Not too long ago, dental patients who found themselves missing teeth had fairly limited treatment options to choose from. Depending on their individual case, dentures, partials, or bridges were the only solutions available. However, modern dental implants have been a game-changer! For almost fifty years now, implants have been the standard treatment option to give patients a safe, long-lasting way to restore their smile. Whether you’re missing one tooth or all your teeth, Scott Edwards, DDS, can help enhance the appearance of your smile, make it easier for you to eat what you want, and even improve your speech. For everything you need to know about the dental implants that we offer, keep reading below!
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are used to replace a single missing tooth, multiple missing teeth, a floppy denture, or an entire upper or lower arch. They are crafted from titanium alloy, since this material is highly compatible with and safe in the body. The implants are attached to the jaw to fully anchor the new teeth in place.
Once the implant area has healed, a small connector called an abutment is attached to the implant to hold the new tooth. At this point in the process, our team will use digital scanned impressions of your teeth to create a model of your mouth (without goopy impression materials). The new tooth, also known as a crown, is then attached. Crowns often look as natural as your own teeth do, including the color and design shape, so they’re able to blend with your natural smile.
Our experienced and highly trained dentists will create a customized plan to help you chew and smile better, as well as look and feel more confident! This plan will document all aspects of care including the surgical and restorative implant phases. Because Dr. Scott Edwards and Dr. Julia Prince have extensive training in this procedure, you will not need to visit multiple offices to complete the process.
What does the dental implant procedure involve?
A dental implant procedure is normally conducted in three separate phases: the initial placement, impression, and delivery of the final tooth abutment and crown. Because every case is individualized and each patient responds in their own way, the length of the process can range from 3 months to 9 months, especially if bone grafting needs to occur due to bone loss. While this may seem lengthy, the long-term success of implants actually depends on giving your body adequate time to heal and accept the implant before concluding treatment.
Phase 1- Implant Planning & Records
Once you decide that you are interested in dental implant treatment, we will examine the bone structure around the missing tooth or teeth by taking a CBCT, which is a 3-D scan of your jaws. If the tooth is only partially missing, the remaining tooth structure will be removed at the time of the procedure.
The proper bone height, width, and density is necessary to properly place an implant so that the final outcome is as similar to a natural tooth as possible. If there is not adequate bone, then grafting may be required prior to placing the implant. Grafting is a bit like spackling, so if this is necessary, you will need to wait a few months for the area to heal before moving on to the second phase. If bone grafting is not required, Phase Two could be initiated within the same session.
Phase 2- Implant Placement
During this stage of the treatment process, the dental implant will be inserted into the predetermined location based on digital planning with the 3-D CBCT scan prior to the surgery. This procedure usually lasts around 1-2 hours, and you’ll need to let the area heal for a few months. We will schedule you for regular check-ups with Dr. Edwards or Dr. Prince during this period.
Phase 3- Implant Restoration
This final phase is what we call implant restoration. Depending on which best fits your individual needs, our doctors will restore either a natural-looking dental crown on top of the abutment which is attached to the implant itself or a sturdy fixed bridge to the implant posts. If you need a full arch replacement or your denture replaced then the entire teeth restoration will be attached to the implants. Regardless of the specific situation, your implants are the closest things possible to natural teeth, restoring functionality and greatly improving the appearance of your smile!
Why should you choose to replace missing teeth with dental implants?
We occasionally have a patient ask us why they should replace a missing tooth, especially in cases where it’s not particularly noticeable or causing any immediate problems. The truth is that sudden changes in your bite, like missing teeth, can cascade into other issues including crowding, gaps between the teeth, or bone loss. When a tooth is missing, the other teeth along the same gum line will begin to shift inward to close the gap left behind by the missing tooth. This can alter the way your top and bottom rows of teeth fit together and also affects the long term health with the bone loss around the adjacent teeth.
Like many things in life, small dental issues can become much bigger problems if left untreated over time. For this reason, we recommend replacing a missing or partially missing tooth as soon as possible. Working with our team can help prevent you from experiencing the time and expense of major reconstructive dental work in the future.
What are the specific benefits of dental implants?
Unlike other available options, a dental implant replaces the entire tooth, up to and including the root. In its capacity to function like a natural tooth, an implant can offer many advantages over the alternatives. These include:
Feel good and look good- The biggest benefit is that you will be able to eat what you want with a confident smile! You’ll never have to worry about food getting under partials or your dentures moving around. Additionally, having all your back teeth allows you to properly chew your food and takes the stress off your front teeth, keeping them from wearing down prematurely.
Durability – Most patients who are vigilant about their oral hygiene can expect their implants to last a long time.
High rate of success – Dental implants are fully successful in 95-98% of cases.
Natural appearance – Dental implants are designed to look and feel like a natural tooth. Crowns can also be made with all-ceramic materials that match the appearance of your natural teeth. When you smile, no one will ever know that they’re not your real teeth!
Improved oral and digestive health – Because it integrates into the jawbone seamlessly, a dental implant won’t increase your risk for tooth decay or sensitivity like dental bridges sometimes can. Being able to chew your food properly with all your teeth also allows for better digestion and less digestive complications.
Improved jawbone strength – Since they don’t rely on support from the adjacent teeth, dental implants can keep your jawbone strong, and, because it’s needed to support the implant, your jawbone won’t lose bone density either.
What is the recovery process like with dental implants?
Following a dental implant procedure, you may experience some slight discomfort and inflammation for a few days after the area heals. At Scott Edwards, DDS, we use dental lasers before, during, and after the procedure that minimize inflammation and discomfort! Applying ice packs will help reduce any residual swelling along with taking the medication we have prescribed properly. We recommend a soft diet to minimize chewing after the procedure has been completed for a few weeks.
Caring for your dental implants
It’s important to care for and maintain your dental implants the same way you would your natural teeth. You should be brushing twice a day, for at least two minutes each time, and flossing or using Waterpik flossers every night.
A solid dental routine will help ensure the longevity of your implants and investment, so be sure you’re coming in for regular hygiene cleanings and oral cancer screenings every six months.
How long will a dental implant last?
While it will depend somewhat on your age, your overall oral health, and a few other factors, dental implants typically last a very long time. Compared to other teeth replacement options, implants have an established track record of long-term stability.
By scheduling regular check-ups with our office and maintaining an excellent oral hygiene routine at home, you can help ensure your implant or implants will stay strong and healthy over many years.
Restore your smile and increase your self-confidence with dental implants from Scott Edwards, DDS
Dental implants can be an ideal permanent solution for missing or partially missing teeth. Once you’ve completed the process, they really are no different from your own teeth in terms of function and appearance. Unlike dentures, partials or bridges, which can sometimes contribute to bone and tissue degradation over time, implants help to keep your bone and gum tissue healthy and strong.
If you have missing teeth or are experiencing issues with smiling or eating, don’t miss out for another minute! We can help you smile with confidence AND eat all the foods you want with dental implants. Schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you have a missing tooth, multiple missing teeth, or a denture that doesn’t fit well, and let us determine if you’re a candidate for this treatment option TODAY.
If you’re in Memphis and want to learn more about how dental implants can improve your oral health and quality of life, contact us today to schedule a consultation. We would love to meet you, and show you everything we have to offer when it comes to creating lasting, healthy, and beautiful smiles!