Each year, millions of Americans undergo tooth extractions due to trauma, decay, infection and a host of other reasons. Many are left with questions about what to do next to replace their missing tooth or missing teeth. Although losing a single tooth or multiple teeth can be a troubling experience, we at Swanson Dental Group in Reno, NV want to ensure that you have a complete understanding of your options if you find yourself wanting to restore your smile. Swanson Dental Group will help to create a treatment plan for dental implants to help improve your oral health and overall quality of life.
At its most basic definition, a dental implant is a titanium implant post used as a tooth root replacement for a missing natural tooth. In natural teeth, there are 2 basic parts: the crown and the root. The crown is the part of the tooth we see and use to chew, whereas the root is buried in the jaw bone, covered by gums. In dental implants, there are 3 basic parts. These parts include the dental implant itself (also known as the “post”), the abutment, and the implant crown. The implant is placed into the jaw bone just like the root of a natural tooth, the abutment fastens to the implant, and the crown fastens to the abutment. When considering options for a missing tooth, a dental implant is usually the best option, providing the most life-like appearance, feel and function, just like a natural tooth.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Dental implants are incredibly versatile and offer many benefits over other restorative options. Dental implants are a popular solution in dentistry and can replace a single missing tooth, multiple missing teeth, or even all of the teeth. Dental implants can be used to anchor permanent prostheses (i.e.- “All on 4” or “All on X”) or to help retain removable prostheses, like dentures or partial dentures. The major benefits of dental implants include:
Dental implants look, feel and function like natural teeth
Dental implants are durable, long-lasting and permanent. They don’t have to be removed, like dentures or partial dentures do
Dental implants help to preserve bone
Dental implants provide better support to full arch restorations
Dental implants allow for improved chewing
Dental implants have a high success rate and do not get decay
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the drawbacks to dental implants?
Other than time, there are very few downsides to dental implants. After a surgical procedure for the placement of a dental implant, several months of healing are required before the tooth can be restored with an implant crown. This longer timeframe from implant placement to implant restoration is the primary drawback to a dental implant procedure. Fortunately, temporary tooth replacement appliances are available during this healing time so patients do not have the appearance of a missing tooth.
Another widespread belief is that dental implants are exceedingly expensive and therefore not an affordable option. The truth is, comparing a dental implant to a 3-unit bridge, the costs can be strikingly similar. Additionally, the longevity of a dental implant that is properly placed and maintained can be significantly better than a bridge, which may require replacement more often. This makes the investment of a dental implant more favorable long term.
Although implants do not get decay, they can fail for other reasons. Dental implants may fail from broken parts, improper placement or from the deleterious effects of gum disease and inflamed gum tissue. Just like your natural teeth, dental implants require excellent hygiene and must be cared for with regular brushing, flossing and professional cleanings.
What is a dental implant procedure like?
After a detailed examination, if you and Dr. Swanson have decided that a dental implant is the best option for you, we will begin by capturing a 3D x-ray, called a CT scan. With this information, Dr. Swanson can digitally plan the implant and prepare for surgery. On the day of surgery, anesthesia will be administered and the dental implant(s) will be inserted. The dental implant will require several months healing as it fuses to the jaw bone. Once the implant is fully healed, you will return for impressions, and again for the delivery of the final crown. Usually 3-4 appointments are required to complete a dental implant, though this can vary from case to case. We also recommend regular checkups and cleanings in order to maintain your oral health after the dental implant procedure.
What is the cost of a dental implant?
The cost of dental implants can vary greatly from patient to patient and depends on several factors. These factors include: whether an extraction is needed prior to dental implant surgery, whether bone grafting is needed, what type of bone grafting is needed, how many tooth implants are required, and what is the planned final prosthesis. Another factor is whether dental insurance will offer any financial assistance or not. If you are interested in dental implants, give us a call at our Reno, NV office and we will help you set up an appointment for your first visit where we will provide an evaluation to make sure you are a good candidate for a dental implant. We will discuss all the factors pertaining to your specific needs so that you are aware of what to expect financially. We want you to be fully informed of all your options so you can decide on the best treatment for you.
Dental Implant vs. Bridge
For a permanent solution, a dental implant or a bridge are the most common options to replace a missing tooth. A bridge is a restoration that can be used when there are natural teeth on both sides of a missing tooth. The natural teeth act as anchors for the bridge and must be shaved down to allow the bridge to fit over the top. A bridge functions similarly to natural teeth, but essentially is 3 dental crowns fused together. Therefore, cleaning and flossing a bridge is different and can be challenging at first. A bridge requires involvement of 3 teeth to address a 1 tooth problem. A dental implant, on the other hand, offers a 1 tooth solution for a 1 tooth problem. A major benefit of an implant over a bridge is that an implant does not require drilling on two otherwise healthy teeth. Additionally, if one anchor tooth of a bridge fails (due to decay, fracture, etc.) the whole bridge fails and will require replacement.
Why is it important to replace missing teeth?
After a tooth extraction, changes begin to occur in the surrounding bone. Bone will lose volume, shrinking in height and width during the healing process following a tooth extraction. These bony changes will result in the surrounding teeth shifting out of alignment over time. It may also affect your bite and your ability to chew. Why does the bone change after an extraction? Bone follows the principle, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” Meaning, the jaw bone requires stimulation or it will atrophy over time resulting in bone loss. The roots of natural teeth are embedded in the bone of the jaw and when we eat, our chewing forces stimulate bone and prevent atrophy. Similarly, dental implants provide this same bone stimulation, thereby preserving bone volume. Unfortunately, prostheses like dentures and partial dentures do not offer bone stimulation, since they rest on top of the gums. As a result, bone will continue to shrink over time with dentures and partial dentures, creating undesirable facial changes including a “sunk in” appearance of the lips and cheeks.
Another reason to replace missing teeth is to prevent damage to other teeth caused by the increased forces applied. As teeth are lost, the bite force does not change, but the pressure applied to each individual tooth increases. This can result in damage to surrounding teeth or even premature tooth loss. Replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant helps to distribute the bite forces, improve chewing function, prevent premature tooth loss, and restore a beautiful, natural smile for good overall oral health.
If you have additional questions about dental implants or want to know if you’re a candidate, give our Reno, NV dental office a call. Swanson Dental Group is your local Reno, NV dentist located in Northern Nevada. Let us know if we can help restore the confidence in your smile.