1. What might be some of the factors that would prevent me from being an implant candidate?
An implant replaces the missing root of a tooth and provides an option for patients who do not want a bridge or partial denture. To be a candidature for an implant you should have a thorough exam and health history to evaluate the basic requirements of bone present, sinus location and nerve location. In the exam your dentist should evaluate whether you have adequate bone in the area of the missing tooth to be able to provide the implant with enough support or anchorage. Also sinus locations on the patient’s upper jaw need to be evaluated before preparing a site for a dental implant. A sinus lift (movement of a low sinus) would be required in instances where the amount of bone found in a patient’s upper jaw is inadequate for implant placement as well. Finally, a good panoramic x-ray should be able to give the dentist a picture of where major nerve locations are present and where implants can and cannot be placed in your mouth.
2. How often will I need to have my dental implants checked?
Dental implants should be checked at each recall/cleaning appointment. The success of your implants greatly depend on how well you are able maintain them. They will need to be professionally cleaned and examined by your dentist every four to six months. If a hygienist is performing your cleaning, they should be trained in the specific procedure of maintaining dental implants. Also, brushing and flossing daily is absolutely necessary for long-term success just as with natural teeth.
3. Is dental implant surgery painful?
Most patients are surprised to find out how easy implant surgery placement can be. Normally there is little to no pain associated with placing an implant. Most people are surprised to learn that the bone itself has no nerves. Only the gums have feeling and need to be numb in order to place the implant(s). The procedure can be done under local anesthesia and in a short period of time.
4. Is there any pain after the anesthetic has worn off?
When the anesthesia (numbing) wears off about three or four hours later, some patients might have tenderness or discomfort. The level of discomfort varies from case to case, but most patients do not have significant problems. Some patients do have varying degrees of pain or discomfort which may last for several days. Swelling and a black and blue spot may also develop as a result of either the implant or at the site of the anesthesia. In cases where there is prolonged pain, you should see your dentist right away.
5. If an implant or implants fail, can additional implants be placed?
If an implant is not properly integrating into the adjacent bone or if an infection develops, the implant may have to be removed. Factors that cause implants to fail are smoking and smokeless tobacco, uncontrolled diabetes, immune-suppressed patients, and patients with untreated periodontal (gum) disease.
6. How will I clean around the implants?
Dental implants should be cleaned just as natural teeth are. Daily brushing and flossing is important to keep the implants healthy. An electric toothbrush can also be helpful for cleaning around implants. A Water-Pik or other cleaning aid may be recommended for you. Also keeping up with your yearly recall evaluations and professional cleaning will help insure the longevity of your new implant teeth.
7. How many appointments are needed to complete an implant?
A patient would need a minimum of 4 appointments to complete an implant. The first appointment would be for the placement of the implant. The second appointment would come months later. The time it takes for an implant to become integrated (become solidified in bone) can depend on the location and the patient’s healing time. In the top jaw the normal integration time is approximately 4 months and for the bottom jaw the normal time is 3 months. The third appointment is for an x-ray to verify the implant has integrated in the bone and for placement of a healing abutment (the part of the treatment that will help define your gums and make your crown look natural). The final appointment is the making and placement of crown. With today’s technology and a properly equipped office, like the Arizona Canter for Laser Dentistry, you can have an implant crown made in one day with CEREC One Day all porcelain crowns.