Enhance & Restore Your Smile with Dental Implants.
As dentistry has evolved, dentists have continued to develop innovative ways to replace missing teeth. No longer must patients rely on fixtures that sit on top of the gums to provide them with the stability and appearance they desire. Dental Implants are a great way to replace missing teeth and also provide a fixed solution to having removable partial or complete dentures. At Peters Dental Associates, we perform dental implant treatments to restore optimal functionality and oral health. Visit our office in Clear Lake, TX to learn more about dental implants.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are artificial roots and teeth surgically placed into the upper or lower jaw bone. Historically, tooth replacement focused on the restoration of a tooth-like structure. With dental implants, your surgeon replaces the entire anatomy of a tooth, including the root.
Implants are small posts, typically made of titanium, which are inserted into the jawbone. In the months that follow implant surgery, posts integrate themselves into the bone. The stabilized implant lays the foundation for a lifelike restoration. The teeth attached to implants are very natural looking, as comfortable as real teeth, and often enhance or restore a patient’s smile!
Who is a good candidate for a dental implant?
Dr. Peters believes dental implants are far and away the best option for tooth replacement. An implant is anchored into your jawbone so the implant functions and looks just like a natural tooth. You can eat anything you like, and your home hygiene isn’t any different than it is for a natural tooth, just twice-daily brushing and once-daily flossing. Plus, dental implants generally will last for decades, often the remainder of the patient’s life. Replacing many missing teeth with dental implants may be cost prohibitive. In these cases, a dental bridge may be more viable financially. However, when comparing costs, replacing two or three teeth with implants could still cost less over the long term than a series of replacement bridges.
Bottom line is that anyone with healthy gums and adequate jawbone mass is an excellent candidate to replace a missing tooth with a dental implant. And if your jawbone has resorbed during your tooth loss, we can build it back up with bone grafting.
What are the benefits of an implant?
The main advantage is that you can achieve the highest degree of stability for your crown, bridge, or denture. Because implants integrate into the jawbone, these fixtures can last a lifetime with good care. The materials and technique promote longevity. However, it is important to take good care of your gums to maintain successful results. Advanced gum disease affects the bone, which can weaken the stability of implants just as it does natural teeth.
In recreating the natural structure of teeth and roots within the jaw, dental implants achieve something no other treatment can: bone regeneration. The bone in the jaw relies on stimulation that transfers through teeth and roots from chewing. Without this activity, the density and height of the jawbone will decrease over time. By supplying proper stimulation, implants help patients retain normal facial structure across the lips and cheeks.
What to Expect
Dr. Peters performs the dental implant procedure in our Clear Lake office with local anesthetic. The length of the process will vary based on the number of implants needed. This method of tooth replacement can be used when one tooth has been lost, or even when a full arch of teeth needs replacing. Peters Dental Associates’ goal is to prioritize your comfort and peace of mind, as well as to plan your implant surgery to be a stress-free, pain-free event.
My family and I have been coming to Peters Dental Associates for 15 years. I have been very pleased with all the services they provide. They are like family to us. They are always professional and helpful. I would and have recommended them to many others.
What should I expect at my dental implant consultation?
During your consultation with Dr. Peters the goal is to ascertain if your jawbone has sufficient bone mass to support a dental implant and to fully explain the process to you. Dr. Peters views every consultation as a complete give and take of information. For dental implants, we need to take a special 3-D x-ray of the potential implant location. Dr. Peters will use this to see if you have adequate bone mass to anchor the titanium dental implant base. Without adequate bone mass the implant can loosen and fail.
Even if you have lost bone mass in the area, which happens if a tooth has been missing for a period of time, that doesn’t mean you cannot have a dental implant. Dr. Peters will simply need to build your jawbone up in the area prior to placing the implant. He may be able to do these two functions at the same time — placing bone graft material at the same time he places the implant — or he may have to allow the graft to grow before placing the implant.
That’s what needs to be decided during your consultation. Throughout, Dr. Peters will explain what he sees with your situation. He’ll explain the entire process, and you’ll receive an estimate of what the cost will be.
What is the entire process for getting a dental implant?
As discussed above, Dr. Peters first needs to ascertain if you have sufficient bone mass to adequately anchor the implant base. If the tooth or teeth have been missing for some time, the jawbone beneath didn’t receive the energy usually sent down through the teeth when chewing. This energy is what keeps the jawbone continually shedding old cells and replacing them with new jawbone cells. Without this energy, the jawbone in the area may have resorbed to the point that there isn’t enough bone mass to safely hold the implant. In that case, Dr. Peters will need to rebuild the jawbone mass with a bone graft before the implant can be placed.
However, if you have sufficient bone mass, or once your bone graft builds new bone mass, you’re ready to have a dental implant placed. The implant process involves four distinct steps:
- Implant placement — Dr. Peters first anesthetizes the implant site. Then he exposes the jawbone. Then he drills a small hole into the socket area that held the former tooth root. Now the titanium implant is screwed down into the socket.
- Osseointegration — The second step is what separates implants from other replacement options. Once the implant is placed, the jawbone is allowed to grow around the implant, making it part of the jaw. This process, called osseointegration, takes from three to six months.
- Attaching the post and crown — Once your jawbone has adopted the implant you return and we attach a post, called an abutment, to the implant and fabricate the crown (false tooth) and attach it to the post.
Dr. Peters uses only porcelain crowns in his practice, so it will beautifully match your surrounding teeth and provide unparalleled strength and durability. Once we attach the crown, you can go out and immediately enjoy your new tooth. Occasionally, Dr. Peters will need to first attach the abutment and wait for more healing before he places the crown to the abutment. He only does this if your case requires the extended healing time to achieve the best possible outcome.
How long does the entire process of getting an implant take?
Once Dr. Peters places the titanium implant base, it will take between three and six months for your jawbone to grow around and incorporate the implant. This timeframe varies based on your unique rate of bone growth.
After your jaw has integrated the implant base, you return to the office and we attach the post and the custom abutment to the implant base. Occasionally, the abutment is placed first while the gums continue to heal and settle around the post. Then the custom crown is attached to the abutment. This is only done if your case requires some extended healing time to achieve the best possible outcome. This will add an additional 3-6 weeks to the time needed to complete the process.
Start to finish? You can expect a timeframe from around four to seven months.
How long will my dental implant last?
Because your dental implant fuses into your jawbone, it functions exactly like a natural tooth. You can eat what you want without any worries. It is possible to damage or break the porcelain crown (artificial tooth) attached to the implant, but even if that happens it is easy to place a new crown. In most cases, our Clear Lake patients can expect their dental implants to last the rest of their lives.
Can you break an implant?
Very rarely do modern implant bodies break once they fully integrate in bone. None of Dr. Peters’ patients have had this occur. You can break the porcelain crown that is attached to the implant. That is rare, as these artificial teeth are quite strong. If, however, the artificial tooth breaks, it is easy to have a new crown fabricated and to attach it to the implant base in the jawbone.
Planning for Recovery
Dental implants are situated beneath the gums. It can take several months for posts to become encased in newly developed bone. During this time, we will use a temporary fixture such as a bridge or denture to restore your smile. You will be able to eat, though it is advisable to consume softer foods for the first week or so after your procedure. Post-operative discomfort is typically minimal. You can use over-the-counter pain medication, or one prescribed by your dentist, to help manage any pain. For additional information on how to care for your implants after the procedure, read our blog post on preserving your dental implants.
What are the risks involved with having a dental implant placed?
Dental implants are the most successful procedures in dentistry, with success rates in the upper 90 percentile range. They have been used in modern dentistry for over 50 years and have been studied extensively. The only variables are the patient’s medical conditions and jawbone mass, and thanks to Dr. Peters’ skill and experience with ascertaining whether the patient has sufficient bone health and mass to support the implant, there is very little risk of failure of the implant.
Otherwise, there is a slight risk of infection when the implant is placed and the gums heal, but as long as you are diligent with your home hygiene the risk is quite low.
Implants are a Cost-effective Solution to Tooth Loss
At Peters Dental Associates, we understand that the cost of dental implants is an important factor in determining your course of treatment. The initial cost of dental implants is higher than alternatives such as dentures or a bridge. However, the longevity of the implant restoration is a significant consideration. Some insurance providers also extend a certain amount of coverage for restorative care.