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Medically Reviewed by Lisa A. Turner, DDS, MSD

Dental implants solve the problem of missing teeth. A dental implant acts like a tooth root, surgically placed in your jaw. It is a base onto which replacement teeth are fixed. You can replace one missing tooth, several of them, or even all of your teeth. This permanent solution helps you chew naturally and smile confidently. There is no need to remove your teeth at night. With proper care, your dental implant could last you a lifetime.

How Do Dental Implants Work?

The dental implants are made of titanium, which is a safe, strong metal that does not react against living tissue. Dr. Lisa Turner will surgically insert the titanium post into your mouth. This is a common procedure, performed under local anesthesia. Depending on how many teeth you are replacing, there may be more than one implant. After the surgery, your mouth is given time to heal. You will receive temporary crowns or dentures to use during this time. As you heal, the implant actually fuses with the bone in your jaw, making it a very strong anchor for your replacement teeth. When the implants are fully stabilized, Dr. Turner will screw on your new, artificial teeth.

The Dental Implant Process

Here is the basic process you’ll undergo to get dental implants. There may be some differences in the process due to the uniqueness of each situation.

  • First Evaluation. Your periodontist will carefully examine your entire dental area to see if you are a good candidate for dental implants.
  • Surgical Procedure. The implant is surgically inserted into your jawbone. The periodontist will stitch up the small insertion areas with self-absorbing sutures. The surgery itself is painless, and any pain after the anesthesia wears off is usually relieved with over-the-counter pain medication.
  • Healing Time. Your mouth is allowed time to heal, and the implant becomes a natural part of your jaw. This may take several months.
  • Placement of the Abutment. The abutment, or the top part of the implant that connects to the new tooth, is tightened into place on the stabilized implant post. (Sometimes, this step can be done at the same time as the insertion of the post.)
  • Tooth is Attached. The new artificial tooth is screwed into place. If you are replacing multiple missing teeth, a partial or complete set of teeth will be screwed into the implants. The new teeth will be specially designed to match your natural teeth, so no one except your dentist will be able to tell the difference!

How to Care for Your Dental Implants

Because dental implants feel and act so much like natural teeth, taking care of them is pretty much the same. Keep them clean by brushing twice daily and also flossing. Use a soft, low-abrasive toothbrush. Your toothpaste should also be low-abrasive. Ask your dentist how often you should come in for professional cleanings. It will probably be every 3 to 6 months. Your dental professional will likely want to take an annual X-ray of your dental implants to check on their condition.
If your implants are not properly cared for, some problems may develop that result in bleeding in the gums, loss of gum tissue, and eventually bone loss. The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen to you is to brush and floss daily, and get regular professional dental exams.

Advantages of Getting Dental Implants

Getting dental implants does take a commitment. The posts are fixed permanently into your mouth, and the cost of the procedure is generally more than other dental procedures. However, there are some advantages that make it worth the time and investment.

  • Dental implants look like real teeth.
  • They are very durable and long-lasting.
  • They do not shift around in your mouth.
  • Speaking and eating should feel natural.
  • You can smile without feeling self-conscious about your teeth!

If you are considering dental implants to replace your missing teeth, please contact Venice Periodontics and Implant Dentistry. Dr. Lisa Turner will work with you to find the best tooth replacement option for your lifestyle and your needs.