If you are missing one or more of your natural teeth and are interested in a long-lasting, durable alternative to partial dentures or dental bridges, a dental implant from Dr. Jessica Kim may be just what you need.
Dental implants consist of two basic components. The implant itself is a small, titanium screw that is placed during oral surgery and acts as a replacement root. Titanium has the unique ability to bond with your jaw tissue, so the implant will permanently attach to your jaw bone after it’s been placed.
The second component is the restoration. The most common type of implant restoration is a dental crown, which is typically made out of porcelain, and is shaped to look just like a natural tooth. A single dental crown can be attached to an implant to restore one missing tooth.
However, multiple implants can also be used to support full-arch dentures or dental bridges, which replace the entire upper arch, lower arch, or both arches of teeth as an alternative to traditional dentures.
It’s common for dental implants to last 30 years or longer, and most patients will keep their implants for the rest of their lives. Dental implants also will never shift or move when speaking or eating, so they look and feel more natural than traditional dentures.
Perhaps most importantly, dental implants support the strength of your jaw bone. When you lose a natural tooth, the jaw bone is no longer stimulated by the pressure of chewing and biting, so it weakens in a process called “bone resorption.” Over time, this can negatively affect your appearance and cause you dental pain.
Dental implants counteract bone resorption by stimulating the jaw just like a natural tooth, since they’re placed directly into your gum and jaw tissue. This prevents bone loss, and keeps your jaw strong and healthy. No other type of dental restoration, including dentures and dental bridges, can do this.
After you’ve been approved for treatment, Dr. Kim will schedule your implant placement appointment, and begin developing a surgical plan based on your x-rays and other information gathered during your consultation.
At your implant placement, Dr. Kim will clean and numb your mouth, create an opening in your gum and jaw tissue, and place your implant in the proper location. The area will be disinfected and sutured shut, and you’ll be sent home to heal.
It only takes 1-2 weeks to recover from your initial surgery, but it will take 3-6 months or longer for your jaw bone to fully bond with the implant. During this time, you’ll come in for several follow-ups so that Dr. Kim can check on your healing progress, and begin crafting your implant restoration.
Once your mouth has fully healed and your implant restoration has been crafted, you’ll come in for your final appointment. Dr. Kim will ensure the restoration fits perfectly, then bond it into place permanently, restoring your smile.
If you have a single-tooth dental implant, all you need to do is brush and floss normally, and see Dr. Kim for a six-month cleaning and oral exam. There are no other special care precautions required.
Full-arch bridges and dentures require a bit more special care, but are still easy to clean and maintain, ensuring that your new smile will be both beautiful and convenient. Dr. Kim will provide you with comprehensive instructions on full-arch implant care after you receive your bridge or denture.