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.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is 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/artificial tooth. The titanium implant is placed down into the socket formerly occupied by the tooth root. The jawbone then grows around the implant, making it a part of the jaw. A post is then attached to the implant and an artificial tooth is attached to the post. Because the implant is fully anchored into the jawbone, a dental implant feels and functions just like a natural tooth.
Why do I need to 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 healthy regeneration. When that energy no longer is delivered because the tooth above is missing, the jawbone begins to deteriorate and resorb.
- 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.
Would I be a good candidate for a dental implant?
So that they can 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.
Why are dental implants the best option for replacing a missing tooth?
There are a number of reasons Dr. DeStefano believes dental implants are the best option for replacing a missing tooth:
- Once in place, a dental implant functions exactly like a natural tooth, so the patient can eat any foods and chew normally.
- Implants are stand-alone procedures, meaning that adjacent teeth don’t need to be adjusted as they do when placing a bridge.
- Implants keep pressure on your adjacent teeth to stay in place.
- Implants are load-bearing teeth; they transfer energy down into the jawbone just as natural teeth do. This keeps the jawbone healthy.
- Implants have a 90 to 95% success rate and can last for decades.
How are dental implants placed?
Consultation: The implant process begins with a consultation with Dr. DeStefano, who performs a full oral exam and takes x-rays and a CT scan to determine your jawbone mass.
Placement: Next the titanium implant is placed into the socket of the natural tooth root. Dr. DeStefano may have to drill a small hole into the jawbone to prepare it. The implant is shaped like a screw and is inserted in that fashion.
Osseointegration: Now 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.
Abutment: When the jawbone has fully grown around the implant, a small metal post, called an abutment, is attached to the implant and the gum tissue is allowed to heal for around six weeks.
Placing the crown: The final step is to place a custom-made porcelain crown (artificial tooth) 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.
How long do implants last?
Implants are the longest lasting dental prostheses. Implants often last the remainder of the patient’s life. A good home hygiene regiment is key to long-term oral health.
Do I need to provide special care for my implant?
Dental implants function exactly like natural teeth, and they only need the same basic hygiene — twice daily brushing and flossing is all they require.
Schedule a consultation
Dr. Thomas DeStefano is a dental implant specialist. If you’re missing a tooth, contact our office at (585) 248-2383 to find out if a dental implant could be the right solution for you. We look forward to providing the personal care you deserve.