When you love your smile, it can make all the difference in the world.
A great smile can provide confidence, comfort, and it can warm a room. But unfortunately, it is reported that up to 30% of people in North America are unhappy with their smile. For many of these individuals, they simply do not like to smile at all. But solutions are available, and one of the best options to create a perfect smile is dental implants.
When considering the option of dental implants, there is a lot to consider, and the research process yields a wide variety of questions…
What are dental implants, and how do they work?
What questions should I ask the dentist to ensure I will be happy with the results?
How do I know if my dentist is experienced and equipped to successfully perform the procedure?
What questions should I ask my dentist before the procedure?
How long is the recovery time, and what should I expect from the experience?
Are dental implants permanent?
At Pearl Dental in Burlington, Dr. Daniel Currie has more than 15+ years experience helping his patients achieve the smile of their dreams through single implants, bridge implants (multiple teeth), and All-on-4 dental implants – in which a completely new set of permanent teeth are implanted in a single day.
In this installment of #AskDrCurrie, we uncover everything you need to know when planning for a dental implant procedure.
What are Dental Implants?
Simply put, dental implants are a way to replace a tooth (or teeth) that are completely missing.
If your tooth (or teeth) break, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need an implant. If the root of your tooth is preserved, you may consider a root canal, a crown, or to cap the tooth. But if the whole tooth is gone, dental implants provide a practical solution that is permanent in nature.
The dental implant procedure has existed for over 50 years, but now the procedure has become much more predictable and versatile in terms of all the ways you can use an implant.
In the past, a dental implant may have been discoloured, the sizing could be off, or it may have looked different than your other teeth. But now dental implants are completely undetectable, and it is a procedure that can be used to replace a single tooth, a bridge (multiple teeth), or all of your teeth in a single session (All-on-4 dental implants).
This allows our patients to achieve a permanent solution that they will love in a single session, with minimized recovery time.
How do dental implants work?
Basically, you place the implant in the jaw bone. Many dentists will place this implant in a portion of the jaw where there is not currently a tooth. But there is also a more advanced procedure that we practice at Pearl Dental, and it drastically reduces recovery time.
This advanced technique is to place the implant in the area where the tooth has just been removed. This procedure requires a great deal of experience to ensure the implant will be placed appropriately, and will remain firmly secured.
While the procedure requires a more experienced and adept dentist, it can save the patient 4 – 5 months of recovery time because the entire procedure is completed in a single day.
Regardless of which way you do it, the next step is osseointegration. This is a process that takes 4 – 6 months for your body to secure the implant by growing bone in and around the implant.
Who are the right candidates for dental implants?
You are a good candidate for dental implants if you have teeth that are completely missing, and you do not want to wear a denture.
Implants offer a wide variety of benefits in comparison to dentures. This includes some major benefits related to lifestyle, aesthetics, and function.
In terms of lifestyle, you will never have to worry about your teeth falling out, they will not shift when you eat, they will not affect your speech, and they don’t come out at night because they are permanent.
With regards to aesthetics, dental implants allow our patients to achieve a confidence they didn’t think was possible. They will be the right size, colour, and they will create your perfect smile.
Lastly, dentures provide functional challenges that do not apply to implant patients. After all, dentures are something you have to think about every single day. It is a consideration when you eat, sleep, or travel. So dental implants provide our patients with peace of mind to live their life without concern for their teeth, or smile.
What questions should you ask before booking a dental implant procedure?
As with many things in life, experience matters. If you are considering dental implants, it is a very personal decision and you need to be comfortable with the individual that will be performing the procedure.
On that note, here are the questions that everyone should consider when selecting a dentist to perform a dental implant procedure.
How long have you been doing this? Experience is everything, and you want to ensure the individual is well prepared for all the scenarios that may occur during the course of your procedure, and in recovery.
It is also important to ask… How complicated is my specific case? The answer you receive will tell you a great deal about the individual you are speaking with. Will it be an easy procedure, or a difficult one? And why will it be easy or difficult? Each patient has different considerations, so it’s important to understand how the dentist will approach your specific circumstances.
Here is another important question to ask during your dental implant consultation… What will be done to make the dental implant procedure more predictable? From the patients perspective, one of the most important considerations is aesthetics – they want to make sure they look great afterwards. So you aren’t simply wanting an implant, you want teeth that will look natural and great.
To achieve this outcome, it requires surgical experience, cosmetic dental experience, and knowing how to manage gum tissue. So experienced dental surgeons will be able to lean on their experience to understand what can be done to limit any uncontrolled variables, and to ensure the procedure is predictable.
You will also want to discuss post procedure care (that’s something we address below).
What is the criteria for making a dental implant decision?
There are a variety of factors that go into making the decision to undergo a dental implant procedure.
On one hand, there is an emotional component. Perhaps the patient is fed up with their dentures, and they are ready for a permanent solution. Or maybe the patient lost a front tooth and they do not like the idea of a prosthetic. So in most cases, there is a personal moment, or event, that prompts the individual to want a permanent solution that will look fantastic.
From our perspective, the goal is to highlight that we are an experienced and professional group that cares. We take great care to understand the needs of the individual, and to understand what prompted them to come in for the consultation.
It is also important for our patients to understand that they will receive great care from the team at Pearl Dental. We will provide support throughout the process, and I give all my patients my cell phone number and they can call me if they have any issues at all.
And this speaks to the previous question… What happens if there is a problem or complication after the procedure? How will that be managed? Could there be any additional costs, or will you fix any potential problems free of charge?
For us here at Pearl Dental, there are no additional costs if problems arise. We will work diligently to address any potential issues immediately. And through experience, we’ve learned to mitigate potential issues in advance through thoughtful planning. So we always think a few steps ahead, we are prepared for issues that may arise, and our patients never have to worry about additional costs.
What is the outcome of the dental implant procedure?
There are two parts to the healing process.
The first part is the immediate swelling and discomfort after the procedure. This typically lasts a few days. The second part of the healing process is the implant itself, and this healing takes place over a 4 – 6 week period.
You don’t actually feel that healing process as it unfolds, but it is happening for every dental implant patient. So it is important to avoid chewing too hard in that area, brushing aggressively, and to generally remain mindful of the osseointegration process that is taking place.
So we focus heavily on post procedure care to ensure the implant heals correctly, and that the patient is comfortable.
What do you say to people that are nervous about the procedure?
Ironically, having an implant is typically less painful than having a tooth removed.
There is a psychological component because the idea of implanting something into your mouth sounds like it would be painful. But the reality is you have less pain after having an implant replaced than you do having a tooth removed because there is a primary closure – the gum tissue is not exposed.
For patients that experience anxiety at the dentist office, we offer sedation dentistry to ease that tension. Not everyone needs it, but if your only obstacle is getting over the worry of it, sedation is a helpful solution that alleviates those concerns.
For additional information, please contact Pearl Dental or give us a call at 905-637-1698.