Of all the ways modern dentistry has to replace missing teeth, dental implants are by far the best. Implants have a documented success rate of nearly 98%, which is significantly higher than any other tooth-replacement option. There is no tooth-replacement option that will give you a longer-lasting result. Implants help preserve bone that supports the tooth. If teeth are not replaced, the supporting bone naturally deteriorates. Loss of bone is one of the major hidden consequences of losing teeth.
A dental implant often involves titanium supports that are surgically implanted into the
jawbone to anchor natural-looking fabricated teeth (crowns). A dental implant may replace an individual tooth, or multiple teeth as an alternative to dentures. Drs. Hunsinger and Tran will review the procedure and process with you to answer all of your questions.
The surgical procedure used to place an implant is best performed by an oral surgeon. Dr. John Tran in our office has placed many implants with great success. His patients do well with local anesthesia, which is also a testament to his gentle manner and experience. After a healing period, your dentist, will expertly place a crown over the implant to become your new tooth. Dr. Hunsinger customizes your crown for the best fit and match to your natural teeth.
Dr. Hunsinger and Dr. Tran team together in our Bethesda dental office to provide excellent service to patients in need of dental implants. Dental implants are increasing in popularity and gaining insurance coverage. Our Bethesda practice can give you options to help you determine the choice that is best for you.
Advantages of Dental Implants
- Implants closely resemble your natural teeth
- Fusion of the implants into your jaw bone increases stability and comfort as compared to traditional dentures which can become loose and cause discomfort
- Adjacent teeth are kept intact and healthy - no grinding down as is needed for dentures
- Implants last a lifetime
- Success Rate - 98%
- Financial - Review with your dentist and oral surgeon
- Time - The entire process may take 6 months or more, depending upon your bone density, the number of teeth, and overall health
Types of Implants
Your dentist and oral surgeon will gladly explain the types of implants and timelines to help you determine what is right for you. We use implants from the most reputable and researched implant manufacturers. Using a lesser known implant company can increase the risk of failure, infection, fractures, and poor healing.
- Root Form Implant: the most common type of implant, shaped like the root of a tooth
- Plate Form Implant:A plate form implant; flat, long shape, best suited for a narrow jawbone
- Subperiosteal Implant: In some cases when there is not enough bone width or height for the root form or plate form implant, a subperiosteal implant may work best; this implant is designed to sit on top of the bone and under the gums
How Implants Work
During a minor surgical procedure, your dental implant is inserted directly into the jawbone in the space vacated by the missing tooth. It will then be left to heal for a period of months before the final crown is attached. During this healing period, the surrounding bone fuses to the implant, which makes it stable.
Tooth Replacement Options Using Dental Implants
Implants can replace missing teeth in a variety of ways. They can be used to:
Replace One Tooth — When you have one tooth missing, a single implant is inserted into the bone to replace the root part of that tooth; a crown then goes on top to simulate an actual tooth. This treatment choice has the highest success rate, making it the best long-term investment for replacing a single missing tooth. Even if the initial cost is slightly higher than other options, it is the most cost-effective solution over time. An implant will never decay or need root canal treatment, and feels just like the tooth that was there.
Replace Multiple Teeth — When you have more than one tooth missing, implants provide an ideal replacement mechanism. You don't need one implant for every missing tooth. Instead, implants can act as supports for fixed bridgework. For example, if you are missing three teeth next to one another, we can place two implants, one on either side of the gap, and a crown in between (without the implant portion under it). This will save your remaining natural teeth from acting as bridge supports, which can weaken them and make them more susceptible to decay.
Replace All Teeth Permanently — Implants can support an entire arch of upper or lower replacement teeth that are fixed into the mouth and are never removed. Sometimes the new teeth can be supported by as few as 4 implants. It's comparable to the structure of a table, which only needs 4 legs to hold it up. In cases where jawbone density and volume have deteriorated, 5 or 6 implants might be needed to support a row of 10 to 12 teeth. Dental implant replacement teeth protect your jawbone, won't slip, and should last a lifetime.
Support Removable Dentures — Implants can make removable dentures more comfortable, effective and healthier to wear. Traditional dentures rest on the gums and put pressure on the underlying bone. This accelerates bone loss, causing the jaw to shrink and dentures to slip. Today, dentists can attach a removable denture to implants and transfer the pressure to the bone structure rather than on the bone surface. This preserves the bone and prevents the dentures from slipping while you eat and speak.
Implant Care and Maintenance
There are only two ways an implant can lose attachment to the bone and fail once it has successfully fused: poor oral hygiene or excessive biting forces. Poor oral hygiene and/or a lack of regular cleanings can lead to a destructive bacterial infection called peri-implantitis. Flossing and brushing teeth daily, along with regular professional cleanings, can prevent this. Excessive biting forces come from a habit of clenching or grinding teeth, or from an insufficient number of implants to handle the forces of your bite. It is important that you receive the correct number of implants so this does not happen. And, if you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, a nightguard is recommended. Implants are a long-term investment in your smile, your health and your well-being. We encourage you to protect your investment!