What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root. It is implanted in the jawbone and holds an artificial tooth to replace a missing tooth. Dental implants are an alternative to dentures and missing teeth. However, where a denture replaces only the teeth, implants replace both the teeth and their missing roots. An implant looks like a screw and is made of titanium. That means it is biocompatible and not rejected by the body. The jawbone grows in closely around the titanium, incorporating it and making it a part of the bone tissue.
If you need more than one tooth replaced you can have two or more implants. Four implants can hold an entire arch of teeth — upper or lower. Eight can hold a mouthful of new teeth.
How would a dental implant help me?
An implant provides a permanent solution to a missing tooth and gives the replacement tooth a very strong foundation in the jawbone, just as a natural root does. If the missing tooth’s root is not replaced, there is a gap left inside the bone. To fill it, the bone tissue will gradually shrink into it, a process known as bone resorption. That would change your jawline and facial profile, giving you an older, shrunken look.
If you rely on a denture for replacing teeth, there will come a day when it cannot be fitted comfortably. That is because of bone resorption, and also as we age, the gums slowly recede and change their size and contours. But an implant is permanent and gives you a strong foundation for biting and chewing power, as well as holding an attractive, white new tooth.
Can dental implants replace more than one tooth?
Yes. A single implant can hold more than one tooth and you can have more than one implant. If you currently have a denture or a bridge and would like to have multiple teeth replaced using implants, it can be done in a customized way for you.
- Two or three implants can support a fixed bridge
- Four implants can support all the teeth in your upper or lower arch
- Eight implants can replace all the teeth, both upper and lower
You can also choose between a fixed bridge or a removable bridge that snaps onto the implant abutments. These options are all something to discuss with Dr. Konig.
How is a dental implant done?
Once you and Houston Implant Dentist, Dr. Konig have determined that dental implants are the best option, they are done in three visits: first placing the implant, then the abutment, then the tooth. However in many cases this can be done in one visit using a procedure called “Teeth in a Day”.
- In a dental procedure, Dr. Konig places the implant. The titanium implant is precisely positioned so that when its tooth is attached later on, it will fit correctly between its neighboring teeth. Usually 90 days is allowed for the bone to completely grow to the implant
- Bone tissue will grow around the implant, growing into the tiny circular ridges that run around the implant surface. That will create a strong foundation for your new tooth.
- When the bone is healed, Dr. Konig will attach a small piece to the top of the implant. This is the abutment, a stem to hold the tooth. Its lower end is attached to the implant beneath the gums. Its top end is visible above the gums.
- Your new tooth is attached to the abutment. Your tooth will have been made in our dental laboratory, according to Dr. Konig’s specifications, while you were having the implant and abutment placed.
There are seldom any problems or complications.
Does the implant procedure hurt?
No, you will have an effective local anesthetic to numb the entire area. Dr. Konig can prescribe a pain medicine for you to take after your procedure, although not everybody needs that. Over-the-counter painkillers are usually adequate. We also offer sedation dentistry. If you feel anxious and have trouble relaxing, we can give you an oral sedative to keep you calm during the procedure.
The healing period after your implant is placed is not as major as you might expect. Most people have little or no pain. You would want to eat soft foods at first until the gums heal. Dr. Konig will give you printed instructions for how to care for yourself during recovery.
How would I care for my dental implant?
The implant itself is hidden in the jawbone and requires no specific care. The visible tooth needs the same care you give your natural teeth – daily brushing and flossing to remove bacteria and food particles. If you come for your regular check-ups and professional cleaning, and practice good daily hygiene, your implant will serve you well indefinitely.
Dental implants are a sturdy and permanent way to restore lost teeth. If you have been living with gaps in your teeth, or dealing with dentures that never quite seem to feel right, implants can give you renewed peace of mind and self-confidence.
Also read our “Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?” page to learn more.
At the Konig Center for Cosmetic & Comprehensive Dentistry, we have a friendly and knowledgeable team and comfortable facility. If you would like to schedule a personal implant dentistry consultation with Dr. Konig, please contact our cosmetic dentistry office today. We are proud to serve the areas of Houston, Galveston, Sugar Land and Katy, Texas.