While we do everything we can to help preserve your natural teeth, tooth loss can still sometimes happen as a result of injury, disease, or the natural aging process. Living with missing teeth can hinder your ability to enjoy certain foods and speak as you normally do. It also changes your appearance. Modern dentistry, however, offers several ways to restore your smile if you have lost one or more teeth. One of the most popular tooth-replacement treatment options is dental implants.
A dental implant is a type of dental prosthetic that is used to permanently replace a tooth. A single implant consists of three parts:
The dental implant's anchor mimics a tooth's natural root system, holding the replacement dental crown firmly in place.
Dental implants are often used to replace teeth on a one-for-one basis. They are also used to replace multiple teeth by supporting a dental bridge or to replace all of a patient's teeth with a set of implant-supported dentures.
Dental implants offer a variety of benefits over other tooth-replacement options which is why they are so popular. The benefits of dental implants include:
Additionally, dental implants provide direct stimulation to the jawbone the way that natural teeth do. As a result, patients who replace missing teeth with dental implants also maintain the health and strength of their jawbones. With other kinds of tooth replacements or by leaving a tooth unreplaced, the jawbone can deteriorate over time, changing your appearance and affecting the health of neighboring teeth.
Dental implants are an excellent option for replacing missing teeth, but they are not necessarily the best or right option for everyone.
To be a candidate for dental implants, your gums need to be healthy with no signs of existing periodontal disease. Additionally, you must have adequate jawbone mass available to support the implant. If there is not enough bone matter available, then you might first need to undergo a bone grafting procedure before receiving a dental implant.
Additionally, patients should be healthy enough to undergo the implantation process and be willing and able to abstain from alcohol and tobacco use of all kinds throughout the recovery process.
The process of getting a dental implant begins with a consultation. During this appointment, our dentist will talk with you about your treatment goals, perform an examination, and take a few diagnostic images to assess the health of your jawbone. We then work with you to design your comprehensive treatment plan.
Dental implant placement takes place at a separate appointment and begins with the administration of local anesthetic to ensure you're comfortable throughout the appointment. Implant placement is a surgical procedure followed by a healing period. During the healing period, the jawbone osseointegrates with a biocompatible implant.
Once fully healed, we attach the abutment to the dental implant. Depending on the manner in which your gum tissues heal around the dental implant, we might place the dental crown at this same appointment or schedule you for a separate appointment for placing the dental crown.
After receiving your dental implant, you can continue following your normal oral hygiene routine. We do sometimes suggest that patients begin using a water flosser in their oral care routine to help ensure the gums remain healthy and bacteria-free around the dental implant.
With dental implants and comprehensive restorative and cosmetic dentistry services, we can help you restore your smile to its full beauty and function. If you're missing one or more teeth, we encourage you to contact our office to request a smile restoration consultation with our dentist in San Francisco. We can examine your mouth, talk with you about your oral health and smile goals, and help you determine the best course of treatment to meet your unique needs.