More than 36 million people in the United States no longer have any of their natural teeth. About 120 million are missing at least one tooth.
When you’re missing a tooth or multiple teeth, a dental implant is the next-best thing to regrowing the tooth (which, unfortunately, is impossible at this point). Unlike dentures or even a bridge, a dental implant mimics both the look and function of an individual tooth.
If possible, you should choose a dental implant over other tooth-replacement systems. Dental implants don’t just look almost identical to a natural tooth, they perform many of the same jobs, too.
A dental implant restores your smile and allows you to chew normally, while preserving the health of your jawbone and the look of your lower face. When you choose a dental implant to replace a single tooth or many implants to replace multiple teeth, the implants transmit stress to your jawbone when you chew. That stress signals your jawbone to create strong new bone cells.
Unfortunately, not everyone can enjoy the benefits of natural-looking, health-preserving dental implants. At AB Dental and Oral Surgery in San Antonio, Texas, our expert dentist, Anthony D. Osei, DDS, PhD, recommends dental implants whenever possible.
Are you a candidate for dental implants? The following questions may help you decide.
To be a candidate for dental implants, your teeth, gums, and alveolar (jaw) bone tissue must be healthy, strong, and free from infection or disease. Even if you’re sure that you want dental implants, your dentist must be sure, too.
That’s why every dental implant consultation begins with an in-depth examination of your teeth, gums, bone, and soft oral tissues. If your dentist detects signs of an infection or oral cancer, they first treat that condition before considering you for dental implants.
Your natural teeth are set deeply into your alveolar bone. Your dental implants are also set deeply into your jaw. You must have enough bone to support them.
A dental implant is a three-part device. The implant itself is made of titanium and is shaped like a screw. Dr. Osei drills into your jawbone and then inserts the implant post. Over the next 6-12 weeks, your alveolar bone grows around and bonds to the post, securing it firmly so it won’t move when you chew.
However, if you don’t have strong, healthy alveolar bone, you don’t necessarily have to give up your dream of implants. We may be able to graft bone or cartilage from other parts of your body to create a sturdier jawbone. The grafting process may add weeks to your treatment time.
A dental implant is a significant investment, but it does more than replace your missing tooth. It restores your smile in the most natural way possible. Because each each implant is in the form of an individual tooth, dental implants look exactly like real teeth.
Once your jawbone fuses with the implant post, we top it with an abutment cap and then attach a crown, which mimics the look of a tooth above the gum line. We give you a temporary crown while creating a customized permanent crown.
When your implant procedure is completed, your smile will look as if you had a full mouth of natural teeth. We even match the color and shape of the implants to your natural teeth. Implants have the benefit of being stain resistant, too, so you don’ t have to worry about whitening them.
Once your implants are in place and crowned, you treat them just as if you were born with them. Brush and floss at least twice a day. Come to see us for a professional cleaning at least twice a year (a bit more often directly after your implants), and whenever you notice a change in your teeth or gums.
You don’t have to worry about removing your implants; you simply can’t! They don't require special solutions, either. Just regular toothpaste will do.
With proper care and good oral health, your dental implants can last a lifetime. When you choose implants, you choose long-term oral health, convenience, and a natural smile.