserted into the jawbone, where bone tissue grows around the posts. The purpose of veneers is to improve the appearance of the smile. Dental implants, on the other hand, are used to improve chewing function.
Schedule a consultation
Dr. Thomas DeStefano is a dental implant specialist. If you’re missing a tooth and want to find out if a dental implant is the right solution for you contact our office at (585) 248-2383. We look forward to providing the personal care you deserve. DeStefano Dentistry serves patients from Pittsford, Rochester, and surrounding areas in New York.