“You have a great smile” is one of the best compliments regardless of who it’s coming from or what your stage in life is, but what if you’re not feeling so confident in your smile these days? If you’re wanting a way to restore your healthy oral appearance, you may be curious about the possibilities of dental implants for you. Check out the four things you should know about dental implants below.

A dentist showing a patient her dental x-ray

Dental Implant Basics

Before getting into our four things you should know about dental implants, we’re going to quickly cover the basics: what are dental implants, and why would you need them? Dental implants are essentially replacements for tooth roots, substitutions to provide foundations for replacement teeth. Surgery is required to put the implants into the jaw bone, then the attaching posts to anchor artificial teeth.

Dental implants are good for those with missing or damaged teeth who want permanent replacements for their natural teeth. If you’re recognizing potential dental problems in your elder loved one or yourself, considering dental implants may be the way to go.

#1: You Need an Initial Consultation

First and foremost, it’s important to understand the approval process for dental implants. Before the implant process begins, an evaluation will determine if you are a candidate for dental implants. For example, patients need healthy gums and sufficient bone to support dental implants. In addition, patients must be committed to maintaining oral hygiene and scheduling regular dental appointments to go forward.

During the initial consultation, a professional will take an x-ray to evaluate your oral health. Infection or decay will be addressed before the implant procedure. Ideal candidates for dental implants have a strong foundation in their mouth, including healthy gum tissue and a jaw with adequate bone structure.

Age is a factor in dental health, but The American Dental Association values oral health as a greater determining factor for approval. Restoration may be necessary if you have a weak jaw bone or advanced gum disease. An oral surgeon will perform a bone graft to strengthen the jaw.

#2: You Need to Prepare for Multiple Visits

After getting approved as a candidate for this type of oral surgery, you will need to attend follow-up visits to get your dental implants in place. Typically, you’ll need two separate surgical procedures for the full process. The first procedure places the dental implants directly in the jaw bone. Time has to pass for the implants to bond with that bone in the jaw as they sit beneath the surface of the gums. This usually takes three to six months, during which the patient can eat a soft diet and wear temporary dentures. Meanwhile, the dentist or oral surgeon designs the individual bridgework piece.

When the dental implant bonds to the jaw bone fully, it’s time for the second phase, where the surgeon uncovers the implants and takes an impression of the teeth. They attach posts or attachments to the implants over which the replacement teeth can be made. Specific processes vary for each specific dental office and individual patient’s circumstances, but generally the process to get dental implants takes over six months. However, it is a streamlined procedure with gradual changes, which makes it a smooth transition for patients incorporating their new teeth into their daily routine.

#3: You Need to Care for Your Dental Implants

As you know, natural teeth are best cared for with a combination of regular brushing, flossing, and dental appointments. The same is true for dental implants. Oral surgeons or dentists may give specific recommendations. Often a special toothpaste is used to minimize abrasion on the artificial teeth. Dental implants will feel similar to natural teeth after a period of adjustment. This means that, soon enough, the patient will be able to get into a routine of oral hygiene that would look virtually identical to the oral hygiene care of someone without dental implants.

A dental hygienist uses a dental tool to indicate the placement of the dental implants

#4: You Should Research All of Your Options

While dental implants are a great option that can last a lifetime with proper care and are individualized and secure, other restorative dentistry options should be considered before the procedure. If you’re looking for a less expensive, less permanent solution for missing teeth than dental implants, a dental bridge can be a good option. Or, if teeth aren’t missing but are just crooked or out of alignment, aligners or braces would likely be a better fit than a more extreme procedure. Your dentist can walk you through your situation and what would be recommended for the restorative dentistry you want or need.

We’re Smiling for You

If you’re ready for that perfectly sparkly smile, dental implants may be your ticket. But remember, no matter if your teeth are natural or replacements, it’s important to prioritize your oral health and make frequent visits to your dentist. So whether you’re ready to start the process to get some dental implants or you’re resolving to never need them, we’re smiling for you.

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