As I mentioned last week, today’s blog will focus on the second most common way to restore a gap between teeth; Dental Implants. A dental implant is a titanium post that is surgically placed within the jawbone. In most cases implants are positioned below the gumline by an oral surgeon. The implant needs three to six months to heal and fuse to bone. We want to make sure the jawbone and your body is going to accept the implant before proceeding with the implant crown. If everything goes as planned in the healing process your dentist will remove the healing cap, fit an abutment to the implant, followed by the implant crown. Implants are beneficial because they do not have to be anchored to other teeth like a bridge. Implants can also be used in some cases to help support bridges and dentures in patients who do not have enough teeth or bone to keep them stable.
To be a candidate for an implant you must have healthy gums, and enough bone to support the implant. If you do not have enough bone sometimes an oral surgeon is able to do a bone graft before the implant is placed, this does add to the healing time and length of the implant process. If an implant is being placed on the maxilla (upper jaw) the oral surgeon will also need to make sure there is enough height and that the sinuses are not too close. If the sinuses are too close, a sinus lift may be needed before an implant can be placed. It’s also important to know before you invest in an implant that smoking is a major factor in the success of an implant. Smoking can weaken the bone causing an implant to fail. If you are a smoker and interested in an implant, I would recommend you stop smoking before spending the money on an implant.
Dental implants are durable and can last a lifetime as long as you take care of them. They require meticulous homecare and keeping up with your routine recalls with your hygienist. As a hygienist, I have a very specific recall protocol that I follow with my implant patients. There are certain products and instruments that I use, as well as recommend, that are safe for daily use with implants. If you already have implants some products I recommend for your daily homecare routine are; non mint, non waxed floss- working a criss-cross motion around the base of the implant, a WaterPik Waterflosser, a Sonicare electric toothbrush and daily Act fluoride rinse. All of my homecare instructions are specific to each of my implant patients but that is a general recommendation and place for you to start.