Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about dental implants:
Q: How will I know if I’m healthy enough for dental implants?
A: An implant consultation can be performed to evaluate your mouth for the potential of using dental implants. Our office uses a clinical exam and an x-ray exam in order to determine your ability to receive implants. This exam is also an opportunity to discuss what type of implant replacement will work best for you. The x-ray exam will be able to show how much bone is present in the locations where you will need the implants installed.
Q: How long do implants last?
A: Long-term research studies have shown that implants which have been installed into solid bone can typically last for the patient’s entire lifetime. However, some dental implants can fail if the quality of the bone was not acceptable. This can cause bite stress for implants and can contribute to a new implant being required.
Q: Can my body rejecting the implant?
A: Rejection of the implant is very unlikely and most are successful. Dental implants are different than organ transplants since the implant is placed directly into bone. Success of the implant does depend on a few factors including the patient’s commitment to proper hygiene and preventative maintenance. As with other dental treatments, patients should receive regular follow-up care to ensure long-term success of the implant.
Q: How do implants attach to the jaw?
A: Implants attach to the jaw bone by a process known as osseo-integration. The length of time required for this process varies with the quality of bone that is present at the base of the implant.
Q: How much pain can I expect to experience?
A: There should be very little pain when the implants are installed. In most cases, a local anesthetic is all that is needed to quell pain. The amount of pain also depends on the number of implants placed, as well as their location in the mouth.
Q: How long does the dental implant process take?
A: The implant procedure is typically divided into three phases:
After a detailed evaluation and treatment plan, placement of the implants occurs. This procedure is typically completed during a single visit to the doctor’s office and most implants will remain covered, underneath the gums, for 3 to 6 months. Osseointegration occurs during this period, with the biological bonding of the jawbone to the implant. During this healing period, you will probably wear your modified denture or a temporary denture or bridge and a modified soft diet will be recommended for the first couple of weeks.
The second phase of treatment is typically 3-6 months after implant placement. To begin this phase, the top of the implants are uncovered from under the gums and a small metal post will be attached to the implant(s). We will also make any necessary adjustments to your denture or bridge so you can continue wearing them.
In the third phase, which normally starts 2-6 weeks after the second phase, your new replacement teeth will be created and fitted. This phase may require a series of appointments where we make impressions of your mouth and allow you to try your replacement teeth to make sure the size, shape, fit and color are right. Total treatment time for most implant cases is typically 5-8 months, possibly longer if bone or gum procedures are needed.
Q: Do implants require special care?
A: The care required to maintain your implants is not much different than your normal oral hygiene care. Be sure to brush your teeth and floss regularly. If there are any hard to reach places around your implants, SuperFloss or any floss with a stiff thread will allow you to clean those tough to reach places.
Q: Can I still wear my dentures after having implants installed?
A: Post-surgical swelling may interfere with the wearing of full or partial dentures immediately after surgery. The patient may want to wait until after the swelling has gone down to wear their dentures again. Each individual case is different, so this should be discussed with your implant surgeon.