Nothing can make you look older as quickly as missing teeth. Once a tooth is lost, you begin to lose bone as well. That bone loss can cause your facial structure to collapse, your lips to sink and your chin to point upward. Severe bone loss also can lead to pinched nerves between dentures and bone, which can be painful.
Dental implants help prevent bone loss by acting as tooth roots and integrating with the jawbone. This helps keep the bone healthy and intact by preventing bone loss. The bone develops around the implant, effectively making the implant become one with the bone. The implant is made out of titanium and looks like a screw, explained Dr. Faddy Makaryus, a dentist in Clearwater, Florida who offers services including crown lengthening, dental implant placement and restoration, bone grafting, extractions, root canal therapy and more.
"It sounds like it should be painful, putting a screw into the bone, but it actually isn’t," said Dr. Makaryus. "I've had patients who are in their eighties and they get four to six implants at a time. They take an over-the-counter medication like Motrin and they’re fine. What hurts is leaving a hole in the bone. But if you make a hole and fill it, you may have some soreness, but it's usually manageable with medication."
Once the implant is in place, it will take a few months for the implant to integrate with the bone. It typically takes three months for an implant on the bottom jaw to integrate, and four months for an implant on the top to integrate.
The dental implant will help strengthen your mouth by preventing bone loss. Depending on your situation, your dentist will recommend one of several options to restore a natural-looking smile.
If you’re missing one tooth, then you can get an implant and a crown. The dentist will match the shade of the crown to the other teeth in your mouth. There are several different kinds of crowns to choose from; your dentist can explain which one is best-suited for you.
Once it's in place, it will look and feel just like a natural tooth. You brush it like normal and should floss in between the implant and the teeth on other side, just like usual. The good news is that the implant can never decay because it’s made of metal. You won’t have to worry about cavities. You just need to keep the gums healthy around it.
If you're missing a few teeth, then your dentist may suggest a bridge. A bridge is a series of prosthetic teeth that are cemented into place. The anchor teeth at either end sit over real teeth or implants; the prosthetic tooth or teeth in the middle are not secured to the jawbone, but rather are permanently cemented to the adjacent teeth.
If you're missing all of your teeth on the top or the bottom, then you may want to have an implant-secured denture. It clamps onto the implants, providing a comfortable, stable and secure fit that doesn't require messy adhesives. The denture reduces pain and gum irritation and allows patients to speak and chew more easily. Best of all, it looks and feels more like natural teeth.
If you have lost one or more teeth, implants can strengthen your jawbone, keep your face from sagging, enable you to eat and talk more easily, and, if capped with a crown, bridge or denture, will give you a beautiful, natural-looking smile. It can be a life-changing procedure for a patient, even someone who had dentures for years. Talk to your dentist about the best option for you.
Faddy Makaryus, DMD, has been a practicing dentist since 2006. He provides general dentistry services to patients age 8 and older. His services include crown lengthening, dental implants and restorations, bone grafting, extractions, periodontal disease management, ridge augmentation, root canal therapy, sinus lift and surgical treatment of oral cancer. His office is located at 23680 U.S. Highway 19 N, Clearwater, FL 33765.
Written By: Beth Gaddis
Reviewed By: Faddy Makaryus, DMD
Reviewed By: Charbel Klaib, DMD
Reviewed By: Cindy Roark, DMD