A good smile goes a long way. It communicates who you are and how you feel. If you have a missing tooth or multiple missing teeth, you know it is more than your smile. You might have difficulties eating foods you love and speaking and smiling with confidence. You might also suffer from oral health challenges like the onset of jaw bone atrophy, which can make you look older, or your remaining teeth moving out of alignment.

Cosmetic dentists at Washington Dental can use dental implants as a perfect replacement solution to restore your facial structure and keep the jawbone healthy. We have many years of experience and training in placing dental implants in Lomita with outstanding long-term results.

Defining Dental Implants

An implant is a tiny threaded post that replaces a missing tooth root. It provides a strong foundation for permanent (fixed) or removable replacement teeth made to match your natural teeth.

Individuals with at least one missing tooth can benefit from the procedure. You can also use dental implants if you experience tooth loss stemming from:

  • Tooth decay (cavities).
  • Tooth root fracture.
  • Gum diseases.
  • Facial injuries.
  • Bruxism (grinding or clenching your teeth).

Any patient healthy enough to undergo oral surgery or dental extraction can qualify for dental implants. Patients should have healthy gums and adequate bone to hold the implant. Additionally, they should be dedicated to regular dental visits and proper oral hygiene. Ensure you consult a seasoned dentist if contemplating implants to see whether you are eligible.

Specific risk factors can affect implant candidacy. The treatment option is not ideal for you if you:

  • Are a smoker.
  • Have significant jawbone loss.
  • Have poor oral hygiene
  • Are below 18 (Many dentists will not perform a dental implant placement unless the patient’s jaw has stopped growing).
  • Have extensive tooth decay.
  • Have previously had radiation therapy to their neck or head area.
  • Suffer from chronic health conditions like autoimmune diseases or bone disorders.

Different Types of Dental Implants

There are two types of implants, namely endosteal and subperiosteal. The implant type that best suits you depends on your jawbone’s shape, size, and health. A skilled dentist should be able to make the best recommendation.

Endosteal implants are the most common. It involves inserting screws or blades into the jawbone at the location of the missing tooth.

On the other hand, subperiosteal implants rest on top of the jawbone and under the gum tissue. The option is ideal if you do not have enough height on your jawbone.

Dental Implant Procedures

Every patient has a unique experience with the implant procedure. Some of the factors that can influence this include the following:

  • The quantity and quality of bone at your implant site.
  • The number of your teeth that need replacement.
  • Dental implants’ location within your jaw.
  • Your oral and general health.

Depending on these factors, the following additional procedures could be essential:

  • Sinus augmentation — Generally, placing a dental implant in your upper jawbone is challenging due to the sinuses’ location. Your surgeon can perform a sinus augmentation to lift the sinuses’ floor, allowing more bone development and increasing the procedure’s success rate.
  • Ridge modification — Some patients have jawbone abnormalities preventing good dental implant bone development. Ridge modification involves lifting your gum to expose your deformed bone area. Then your dentist will use a bone to repair the region, improving the quality of your jawbone.

What Happens During Your Dental Implant Surgical Procedure

During your dental implant surgical procedure, your dentist will:

  1. Administer anesthesia to numb your gums. The doctor can also give you sedative medication.
  2. Once you are comfortable, your physician will cut into the gums, where your dentist will place your implant. It exposes your bone so the dentist can place your implant.
  3. Next, the dentist will make an opening in the jawbone using specialized tools. They will widen this opening until it is the right size for your implant.
  4. Then the doctor will place the implant in the jaw.
  5. Finally, your deposition will reposition the gums before using stitches to close the incision.

Generally, the implant placement procedure is identical for all patients. Sometimes a dentist can place an implant and a restoration in one dental visit. However, in most cases, patients will require a couple of weeks for their implant to recover before the surgeon can safely place the final restoration.

Recovery Duration

Typically, most patients resume their daily routine within three days.

Please note that the jawbone can take many months to fuse around the dental implant (osseointegration).

After your implant placement and surgery, your dentist should monitor your healing progress. After your implant has fused adequately with your jaws, adding your dental restoration, like a bridge or crown, is safe. Placing a restoration too soon can lead to implant failure.

Are Implants Painful?

Like all surgical procedures, it is normal to experience some discomfort. However, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can assist in reducing swelling and pain related to the surgery.

Additionally, you can lower the risk of feeling pain by avoiding physical activities for a couple of days. Raising a heart rate, particularly within the initial three days, can increase bruising, swelling, and pain.

Is Dental Implant Surgical Procedure Safe?

Implants are made of materials that follow the international consensus standards of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The standards contain details on what makes a material safe. Most dental implants are made of zirconium oxide and titanium. Other materials that can sometimes be used include cobalt-based, titanium, ceramic, and gold alloys. The safety profiles of these materials are known.

The United States Food and Drug Administration evaluates dental implants using international consensus standards. Biocompatibility testing is part of the evaluation to ensure the implant materials are safe and do not cause adverse effects and complications, like allergic reactions and patient irritation.

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Recommendations for Patients

Before deciding on dental implants, your physician should tell you about the risks and benefits and determine whether you qualify for treatment. Some of the issues to consider include the following:

  • Your general health when determining whether you are eligible for implants, the estimated recovery time, and the implants’ longevity.
  • Inquire about what model and brand of dental implant your dentist will use.
  • Smoking can impact your recovery process and lower the success rate of your implants.
  • The recovery process can be lengthy, during which you will have an abutment instead of the tooth.

Following the procedure, you should:

  • Schedule regular dental visits,
  • Comply with an oral hygiene routine, and
  • Contact your dentist immediately if the implant feels painful or loose.

Why You Should Consider Dental Implants

Notable benefits of dental implants include the following:

  • The dental procedure is effective and easy — Generally, you will be awake. While you could experience discomfort after the treatment, you will probably not feel much pain.
  • Implants keep jawbones healthy — Dental implants protect healthy bone, preventing bone loss and keeping your facial structure intact. Typically, the bone grows around the jaw after implant placement. It helps your implant fuse appropriately and increases the procedure's success rate.
  • They will improve your look — Dental implants fit, feel, and look like authentic teeth, and most people would not know you have implants. After implant placement, you do not have to worry about gaps in your smile from missing teeth. You can also smile freely, knowing your implants will not fall out.
  • They make eating easier — Dental implants improve your bite and assist a patient in regulating their chewing. Since implants are strong and stable, you do not have to avoid foods that are hard to chew, like corn or apples. They increase options for consuming more vitamins, minerals, and protein, improving overall health.
  • Improved speech — Your teeth can help you pronounce words correctly and speak clearly. If you have missing teeth, you could have difficulty talking.
  • They are easy to maintain — You do not require special maintenance techniques. You can take care of your implants the same way you care for your natural teeth.

Risks and Complications of Dental Implants

A dental implant can significantly improve oral and general health and quality of life. However, complications can sometimes happen after the implant placement or later. Common risks and complications include the following:

  • Damage to neighboring natural teeth during the procedure.
  • Injuries to your neighboring tissues during surgery, like sinus perforation.
  • Feeling that your tooth is twisting in place or loose due to an abutment screw loosening.
  • Inadequate function, like feeling your teeth do not bite together.
  • Implant body failure due to delayed recovery or systemic infections.
  • Post-surgical numbness resulting from nerve damage or impingement.

Always notify your physician that you have implants before diagnostic imaging tests like X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Your implant can interfere with the images’ clarity and quality.

What is the Cost of Dental Implants?

Implants are lifetime investments that are priced accordingly. The total cost per tooth is between $3,000 and $4,500. Every dental implant procedure is unique, so prices vary widely. Implant surgeries are complicated, and there are several parts to every process. And there are different charges for each part.

The various elements that affect the overall price of your tooth include the following:

  • Comprehensive dental examination, including diagnostic imaging tests.
  • Extraction of your tooth, if necessary.
  • Abutment hardware placement.
  • Crown placement.
  • Dental crown fabrication.

The cost of every element depends on your dentist. Some healthcare facilities provide a free computed tomography (CT) scan before conducting the procedure as a discount. However, if you pay for the diagnostic imaging, you will pay up to $515 for your dental service.

The Price of a One-Tooth Dental Implant

No patient purchases only a dental implant (the only ceramic or metal screw that enters your jawbone). You also require the crown and an abutment. All these items come at different costs.

Moreover, most patients require a bone graft or sinus lift to make their jawbone healthy and ensure the dental implant is firm. That, too, increases the overall cost.

Multiple Tooth Dental Implant Costs

If you want to replace at least one tooth and the teeth are adjacent, you have many implant options.

For instance, if a patient has a gap between four (4) neighboring teeth, they can use a bridge to hold two implants, reducing the overall cost.

Full-Mouth Dental Implant Cost

There are several full-mouth tooth replacement approaches, hence the wide pricing range.

The most costly option is replacing your teeth individually. The approach is comfortable and permits your doctor to preserve your existing healthy teeth. Typically, this option costs between $60,000 and $90,000.

Additional Costs

While hidden costs are rare, ensure you discuss pricing with your dentist. If you consult several oral health specialists, consider all the charges.

The only extra expense you could incur is the cost of medications before and after the procedure if your dentist recommends them.

Since the dental implant procedure is lengthy, you may need to spread the cost over many months. Most Lomita seasoned dentists offer flexible payment plans.

Insurance Covers Dental Implants

Traditionally, dental insurance providers considered dental implants elective and did not cover related costs. Nevertheless, that is changing, and the amount the insurer pays is growing annually.

The reimbursement cost varies with the procedure. Additionally, there is a dollar cap on reimbursement for a specific year.

If you carry insurance, your insurer can reimburse you approximately $1,500 per dental implant annually. You can collect for all years if the dental implant work spans two years.

Health savings accounts (HSAs), health reimbursement accounts (HRAs), and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) cover dental implant costs. The accounts either reimburse or pay for expenses incurred.

Check with your insurer before your procedure to understand the estimated costs.

How to Take Care of Your Dental Implants

The average lifespan of your dental implants is ten to thirty years. In other words, depending on your age, when you get an implant, the dental implant can last for the rest of your life. While your implant can last many years, the crown portion of the dental implant cannot. Your crown can only last ten to fifteen years before it requires replacement due to wear and tear.

To ensure your implant’s longevity, it takes essential maintenance and effort on your part. Here is a guide with everything you should know about caring for your implants.

Use a Soft Nylon Toothbrush

After getting dental implants, you have to change toothbrushes.

Nylon toothbrushes come with gentle and pliable bristles for your implants. You can also use a Proxabrush to clean the hard-to-reach areas in your mouth.

Avoid Abrasive Toothpaste and Mouthwash

Abrasiveness is the scrubbing power.

While some abrasiveness is essential to remove stains and plaque, the issue is that most toothpaste and mouthwash products on the market contain too much abrasiveness and can remove your enamel (your tooth’s outer layer). Once your enamel wears away, the dentin underneath (which is yellow) is exposed. It can also increase tooth sensitivity.

Moreover, too much abrasiveness can weaken your dental implant crown over time, making it more vulnerable to cracks and chips.

When purchasing toothpaste, look for the Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA), which measures how abrasive a mouthwash or toothpaste is. Look for the American Dental Association’s seal of acceptance, which does not approve toothpaste with an RDA rating above 250.

Generally, you should also avoid hygiene products with intense flavors like cinnamon or mint.

Floss With Caution

Flossing around your natural tooth involves pushing your floss into your gum pockets. It is because your gums strongly adhere to your tooth through the periodontal ligament, which contains pain nerves that will signal you once you push too hard.

On the other hand, your gums do not attach to a dental implant through the periodontal ligament but through a peri-implant seal. The seal does not have pain signals, and you might not know if it is broken. When broken, bacteria will quickly enter your gum pockets and jawbone. Fusing your dental implant and the jawbone is fundamental to your implants’ success. Bacteria will damage the bone and fusion, resulting in dental implant failure and loss.

Here are instructions on how to floss your implant:

  1. Loop your floss around the circumference of the implant post.
  2. The floss should stick out from all sides of the crown.
  3. Criss-cross your floss in the front and move it back and forth gently.

Habits to Avoid

While your priority should be proper oral hygiene, avoiding habits that leave your implants prone to chips and cracks is equally essential. These habits include the following:

  • Nail biting — While nail biting and chewing on pens might seem harmless anxiety-coping habits, you can ignore the bacteria they introduce to the mouth. Dental implants require an infection-free environment, and nail-biting can compromise their success. Consider applying nail polish or wearing a mouthguard to deter you from biting your nails.
  • Using your teeth as a tool— Have you ever opened a bottle using your back teeth or torn open a seal using your incisors? Regrettably, these habits could leave you with a broken dental implant and an emergency trip to your dentist.
  • Chewing ice cubes — One will break when ice and tooth enamel push against each other. Use a straw or drink a beverage to avoid damaging the dental implant. If the chewing motion is due to stress, chew sugarless gum.
  • Aggressive brushing techniques can damage your enamel, resulting in gum irritation. Instead, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean your teeth surface gently.
  • Smoking— If smoking is bad for natural teeth, it is terrible for implants. It increases the risk of gum disease, making it challenging for your jawbone to grow and bind with the implant.
  • Bruxism (grinding or clenching your teeth in your sleep) — Frequent abrasion and extra pressure can loosen or damage dental implants. Your qualified dentist can help you know if you grind your teeth and develop a customized mouthguard.
  • Eating a lot of sugar — Sugary foods increase the risk of developing gum disease. Eventually, it can damage your jawbone and destroy the connective tissues holding your dental implant and natural teeth.

Use a Water Flosser

Also called a dental water jet or oral irrigator, a water flosser removes bacteria in pockets up to six millimeters deep. Most water flossers come with rubber-tip stimulators and other attachments tailored to accommodate sensitive gums and clean hard-to-reach regions between teeth. Most dental care experts recommend water flossers over dental floss.

Ensure you use your water flosser first since you do not want to remove the fluoride toothpaste introduced during flossing and brushing.

Brush Your Teeth at Least Twice a Day

Brushing your teeth after waking up eliminates morning breath and removes bacteria that has built up in the mouth overnight. On the contrary, brushing before bedtime removes bacteria built up throughout the day and lowers the possibility of decay and plaque buildup overnight. You can also brush after your meals to eradicate bacteria and food debris.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

Even if you follow a proper oral routine at home, you should visit your dentist at least twice a year. Your dentist can check for issues that you might not feel or see. Most dental challenges only cause pain or become visible once they are in advanced stages.

During your dental appointment, your dentist will evaluate your gum’s health, perform a neck and head examination, evaluate your dental implants, and check for indications of vitamin deficiencies and oral cancer. Additionally, they will examine your lower jaw joints’ movements, saliva, bite, and face. Finally, they will clean your teeth to remove tartar and plaque and emphasize the importance of maintaining proper oral hygiene at home.

Find a Skilled Cosmetic Dentist Near Me

Dental implants are the premier tooth replacement method if you are missing at least one of your natural teeth. A dental implant consists of an implant post, a crown, and an abutment that together replicate the appearance and function of your natural tooth. You regain the ability to smile confidently and easily, speak, chew, and bite.

Washington Dental is a seasoned and qualified dental office dedicated to restoring healthy teeth and smiles and building self-esteem using state-of-the-art technology. If you live in Lomita and are looking for a long-term solution for your missing tooth, please contact us at 310-326-5183 to book an initial appointment and learn whether you qualify for dental implant surgery.