Dental implants are a permanent and reliable way to replace both missing teeth and their missing roots. They give both cosmetic benefits and health benefits, because in one procedure you can restore your smile and enhance your dental health. By preventing the jawbone from shrinking in to fill the root gap you are preserving your jawline and youthful facial shape.
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- Why Replace a Missing Tooth
- Advantages of Dental Implants
- Dental Implant Candidacy
- The Dental Implant Process
- Recovery from Dental Implants
- Special Types of Dental Implants
- Dental Implant Alternatives
- Call Dr. Greenhalgh Today
Why Replace a Missing Tooth
If left untreated, missing teeth can result in serious problems that affect your overall oral health. It is important for you to understand the risks you take by not replacing your missing teeth. Hopefully, this knowledge will compel you to take the appropriate action. The consequences are too severe to delay in replacing your missing tooth.
Problems Caused by Missing Teeth
A missing tooth can result in the following oral health problems:
- Other teeth may shift, causing alignment problems that may require orthodontic work
- The opposing tooth can drop into the empty space, placing your jaw and bite out of alignment and creating TMD or TMJ issues
- Remaining teeth must shoulder a heavier load, making them more prone to overload-fracture
- Remaining teeth are prone to gum recession
- You may have difficulty chewing
- Your jawbone will gradually shrink to fill the gap left by the lost tooth root. This can happen even within one year and you may need a bone graft to restore your jawline.
- Your smile will be affected, potentially leading to embarrassment in social situations.
- The front teeth could spread apart because of the increased pressure on them.
- If you are missing multiple teeth, there is a correlation with a risk for increased heart disease.
What Should I Do if I Have Missing Teeth?
Dr. Greenhalgh will perform a thorough examination to determine the cause of your tooth loss and to detect any shifting of remaining teeth. Dr. Greenhalgh will then recommend an appropriate treatment course that will help prevent the loss of other teeth. He may recommend the use of a night guard to prevent teeth grinding or periodontal treatments to improve your gum health.
You should also replace your missing tooth as soon as possible to prevent the development of the problems listed above. Depending on your unique oral health issues, Dr. Greenhalgh may recommend either dental implants or a dental bridge.
Advantages of Dental Implants
There are a lot of options for replacing missing teeth if you're looking to avoid the problems associated with a lost tooth. But put simply, dental implants are by far the best option for tooth replacement.
Dental implants offer a staggering set of advantages over dentures or other forms of tooth replacement. Traditional teeth replacement options achieve their goals, but they do not compare to the strength and durability of dental implants.
What Dental Implants Offer
Implants offer a number of advantages over traditional teeth replacement options, including:
- Strength and durability: Dental implants are made from strong, durable materials- namely, porcelain and titanium. And they are placed deep within your jawbone. This means your implants will be exceptionally durable and long-lasting. If you practice sound dental hygiene, your implants can last you for the rest of your life.
- Jawbone maintenance: One of the most frightening consequences of a lost tooth is the loss of jawbone density that's associated with it. Dental implants stop and reverse that degradation- they're placed in your jaw and slowly integrate with it. By contrast, dentures do nothing to affect the loss of jawbone density.
- Ease of maintenance: Many tooth replacement options are inconvenient or unpleasant and require significant maintenance. By contrast, dental implants can be maintained through the application of simple dental hygiene. Brush at least twice a day, floss daily and see your dentist at least twice a year and your implants will serve you well.
Dental implants have a high success rate, and they enjoy high levels of patient satisfaction as well because they look, feel and perform like your natural teeth.
Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants, and Dr. Greenhalgh will thoroughly evaluate your teeth and gums to ensure that you are a viable candidate. But if you are, dental implants almost certainly represent your best option for tooth replacement.
Dental Implant Candidacy
While dental implants are excellent tools for replacing missing teeth, it’s vital that you undergo a thorough examination to ensure you are a sound candidate for them. This is part of our larger commitment to the health and safety of our patients. Dr. Greenhalgh will never recommend you undergo a procedure that isn’t right for your needs.
An Ideal Candidate for Dental Implants
In order to get the full advantages of dental implants you have to possess a number of basic attributes. Fortunately, the vast majority of patients are good candidates for the procedure, and most people can readily accept dental implants.
A dental implant candidate:
- Has the necessary bone density in their jaws to support the implant roots
- Is in sound overall health with no active infections
- Does not suffer from gum disease
- Has a fully grown, matured jaw
- Does not grind his or her teeth (teeth grinding can endanger the integrity of dental implants)
- Doesn’t smoke
- Is not pregnant
One of the frequent stumbling blocks is the first item on that list, bone density in the jaw area. Some patients simply don’t possess enough bone material to support an implanted titanium support rod.
However, in many of these cases it’s possible for a patient to undergo a bone graft to fortify the jaw and make it strong enough for dental implants. This will add some time to the length of your procedure.
The Dental Implant Process
The dental implant procedure will result in you receiving a strong, durable replacement tooth that reverses loss of jawbone density. Dr. Scott Greenhalgh believes in being open and up front with you about every procedure, and that means detailing what you can expect from the process. When it comes to dental implant surgery, this means (in part) explaining why the process is particularly lengthy.
The Initial Design
Although we work with a specialist who will place your implant, the implant process starts in our office, and Dr. Greenhalgh will attach your new tooth after the implant has healed.
- The initial design or template we create is the most critical part of your dental implant procedure.
- We will make impressions of the area and then create a mock up of the new tooth or teeth.
Using that template, Dr. Greenhalgh will guide the specialist to the exact location where he needs the implants to be placed. For this reason we tell our patients "DO NOT let anyone put an implant in, until Dr. Greenhalgh has told them where it needs to be placed."
Dental Implant Simulations to Ensure the Finest Cosmetic Results
Dr. Greenhalgh regularly utilizes a variety of tools to simulate what your new smile will look like after your dental implant procedure. These tools allow you to preview your new smile before any work is done so that you can feel confident that the procedure will produce your desired outcome. They also enable Dr. Greenhalgh to perform your procedure with a greater degree of accuracy. By creating a replica of your teeth, Dr. Greenhalgh can determine the ideal location for an implant in order to achieve the finest aesthetic results.
In order to accomplish these goals, Dr. Greenhalgh may recommend one or more of the following in association with your procedure:
- Smile design/wax up
- Computer smile simulations or Smile-Vision
Placing Your Implant
The foundation of your replacement tooth will be a titanium "root." This is actually the implant part of a dental implant, and it will provide your replacement tooth with the kind of durable base of support it needs.
This support root is also why the implant process takes a while to complete. In an out-patient surgical procedure, the titanium implant will be placed in your jaw, and the "in your jaw" phrase here is important.
The durability of dental implants is in part about the high-quality materials used in their construction- titanium is, obviously, quite strong. But the other element at play is the location of your implant. By placing the implant directly in your jaw, our implant dentist ensures that it is firmly entrenched, providing the entire piece of dental work with excellent support.
But your jaw has to integrate the implant. This process is known as osseointegration and it usually takes between three and six months. Once osseointegration is complete your implant will essentially be a part of your jaw, providing your replacement tooth with a firm structure.
Attaching the New Tooth
After implant placement the gums are stitched closed or a small titanium cover is placed over the implant root. The exact implant healing time will be determined by the specialist. Once the initial healing is verified:
- Dr. Greenhalgh will begin with an impression of the implant root
- You will be leaving that day with the same cover over the implant
- A few weeks later you will return to the office for the final fitting. Dr. Greenhalgh will seat the "abutment" post (a small projection on the top of the implant) and tighten it to the implant.
- Then a tooth crown is fitted over the abutment.
This high-quality porcelain crown is custom-made for your specific needs. This means it will be shaped to fit with your surrounding teeth. It will also be tinted so that its color blends in and doesn't draw attention to itself.
This might sound like an extensive process, and it is. But our patients all say it was worth it to end up with a truly extraordinary tooth replacement.
Implant Tissue Management
There are two components to achieving highly aesthetic results with your dental restoration:
- The porcelain restoration being placed
- The way your gums sit around the restoration
In order to deliver the beautiful outcome you desire, Dr. Greenhalgh must create a harmony between these two components. Tissue management refers to the attention paid to your gum line in this process.
Tissue Management Considerations for Dental Implants
The gum tissue around a dental implant acts differently than the gum tissue around the adjacent natural teeth. You need to work with a cosmetic dentist who is skilled and experienced with addressing this different type of gum tissue.
After osseointegration (the process where your jawbone fuses to the dental implant) has been completed, Dr. Greenhalgh may use a temporary crown to push the gum tissue up or down so that it will match the appearance of the gum tissue on your adjacent natural teeth. At times, a temporary abutment and crown are used to steer the shape of the gum tissue.
In other situations, Dr. Greenhalgh may use a soft tissue laser with adjacent gum tissue to create the proper gum line. When appropriate, he may place porcelain veneers or dental crowns on adjacent teeth to support the gums correctly between the teeth.
Due to the variety of complex issues that must be addressed, it takes a cosmetic dentist who possesses both the technical skills and a keen artistic eye to achieve highly aesthetic results with gum tissue when placing dental implants. Dr. Greenhalgh has been performing dental implant procedures for more than 20 years and during that time, he has developed the experience necessary to provide you with the high quality results you deserve.
Recovery from Dental Implants
One of the questions we frequently hear from patients considering dental implant surgery is, “How long will I be out of commission?” After all, you’re a busy person, and you can’t afford to miss time at work or with your family recovering from dental implant surgery.
Every patient is unique, and Dr. Scott Greenhalgh will make sure you understand all of the details of the recovery process before you go home. However, recovery from a dental implant placement is rarely extensive, and many patients go right back to their lives after the procedure.
Conditions Affecting Recovery Time
When we talk about recovery from “dental implant surgery,” we are talking about the procedure in which titanium support roots are placed in your jaw. These take months to fully integrate into your jawbone so that they may provide strong support for the dental crowns placed on top.
As a result, there are some factors that will affect how quickly you can return to work after dental implant surgery. These include:
- The number of implants; multiple implants at once will require more extensive recovery
- The necessity of a bone graft; if your jawbone doesn’t have the density to support implants and a bone graft is required, recovery time is increased
If you have the required bone density and you only have one implant placed, recovery time is rarely extensive.
What to Expect After Getting Dental Implants
Some patients are usually capable of returning to work and their daily routine in the immediate aftermath of a dental implant procedure. However, most patients will need a day or two to recover.
After the implant surgery, you:
- Should arrange to have someone drive you home; it’s not safe to drive immediately after receiving anesthesia
- Might expect some bleeding and swelling in the implant area. This is temporary and doesn’t mean anything is wrong.
- Will experience some discomfort as the anesthesia wears off. This can usually be treated using an over-the-counter painkiller like Tylenol, though Dr. Greenhalgh might prescribe you stronger medication if he feels it reasonable.
- Will probably see your temperature rise a few degrees
As a general rule, single-implant placement does not require much of a recovery process. If you do need a take time off work or your normal routine it will only be a day or two.
Special Types of Dental Implants
You may have a large number of missing teeth or you might need a bone graft to make up a lack of bone density in your jaw. These problems could add many months to your dental implant procedure. Fortunately, however, Dr. Greenhalgh offers the innovative new All-On-4™ tooth replacement system.
With All-On-4, Dr. Greenhalgh can replace large numbers of missing teeth in one visit, using only four implants per jawbone.
The All-On-4 Procedure
In a traditional procedure to place dental implants, our Lakewood cosmetic dentist places a titanium support rod in your jawbone. We then wait several months for the implants to fully integrate into your jaw.
This provides your dental implants with a great deal of strength and stability, but this procedure requires a strong jawbone with a great deal of structural integrity. If your jaw lacks the required bone density, you’ll require a bone graft, which takes a long time itself to fully integrate into the jaw.
With the All-on-4 procedure, we can bypass all of these concerns, as well as those regarding potential discomfort associated with a large number of dental implants for those with many missing teeth.
The All-on-4 procedure works like this:
- After evaluating you to ensure that you are a good candidate for the All-on-4 procedure and answering all of your questions, we will begin by planting four titanium support structures in each jawbone. These implants are angled and come with a slight taper; this allows us to place them even if you lack sufficient bone density for dental implants.
- Then, we connect a dental bridge to the implants, giving you a temporary set of replacement teeth.
- We will then work with you to develop a permanent prosthetic option.
And that’s it. The process usually takes a day, though sometimes patients have to wait a week or so to get their replacement teeth. However, even this pales in comparison to the usual waiting time associated with dental implants.
Dr. Greenhalgh will work with you to determine if the All-On-Four procedure is the appropriate dental implant option for replacing your missing teeth.
Most dental implant procedures use a titanium abutment. However, due to the thinness of your gums in the lateral tooth region, the silver-colored titanium abutment has a tendency to show through the gum tissue, giving off a gray appearance.
In order to achieve a more natural result, Dr. Greenhalgh recommends using a zirconia abutment when replacing a missing lateral. Zirconia abutments are white-colored and therefore will not produce a gray tint on your gums.
While zirconia abutments are most commonly used when replacing a lateral tooth, they can also be used on any teeth in the smile zone.
It is not uncommon to be born without a lateral tooth (the tooth located next to your top front tooth). Fortunately, this condition is easily corrected. If you would like to replace a missing lateral tooth, Dr. Greenhalgh can provide you with the care you need.
Ideal candidates to replace a missing lateral tooth are teenagers who are planning on receiving orthodontic treatment. Dr. Greenhalgh will work closely with your orthodontist to make sure a gap is kept open so that a dental implant can be placed at a later date. Dr. Greenhalgh has performed this procedure many times, and he will make sure the gap left after your teeth are straightened will be adequate to house the implant.
Zirconia as a material possesses the necessary strength and durability to achieve very high quality results with your dental implant restoration. Your zirconia abutment will be created through a CAD/CAM process; it is computer designed and computer milled to help achieve customized results. Dr. Greenhalgh has found that zirconia abutments provide you with comparable quality and durability compared with titanium abutments while offering the added benefit of a more aesthetically pleasing restoration.
Dental Implant Alternatives
Dental implants are the closest a tooth replacement can come to looking, feeling and functioning like a real tooth; however, no single solution is right for everyone, and you may be wondering about dental implant alternatives, namely dental bridges and dentures.
Dr. Greenhalgh is interested in helping you find the treatment that works best for your missing teeth. If you will benefit most from a dental bridge or denture, Dr. Greenhalgh can provide these restorations.
This type of restoration creates a bridge of sorts across the space left by your missing tooth. There are several different types of dental bridges, but the most traditional type consists of an artificial tooth supported on either side by a dental crown.
The artificial tooth sits in the space of the missing tooth, and the dental crowns are placed over the surrounding teeth.
If a dental bridge is right for you, some of the benefits of this restoration include:
- Replaces one or more missing teeth.
- Dental crowns stabilize and secure replacement tooth.
- Can be combined with dental implants for best stabilization.
Dental bridges can also be adapted to replace teeth that have a supporting natural tooth on one side only.
For some patients, dentures are the right option. Dentures offer an affordable way to replace missing teeth. There are full and partial dentures available. Full dentures replace all of the teeth on the upper or lower dental arch, and partial dentures replace several missing teeth.
As an alternative to dental implants, dentures can be right for some people. It is worth noting dentures do have certain disadvantages, which you should consider when choosing the right way to replace teeth. These disadvantages include:
- May make clicking sounds while you speak.
- May make it difficult to speak well.
- Have a tendency to slip out of place.
Dental implants are not associated with these disadvantages because the implant is securely placed beneath your gums. Nonetheless, dentures remain the right choice for some of our patients.
The Right Way to Replace Missing Teeth
Because each patient is different, we provide dental implants, dental bridges and dentures at Dr. Greenhalgh's practice. Although we have found that our patients with dental implants are exceedingly satisfied with their tooth replacement choice, your treatment preferences may be different.
Considering your expectations of cost, functionality, comfort and longevity, Dr. Greenhalgh can help you choose the right treatment option for you.
Call Dr. Greenhalgh Today
If you would like an implant dentistry consultation to find out more about dental implants. Please call 303-988-9060 today and we will be happy to schedule your appointment. Our office serves Denver, Lakewood, all surrounding areas of Colorado.