Here at A Dentistry, Drs. Amaral and Anastassatos love making a difference in people’s lives by providing strong, natural-looking, long-lasting dental implants. People with a full set of healthy, beautiful teeth feel more confident, speak more clearly, and have improved physical health because they can now properly chew and digest their food. Not everybody loves the dentist, but our implant patients definitely do!
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are a synthetic tooth root in the shape of a post that is surgically placed into the jawbone. The “root” is usually made of titanium: the same material used in many replacement hips and knees, and a metal that is well-suited to pairing with human bone. For patients who have an aversion to metal, such as a metal allergy, we also have the option of using ceramic for the implant. Once the implant has healed and integrated with the patient’s bone, a crown is placed on the implant.
Dental Implants are used to replace a single or multiple missing teeth. If someone has a missing tooth, an implant can restore the appearance, as well as the function, of the missing tooth. Implants are a conservative way to replace a missing tooth or teeth. Since they are a stand-alone structure, we do not need to involve adjacent teeth or cut away good tooth structure like we do for a bridge. There is no additional attachment so brushing and flossing is the same as the rest of the mouth.
The ideal candidate for implants is a non-smoker who has good oral health, including a sufficient amount of bone in the jaw, and healthy gums with no sign of gum disease.
Implants vs. Bridges and Dentures
A bridge is a way to replace single missing teeth by attaching a pontic, or “fake tooth”, to two or more supporting teeth. To attach the pontic we prepare the adjacent teeth for crowns, whether they need crowns or not, to facilitate placement of a three- or four-unit piece that is cemented in place. Because these teeth are connected, oral hygiene is more difficult, and two teeth are now doing the job of three or four. Patients will need to use additional home care products to ensure the area is properly cleaned. Bridges are historically a good way to replace missing teeth but have a five to ten year life span.
Dental Implants are a great alternative to bridges, but the people who get the biggest benefit from implants are denture wearers. As few as two implants can be used to anchor a lower denture, so it doesn’t move or shift while speaking or chewing. Implants can dramatically improve a denture-wearer’s quality of life. We can even take a patient out of dentures permanently and make them fixed (not removable) using a treatment called All-On-4®.
Contrary to what many may think, placement of a dental implant is for the most part painless. Most often, our patients will take over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen after surgery because the narcotic pain medication is not necessary. For most of our patients, the procedure is performed using just local anesthetic. While sedation is definitely not required, we can certainly prescribe oral sedatives for patients who are nervous about the procedure.
Caring for Your Implant
Dental implants are designed to last forever. If cared for and maintained properly both at home by brushing and flossing and in our Reno dental office with professional cleanings, an implant will last the duration of your life. Implants do not weaken or change when kept in good health. The only part that may need to be changed over the life span of the implant is the crown.