Dental Implants: Process, Recovery & Longevity
A dental implant is the next best thing to your own, natural teeth. These artificial restorations are an excellent option for patients who have lost one or multiple teeth to injury, periodontal disease, or other causes. Incredibly durable, dental implants are designed to look, fit and feel just like your own teeth, and won’t ever slip out of place like dentures.
Dental implants function like replacement tooth roots and may be used to restore a single tooth, several teeth, or all of your teeth. They can not only improve your smile and self-esteem, but make eating your favorite foods much more comfortable.
If you are considering a smile makeover with implants, you probably have lots of questions. Here’s a basic overview about how dental implants work, the recovery process and how long they last.
What does a dental implant procedure involve?
Good candidates for dental implants have adequate bone mass to support the artificial tooth root and healthy gums. Bone grafting may be necessary if the tooth or teeth have been missing for several years and bone mass has deteriorated. After an individual treatment plan has been developed by your dentist, and the jaw bone is ready for the artificial tooth root, the process involves multiple steps:
- The artificial tooth roots, posts made of titanium alloy, are implanted in the bone socket of the missing teeth. The process is performed with local anesthesia and takes 1-2 hours. Most patients experience minimal discomfort.
- The titanium posts then slowly fuse with the jaw bone, until they form secure anchors for the replacement teeth. This may take anywhere from 3 to 6 months.
- Impressions are used to create custom crowns that will be placed onto the abutment, or small connector that connects to the titanium posts. This phase is normally spaced a couple of weeks apart, and may take two weeks. The crowns are carefully crafted to mimic the color, shape and size of your natural teeth.
What is the recovery time?
Recovery times will depend on the individual case and the number of teeth replaced. In cases that require no bone grafting, there is typically minimal swelling or discomfort after dental implant surgery. After the procedure, patients should stick to a soft, bland diet for a week and avoid foods like nuts and seeds that may get lodged in the gum areas. Cottage cheese, yogurt, fruit smoothies and soup are recommended for the first few days. Avoid vigorous physical activity for three to four days post-surgery. Most patients can resume normal activities within a few days with little inconvenience. Careful and gentle brushing is also important during the first few weeks post-op. Mouth rinses with warm, salted water can help keep the mouth clean and relieve discomfort.
A poor diet, alcohol intake, smoking and aggressive brushing can prolong the healing process and recovery time significantly. Schedule an appointment with your dentist if you experience persistent bleeding, swelling or pain.
How long do dental implants last?
When cared for properly, dental implants can easily last for upwards of 20 years. Daily brushing, flossing and professional cleanings twice a year are the safest way to ensure the longevity of dental implants. Unlike your natural teeth, implants will never get discolored or develop cavities. However, implants placed at the back of the mouth may not last quite as long, due to the wear and tear of chewing. Poor dental hygiene can lead to gum disease and an increased chance of premature implant failure.
New York dental implant specialists
Diseased, failing and missing teeth are no challenge for Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot, who leverage the experience and skill to address the most difficult of cases. If you are ready to improve your quality of life, your smile and your confidence, dental implants may be the solution.
Schedule your free consultation for dental implants on Long Island today! Call our Suffolk County office at 631.296.0549.
Additional Dental Implant Resources:
- Perio.org, Dental Implants https://www.perio.org/consumer/dental-implants
- WebMD, Dental Implants https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-implants#1
- MouthHealthy, Implants http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/i/implants