What You Need to Know About Dental Implants

If you’re one of the many patients in the Hutchinson, KS, community who has one or more missing teeth, dental implants may be the long-term solution you’ve been seeking to restore your smile and reclaim your confidence and well-being. But how do you know if a dental implant restoration will be the right option for your individual situation and needs?

As every patient is unique, talking with your dentist is the best way to explore your options for replacing missing teeth. However, you can start moving closer to restoring your smile’s health and beauty by gathering key information about a dental implant restoration. So whether you’re seeking solutions for one or several missing teeth, here are the top 5 facts you need to know about how dental implants can help you build a full and beautiful smile that’s dependable, strong, and natural-looking.

1. Of all tooth replacement options, dental implants most closely mimic the structure and function of your natural teeth.

Though we often only think of teeth as the part we can see (called the crown), most of our natural tooth structure lives beneath the gums and out of sight. Natural teeth have living roots that are fully integrated into your jawbone (known as the alveolar ridge) by way of the periodontal ligament and your gum tissue. In addition to supplying each tooth with nutrients and feeling, the roots of your teeth have the all-important role of distributing the force of chewing throughout the jawbone, which keeps your facial bones dense, strong, and healthy.

Alongside altering your smile’s fullness, tooth loss dramatically decreases the stimulation your jawbone receives from chewing, which causes the jawbone to “resorb” (reabsorb) back into the body. As the jawbone shrinks vertically and horizontally, the mouth and cheeks may appear hollow, unsupported, or sunken, even if a patient has been fitted with a bridge or dentures. In fact, bone loss can even be accelerated by wearing dentures, as they only produce a fraction of the positive stress needed to maintain bone health while placing unnatural pressure on the alveolar ridge.

Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that replaces the function and structure of the root and crown of missing teeth. Alongside creating a stable foundation for an implant-supported denture, crown, or bridge, this close replication helps prevent bone loss while preserving your facial integrity and shape.

2. Dental implants become a part of your bone structure.

A dental implant post is made from titanium, a material that’s renowned in medicine for its lightweight strength and general compatibility with living tissues (called biocompatibility). Alongside replacing missing teeth, titanium is often used for replacing other body parts, such as hips, shoulders, and knees.

When used to replace missing teeth, titanium offers the additional benefit of integrating into your bone structure (a process known as osseointegration). In the weeks and months following implant placement, the jawbone will fuse to the titanium implant, creating a direct and sturdy bond that will effectively transfer the force of chewing and securely anchor your prosthetic teeth in place.

3. Implants look, feel, and function like natural teeth.

Whether you’ve lost a single tooth or an entire arch of teeth, dental implants are meticulously designed to create a smile that is truly indistinguishable from your natural teeth.

When replacing a single tooth, you’ll receive one dental implant to support a dental crown made of porcelain, metal, or a fusion of the two. If you’re replacing two to six adjacent teeth, you’ll receive one or two dental implants, which will support a series of interconnected dental crowns (called a bridge). Implant-supported crowns and bridges are fixed in place and are cared for just like natural teeth. You’ll still brush and floss daily, visit your dentist twice annually, and make lifestyle choices that support your overall health and well-being, such as eating a well-balanced diet and abstaining from smoking.

Replacing a full arch of teeth is very much like replacing one to six missing teeth, except you’ll receive anywhere from two to eight dental implants to support an overdenture that will be removable to allow for nightly cleaning. Your custom-made overdenture will consist of porcelain or acrylic teeth that sit within an acrylic base that resembles the color and texture of your natural gum tissue.

4. Implant surgery is computer-guided.

Your smile is unlike any other part of your body. Your molars can exert an average biting force of 170 pounds, while the outer covering of your teeth (called enamel) is the hardest substance in your body. Despite their impressive function and strength, most of your natural teeth are not even one inch long!

To gain the fullest understanding of your smile’s unique anatomy and to ensure the best outcome and treatment experience, Dr. Wilson uses Cone Beam 3D imaging to plan, design, and place your custom implant restoration. Cone Beam 3D imaging provides the most accurate map of your oral health and tissues by capturing a variety of angles and the finest details. This  allows Dr. Wilson to identify any underlying issues and choose the best location for implant placement before your treatment begins.

5. Dental implants need healthy gums and jawbones to succeed.

As healthy gums and jawbones are the foundation for a dental implant restoration and any remaining natural teeth, Dr. Wilson will first ensure your gums and jawbone are in the best condition before implant placement. If Cone Beam 3D imaging or a routine evaluation reveals periodontal disease, soft tissue degeneration, or bone loss, Dr. Wilson will help you improve your oral health and structure with bone grafting, soft-tissue regeneration, or perio-terapy.

If your jawbones or periodontal tissues need a boost  to successfully support implant placement, Dr. Wilson will perform a regenerative procedure by inserting a special material into your alveolar ridge or periodontal tissues to help restore soft tissue that has receded or bone tissue that has deteriorated.

Dr. Wilson is also one of the few periodontists who treats and prepares your mouth’s tissues with the Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP), an advanced and minimally invasive oral surgery technique. Using a special dental laser called the PerioLase MVP-7, Dr. Wilson uses LANAP to successfully and accurately do what a scalpel can’t: remove diseased tissue, reduce the repopulation of harmful bacteria, and preserve normal, healthy tissue.

Treatment with LANAP also prepares the bone and soft tissue for better healing, promotes implant success, increases your likelihood of saving any remaining natural teeth, and even encourages new bone growth—all without bone grafts, growth factors, scalpels, or stitches. In fact, LANAP is the only laser treatment that has received FDA clearance for true regeneration of periodontal tissues. In other words, LANAP is the only scientifically proven treatment that regenerates soft and hard oral tissues, including the alveolar bone, gums, cementum, and periodontal ligament.

Whether you’re currently facing tooth loss or have already lost one or more teeth, Dr. Wilson is here to help you understand your options and create a healthy, beautiful smile that lasts for life. To discover how you can reclaim your oral health, function, and appearance, contact our office to schedule an appointment today.