Most people are good candidates for replacing missing teeth with dental implants. Those who have implants will tell you that they are the next best thing to having their natural teeth back. Many will even say that they like their implants better because they can’t get cavities! Before you decide, here are a few factors for you to consider:
How Fast Results Are Needed
Certain dental implants can immediately bear the load of an artificial tooth (called a crown), but many are a two-step process. Step one involves placing the implant post below the gums and allowing the surrounding bone to accept this new “root”. Step two involves attaching the crown to the top of the implant and typically takes 12 weeks post-surgery, depending on the type of implant used and the speed of healing (called osseointegration).
Whether you need a permanent or a more immediate solution, Grand Parkway Smiles can help! Implants are often the preferred long-term path, but we also offer short-term solutions that might involve a flipper, partial, denture or bridge. An open conversation with one of our dentists can help you decide.
Your Current Oral Health Status
If your gums are pink and come to a beautiful flat point between each tooth, then you may be in good shape; however, if your gums are red and inflamed or “rolled” looking between the teeth, you may be dealing with gingivitis or even periodontal disease. Either inflammatory condition would need to be addressed prior to starting the implant process.
A visit to GPS to see one of our highly trained dental hygienists will allow for a thorough periodontal (gum) evaluation. Readings will be taken with a periodontal probe and clinical observations will be made to determine the health of your gums. Radiographs will also be taken and examined to check for healthy bone levels. Both the hygienist and dentist will discuss your current oral health status and make recommendations for any needed improvements. Follow-up may include anything from a standard cleaning appointment to a more involved deep cleaning called scaling and root planning or periodontal therapy.
Your mouth must be healthy and infection-free prior to any implant surgery. We are always here to help you make sure that your mouth is a healthful place that can accept implants without problems. Regardless of your status, a customized plan will be developed for you, and every measure will be taken to make sure that your gums are at their very best before any implants are placed.
History of the Potential Implant Location
If the location to place the implant has had a missing tooth for an extended period of time, or if you have had a history of periodontal disease, the bone level in the desired implant area may not meet requirements. This can often be corrected with bone grafting but can occasionally disqualify you from having implants placed altogether.
Your dentist at Grand Parkway Smiles will carefully evaluate your specific status with a special 3D image that will also verify that there are no other issues with anatomy (like nerves or sinuses that are too close to an implant location). Every patient is unique, and while there are solutions for pretty much every concern – sinuses can often be lifted and extra bone can be added where needed – there is no one-size-fits-all plan. Your individual needs will be addressed by your dentist and a customized care plan will be delivered at your initial consultation.
Alignment of Existing Teeth
Consideration also has to be made as to how an implant will line up with existing teeth and other implants. Our Richmond Tx implant dentist will examine your mouth and radiographs to look at spacing and occlusion concerns.
For example, if you are interested in replacing an upper molar, but there is not an opposing tooth on the lower arch, an implant would probably not be recommended (unless you are adding one to the bottom, too). Teeth work best in pairs and stimulate blood flow to the area when they touch. Good blood flow helps to maintain the needed bone level to support natural teeth and implants, so this is a very important consideration upfront. At Grand Parkway Smiles, we complete the most thorough exam possible to increase the predictability that an implant will be successful.
Number of Missing Teeth
No matter how many teeth you are missing (even all of them!), there are options for you to consider.
If one arch is completely edentulous (has no teeth at all), you may consider something called an implant-supported denture (or over-denture). While traditional dentures have a bad reputation of wanting to “float” up, an over-denture remains securely attached (usually to four or five implant posts), and patients report a regained ability to eat and smile without fear of slipping teeth. Of course, you may still have the option of multiple single implants which is more of an investment up front, but avoids the use of a denture.
All options will be discussed at your consultation, and the staff at Grand Parkway Smiles will be happy to answer your questions. We will provide all treatment plan options with pricing to help you make the best informed decision and avoid surprises down the road.
Other Health Issues
Patients with certain health issues (like heavy smoking, severe periodontal disease, poor oral hygiene, diabetes, cancer, osteroporosis, or osteonecrosis) or those undergoing certain treatments (like radiation) or receiving certain medications (like chemotherapy, biophosphonates, anti-RANKL drugs, or long-term steroids) may need to delay or avoid having implants.
Those at high risk for complications will be given other recommended treatment plans at their initial consultation. Also, patients who grind their teeth are at greater risk for implant failure as unprotected grinding could loosen the implant. The possibility of wearing a nightguard should be discussed.
At Grand Parkway Smiles, we offer customized solutions for replacing missing teeth including dental implants. We are ready to listen to your needs and expectations. Several sedation options are also available to ensure a relaxed, comfortable, and pain-free visit. Please call us today to schedule your initial consultation.