Your teeth play a critical role in maintaining your self-esteem, confidence, and personality. A beautiful smile makes it easy to interact and connect with other people. Missing a tooth can be inconveniencing, and it can negatively impact your ability to smile, talk, and eat. If your natural teeth have a problem, it will be challenging to feel presentable even when the rest of your body and outfits look spectacular.

More and more people are paying attention to their smiles and looks. Instead of going for cosmetic surgery, which is painful, time-consuming, and expensive, a significant number of people are opting for cosmetic dentistry. Dental implants are a form of cosmetic dentistry to restore your smile after loss of teeth. Tooth loss can be due to gum disease, tooth decay, extreme wear and tear, root canal failure, congenital disabilities, or oral trauma. Although nothing can substitute healthy, natural teeth, dental implants are the ultimate solution in both functionality and aesthetics.

Placing dental implants is a form of oral surgery. Therefore, you must seek the services of an experienced dentist who has the requisite training for such a delicate procedure. At Northridge Dentist Center, we have high beauty standards and a passion for designing more beautiful smiles in and around Northridge, CA. We will replace your lost or damaged teeth to give you a smile that will radiate your inner confidence.

Understanding Dental Implants

Dental implants are ceramic or titanium posts that a dentist implants directly into your jawbone surgically. They act as stable anchors for replacement teeth, and one implant can anchor several teeth. Therefore, you can have one implant to support multiple replacement teeth. After the placement procedure, your jaw bone will start growing around the implant, which contributes to the implants’ practical support.

Dental implants are similar to the roots of your teeth, the ones that go deep into your gums and support the visible section of the teeth. They have a screw-shaped design and are set in your jaw bone to provide a base for the crown, a tooth-like structure that replaces your natural tooth. The dentist then adds a connector, known as an abutment, over the implant to provide extra support for the crown and make the entire structure more solid. After stabilizing the implant, your dentist fixes a replacement tooth that does not shift. Your dentist then customizes your crowns to suit the size and shape of your jaw and teeth.

Dental implants feel and look like natural teeth, allowing you to speak and chew as you did before losing your tooth. They are virtually identical to your natural teeth and the most natural-looking remedy that dentistry can provide. They are a permanent solution for your missing teeth, and it is usually challenging to differentiate dental implants from natural teeth. With proper care, your dental implants will never need replacement because they are not susceptible to tooth decay, worn enamel, or cavities. Also, dental implants have a success rate of more than 95%, meaning you are unlikely to have any issues with your surgery.

Types of Dental Implants

Every patient is unique. Therefore, dental implants come in varying types, heights, and sizes to accommodate your needs. You must visit your dentist before you start treatment for them to decide the most suitable type of implant to use. You can choose a dental implant from these two categories:

  1. Endosteal: These are the most common dental implants. They are made of titanium, have a screw shape, and the dental surgeon places them inside your jaw bone. After the surrounding tissue heals, your dentist will connect a post to your implant then attach the artificial tooth to that post.
  1. Subperiosteal: A dentist places these metal posts in your gums above the jawbone, as opposed to inside your jaw bone. They are usually used when the health of your natural jaw bone is insufficient to withstand the dental procedure. They are also ideal if you prefer not to wait for bone augmentation to rebuild your natural bone. During healing, the frame will merge with your jawbone; then, your dentist will attach the artificial tooth to the posts.

Determining Your Candidature for Dental Implants

You can get dental implants at any time after puberty or when your bone growth process is complete. To determine your eligibility for a dental implant, your dentist will examine your gums and teeth, and evaluate your bone quantity and density. They will use a cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) and X-rays to ensure your bone structure is adequate for implant placement, and determine the positioning of the implants.

Other factors that will determine your candidacy are:

  • You may need additional treatment before placement of your dental implants if you suffer from certain illnesses such as periodontal disease, cancer or active diabetes
  • If you smoke, your dentist may advise you to quit before performing the procedure because smokers have a higher probability of implant failure.
  • If you take immuno-suppressants, your likelihood of implant failure is higher.
  • If your gum or bone tissue is insufficient, you will require soft tissue or bone grafts and the use of mini (small diameter) implants.

Your doctor will recommend the most suitable treatment plan depending on:

  • The state of your gums and jaw bone
  • Your habits and oral hygiene
  • Your commitment to adhere to aftercare instructions

The Process of Placing Dental Implants

Dental implant surgery is a multi-stage process that your dentist, oral surgeon, or prosthodontist will do. Most of the stages require healing before you proceed to the successive one, and the entire process often takes between five months and slightly over one year. You can speak to your dentist to understand what you can expect from the procedure.

Generally, the stages in a dental implant procedure are:

  1. The Initial Consultation

Once you decide to have implants, you must consult your prosthodontist to discuss the most suitable kind of dental implants for you. The specialist will take 3D images or X-rays of your teeth and mouth, and develop a mold to use during the design and placement of your implant. They will also determine the ability of your jaw bone to withstand the procedure. If the bone is too weak, you will discuss bone grafting options.

  1. Removal of the Damaged Tooth

The first step in the dental implant procedure is to remove the damaged tooth. Extracting a tooth that is either damaged beyond repair or cracked is a procedure on its own. Although it is straightforward and may take just minutes, tooth extraction requires a local anesthetic and time to recover.

  1. Bone Grafting

If your jaw bone is too weak or lacks the necessary bone density to support the implant, your dental surgeon will perform bone grafting. This process involves taking a tiny piece of bone from another of your body parts and adding it to the jaw as part of the implant procedure. Sometimes, your dentist may choose to use synthetic materials for bone-grafting. After bone grafting, you will take between four months and one year for your jawbone and gums to heal correctly and be ready for the implant. If you need minor bone grafting, it may be possible to have both the grafting and implant placement in one procedure.

  1. Placing the Dental Implant

After you heal from tooth extraction and bone grafting, the dentist will fix the implant by cutting into your gums and drilling into the jaw bone. They will place the titanium rod beneath your gum line to act as an anchor for the new tooth. The pain or discomfort is relatively unnoticeable and will not interfere with your routine activities. Most patients undergo the procedure comfortably with local anesthesia, but your dental surgeon can recommend sedation if you have dental anxiety. You can expect some bruising, swelling, pain, and minor bleeding similar to other dental procedures. However, over-the-counter medications can help manage these issues.

After implanting the post, your dentist will secure your gums over the dental implant and keep it covered until it fuses with your jawbone. The implant and the jaw bone will take between four and seven months to merge through the process of osseointegration. During healing, you will not feel the implant, but your dentist may recommend a soft food diet to allow complete healing.

  1. Placement of the Healing Cap

After your implant fuses securely with your jaw bone, your dental surgeon will position a healing cap to fit evenly with your gum at the edge of your implant. The gum heals around the cap to prepare for the placement of the crown and the abutment. It takes between 10 and 14 days for the gum to heal around the cap.

  1. Placement of Abutment and a Temporary Crown

After healing of the tissue surrounding the cap, your dentist will remove the cap and replace it with a dental implant abutment. The dental surgeon will screw the abutment onto the implant, extending the abutment just above your gum line, where they will attach your replacement tooth. Your dentist will then place a temporary crown on top of the abutment, and it will be in place for between four and six weeks to allow proper healing of your gums.

  1. Placement of a Permanent Artificial Tooth

After your gums heal completely, your dentist will take impressions of your mouth and the other teeth on the jawline to determine measurements of your artificial tooth. While you wear the temporary crown, your permanent one will be made, a process that takes two or three weeks. You can get a single or multiple implant placement at once. Your dentist will securely place your replacement tooth, and it will function just like your natural tooth.

Choosing Your Artificial Teeth

Your artificial teeth can either be fixed, removable, or a combination of the two.

  • Fixed: Your artificial tooth will be permanently cemented or screwed into the implant abutment, and you cannot remove it during sleep or for cleaning. Cementing the crown gives it a better appearance because it does not have a visible screw hole. However, using a screw makes it easier for the dentist to remove the crown if they need to get to the implant or the surrounding tissue. Often, each crown has its implant, but one implant can support several crowns because implants are remarkably stable.
  • Removable: This type of artificial teeth is similar to conventional removable dentures, and can be either a full or partial denture. It comes in the form of a pink plastic gum surrounding white artificial teeth. It has a metal frame that you will attach to the abutment to secure the denture into place. You can easily remove it for daily cleaning or repair.

After the Procedure

The entire process of placing dental implants takes time, but each step is manageable, and only a local anesthetic is necessary. Here are some things you need to do immediately after your surgery:

  • You may experience soreness and bleeding of the gums and jaw, bruises, and swelling, but often it is a little discomfort. Over-the-counter medications will alleviate the pain, while gauze pads can help control the bleeding.
  • Eat soft foods and avoid spicy or chewy foods that can stick in the incision site until you heal completely.
  • Your artificial tooth cannot decay, but they will require the same dental hygiene as natural teeth.
  • After completing treatment, you must visit your dentist for a post-operative check-up to ensure that your teeth have no problems.

Caring for Dental Implants

With proper maintenance, your dental implants can easily last for the rest of your life. Your dental surgeon will guide you on how to care for your implants. Here are some general tips on caring for dental implants.

  • Although dental implants do not get cavities, you must brush and floss to remove the buildup of dental plaque and harmful bacteria. Cleaning dentures is similar to cleaning your natural teeth. Certain areas may be strenuous to reach, but your dentist will demonstrate how to do it.
  • Smoking slows down the recovery process. If you are a smoker, it is critical to avoid smoking immediately after the procedure. However, quitting is more beneficial.
  • Have regular dental check-ups every six months to ensure your dental implants work correctly and remain aware of your oral health.
  • Avoid harmful habits: Do not chew hard things, such as hard candy or ice, which can damage your crowns or natural teeth. Also, avoid tooth-staining caffeine products and tobacco. Seek treatment if you often grind your teeth.

Benefits of Dental Implants

The process of placing dental implants is quite lengthy, but the benefits outweigh the waiting period. Reasons why you should consider having a dental implant if you require an artificial tooth are:

  • Bone health

Dental implants are a replacement for the roots of your teeth. Therefore, bone loss is less likely though it can still happen. When you have missing teeth, your jaw bone may start receding and cause wrinkling and a sunken look around your mouth. Dental implants preserve the bone and maintain your facial structure.

  • No cavities

Just like any other tooth, the natural tooth structure that anchors bridges is susceptible to decay. However, implant-supported crowns cannot develop cavities. A majority of the implants are titanium, and a few are metal-free zirconium. The implant replaces your tooth, meaning you do not have a natural tooth structure that can decay. Even without the possibility of developing cavities, you must still maintain excellent oral health.

  • Durability

Dental implants are the most permanent solution available for damaged or missing teeth. They are more durable and stronger than removable dentures or cemented bridges and crowns. They are very stable because they fuse with your jaw, and with proper care, they can last long like your regular teeth. When you use them to support a dental crown or bridge because you are missing multiple teeth, they provide a stable, cavity-resistant foundation for the restorations.

Dental bridges will usually last between five and ten years before you need to replace them, while dentures can last for up to eight years. Having dental implants is a better option if you are looking for a lasting solution. They last for up to 40 years before replacement, though you may need to replace the crown sooner. If you are older than 40 years, you can have your restoration for life if you observe proper oral hygiene. You should also avoid smoking because it weakens the jaw bone. 

  • High success rate

Placement of dental implants is one of the most successful dental procedures, with average success rates of up to 95%. The success is partly because your dentist must first approve your treatment after an oral examination. Taking immunosuppressants and smoking can affect your candidacy because they increase the possibility of implant failure. Maintaining good oral health and following your dentist’s instructions on post-implant oral care will increase your chances of enjoying a successful and long-lasting implant.

  • Aesthetics

Dental implants feel, look, and function like ordinary teeth. If you are experiencing self-esteem issues and trauma that come with the loss of teeth, having dental implants can help you feel more confident. Also, implants do not have the distinct “clicks” that alert people about your new dentures.

  • Adaptability

Restoration of missing canines and incisors is more complicated than that of premolars and molars. These two sets of teeth are the most visible when you smile. Therefore, it is critical to pay extra attention when fabricating the replacement tooth. Their spacing is also more problematic for bridges because they are narrower and smaller than molars. While you can have veneers for damaged canines and incisors, implants are the best for any missing teeth. Mini dental implants are ideal for replacing incisors or small teeth because of their size. They are also cheaper than regular implants and require less drilling of the jawbone.

  • Functionality

Dental implants do not just provide a picture-perfect smile. The titanium post fuses to your jaw and holds the implant in place. Therefore, unlike dentures, implants make eating and chewing more natural, and they do not affect your speech. You can speak without mumbling, slurring, or worrying about slipping teeth.

Additionally, you can have dental implants to replace one tooth, multiple teeth, or all your teeth. You can also use implants to anchor dentures or a bridge into position. If you need to replace all your teeth, the ideal solution is implant-supported dentures. They cost less than implant-supported crowns and are more dependable than traditional dentures.

  • Tooth preservation

Dental implants provide an independent solution for your missing tooth. Your dentist will surgically place the implant screw into your jawbone, where it will fuse naturally with your bone. The dentist will then cap the screw with abutment and place a crown to replace your tooth. The entire procedure happens within the remaining space after you lose your tooth.

Dental bridges must anchor on adjacent teeth for support. The anchoring teeth must undergo permanent alteration to shape them. It is better to preserve healthy teeth instead of replacing them. Altering perfectly healthy teeth to serve as support for a dental bridge is not as appealing as placing an implant, which is longer lasting and more aesthetically appealing.

  • Better outcomes

Dental implants provide improved results compared to other tooth replacement procedures. Before placing implants, your dentist has adequate opportunity and time to assess your gums and jaw bone, and determine the implant to use. Also, the procedure stimulates bone formation, and it is a natural way of replacing lost teeth. The thorough evaluation and the natural bone stimulation process improve the precision of the treatment and eliminate the dangers associated with placing the implant manually.

  • Less inconvenience and discomfort

A majority of patients report that the discomfort and pain associated with dental implants are less than in other dental treatments. Doctors also hold the opinion that implants are more tolerable than other procedures. With dental implants, you can resume your routine activities a day after having your surgery.

  • Cost-effectiveness

Dental implants are the most cost-effective of all dental treatments. They are more durable than bridges and dentures and are designed to last your entire life. The initial cost seems higher than that of other options. However, you will, in the long run, spend less money and time in restorations, maintenance, repairs, and replacement than you would with bridges or removable dentures.

Find a Northridge Dentist Near Me

Do you have a missing or damaged tooth you want to replace? Are you looking to restore your beautiful smile or make chewing easier? There are many dental restoration options, but none are as durable and practical as dental implants. The implants not only restore your smile, but your mouth will feel and function as if all your teeth are natural. If you need tooth replacement, you can call 818-875-0216, and speak to a competent, experienced Northridge Dentist. Our dentists will evaluate your needs, patiently answer all your questions, and recommend the most appropriate treatment plan. We provide the best service and the most comfortable dental experience possible to our clientele in Northridge, CA.