Missing teeth is a very common problem among adults in the US. If you are missing teeth, you deserve to know all of your options for replacement. Dental implants are not only the longest-lasting type of tooth replacement, they are also exceedingly durable, effective and lifelike. In Glendale, Arizona, experienced cosmetic dentist Dr. Donald Wilcox is driven by restoring his patients' confidence in their smiles. Dental implants can give you back an attractive smile and healthy, comfortable bite. To find out if you are a candidate, please call our experienced staff at (602) 734-0050.
What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root: It replaces the missing tooth root, which is the portion of a tooth lying beneath your gums. A dental crown, dental bridge or implant-supported denture (all of which are known as the "prosthesis") is then affixed to the abutment of the dental implant to replace the upper, visible portion of the tooth.
Dr. Wilcox knows there is a lot of information available about replacing missing teeth. Please see our implant dentistry questions page and schedule a consult with Dr. Wilcox for a personalized discussion.
Dental implants are placed in the jaw beneath your gums. This fact makes them different from any other kind of tooth replacement system. Implantation within the bone makes these restorations stable, secure and comfortable in your mouth. The success rate for dental implants is very high, and it is rare for an implant to be rejected.
As you can see below, the dental implant is placed in the bone at the site of the missing tooth:
The abutment is the connecting piece that joins the prosthesis to the dental implant. Sometimes the abutment is placed at the same time as a dental implant, but they are most often placed after the bone and the implant have been allowed adequate time to fuse together:
Below is a close up of a zirconium abutment. It is made by a sophisticated CAD-CAM system and is the current state-of-the-art abutment in aesthetic areas. The second photo shows the porcelain crown seated over the zirconium abutment and it blends perfectly with the dental veneers that are present on the adjacent teeth. No metal is present to cause discoloration at the gum line. The appearance will be as lifelike in the years ahead as it is today:
Once bone and dental implant have fused, the abutment is placed on top of the post of the implant. Then the permanent restoration (often a dental crown) is affixed to the abutment. A row of crowns known as a dental bridge is another option for restoring the teeth:
Dental Implant-Supported Dentures
In addition to dental crowns and dental bridges, dentures can be affixed to dental implants. The two types of denture are "fixed" and "removable." If you want removable dentures, a bar attachment is placed on the dental implants, so that the denture can be clipped on and off:
A fixed, non-removable denture is fitted to a frame that is secured to the dental implants. Five or more dental implants are placed along the contour of the jaw to support this frame:
To custom fit the prosthesis to your mouth, we will take impressions of your jaws, teeth and abutments. Bite registrations are also made to allow the new teeth to fit together properly. Your input is needed to select final colors, shapes and length of the new teeth.
Candidates for Dental Implants
Many people who are interested in dental implants are good candidates for this type of restoration; however, a consultation with Dr. Wilcox is necessary to discuss your candidacy. Dental implants may be a good option for you if you are:
- Missing one or more teeth
- Looking for an effective, long-term (potentially permanent) way to replace missing teeth
- Interested in preventing loss of other teeth in the future
- In good overall health
Because these restorations are embedded within the bone beneath your gums, you must have healthy, adequate bone in that area. If you do not, Dr. Wilcox may recommend a bone graft, and also describe what your other options are if you decide dental implants are not meeting your expectations for a tooth replacement.
The only way to know if you are a candidate is to meet with Dr. Wilcox. Your consultation will include a discussion of your wishes and priorities, and it will include an exam, medical history and imaging so that Dr. Wilcox has all the information he needs to determine if dental implants are an option.
The Dental Implant Process: What to Expect
After your consultation, if you have decided to move forward with dental implants, the next phase will be planning. Dr. Wilcox uses a 3D Cone Beam scanner to plan an accurate, optimized dental implant procedure. This imaging system produces a 3D picture of your jaws, teeth and entire mouth, which enables Dr. Wilcox to see the fine detail of the treatment area, including surrounding nerves and the sinus area. This visualization assists Dr. Wilcox in finding the optimum location to place the dental implant. Here are two images of how the scan looks on a computer monitor:
Procedure. Dr. Wilcox works with trusted implant surgeons in our area to place the dental implant in the bone. After that procedure, Dr. Wilcox will manage the placement of the prosthesis. Dr. Wilcox will ensure you receive the prosthesis you want and that it creates a smile appearance you can be proud of. He uses advanced restorations in the shade of your choosing.
Recovery. Dental implant recovery consists of two phases as described below.
- Initial recovery: After your surgery, you may feel a little sore and experience swelling for several days. This phase concludes relatively quickly for most people. You'll need to do nothing but rest for one full day, or possibly a few days depending on how you feel and the nature of your procedure. After that, you should feel well enough to go back to work and your normal activities.
- Long-term recovery: During this time, the dental implant fuses and integrates with the bone, which is a process known as "osseointegration." This phase may take several months to reach full recovery. During this time you will wear a temporary restoration so that your smile looks normal. You may need to avoid certain sticky, crunchy and hard foods as outlined by our team. You will also not be allowed to smoke, if you are a smoker, as smoking significantly increases the risk of dental implant failure.
Dr. Wilcox wants to provide you with an outstanding tooth replacement, a comfortable experience and a successful recovery. During your consultation and the appointments leading up to dental implant placement, Dr. Wilcox and our team will make sure you have all the information pertaining to your recovery, and that we describe all of your options for minimizing any post-up pain.
Advantages of Dental Implants
Simply put, a dental implant is the most permanent and effective way to replace missing teeth, mostly because of the solid foundation formed by osseointegration. Osseointegration not only forms a secure, stable base, it also prevents jaw shrinkage and teeth shifting.
The roots in your teeth are important to the bone in which they are located. They help this bone to thrive. When a root is lost and allowed to remain absent, the bone begins to resorb, essentially deteriorating. The result is that the bone in this area will shrink back, which can cause the lower third of your face to look slightly collapsed and aged.
Dental implants also prevent other teeth from shifting and tilting toward the gap left by a missing tooth. This tends to happen without tooth replacement. Your bite can become misaligned as a result, and certain teeth may become crooked, which makes them more difficult to clean and which can affect your confidence in your smile.
Even with all their advantages, dental implants aren't necessarily right for every person. Dr. Wilcox is personally committed to talking with you one-on-one to find the absolute best tooth restoration for you. Our entire team is driven by the happiness we see in our patients every day when their teeth and smiles are restored.
If you want to restore your smile by replacing missing teeth with dental implants, please call Desert Smiles at (602) 734-0050. An experienced dentist passionate about providing life-enhancing results, Dr. Donald Wilcox is proud to serve people from Scottsdale, Phoenix, Glendale, Peoria and all of the surrounding areas in Arizona.