Missing teeth are often fodder for amusing stories about someone’s uncle or grandfather with bad-fitting dentures that slip or fall out. It’s all very funny until you end up needing a tooth extraction yourself, due to a trauma, severe gum disease, or tooth decay. Suddenly the topic of missing teeth (or more importantly, how to replace missing teeth) is anything but humorous.
If you’re among the 120 million Americans who are missing at least one tooth, you’re all too familiar with this dilemma. The good news is that as more and more people have experienced tooth loss, the number of treatments available to replace missing teeth has also risen.
Our own Meriem Boukadoum, DDS, of 54th Street Dental shares her thoughts on what has been a game-changer for many patients – dental implants. Dr. Boukadoum offers her insights on the treatment process and benefits so that you can make an informed decision about your oral health.
Dental implant process
A great way to start this discussion is to take a deep dive into what a dental implant is and how the treatment process plays out.
A dental implant is a titanium post capped with an artificial tooth that’s surgically placed in your jawbone. The artificial tooth is a custom-made crown that looks and functions like your tooth once did. Implants can also be used to hold a bridge or dentures in place.
The treatment process for dental implants happens in a series of appointments, which takes place over the course of 6-12 months. During your initial consultation, Dr. Boukadoum performs a thorough oral exam and does a series of X-rays to check the health of your tooth roots and jawbone.
If you’re a good candidate for dental implants, the process of getting your new tooth or teeth begins. During the in-office procedure, Dr. Boukadoum administers a local anesthetic to keep you comfortable, then places a post into the socket of each missing tooth. The post takes the place of your original tooth’s roots.
You go home with postop instructions and take some time to allow your mouth to heal, which typically takes several months. During this time, your jawbone tissue grows around your implant post, providing a stable foundation for your new tooth.
At your next appointment, we take impressions of your mouth and send the data to a laboratory that creates your permanent crown, bridge, or snap-on dentures. The final step happens several weeks later when your restorations come back from the lab, and Dr. Boukadoum attaches your restoration to the post.
Whether they’re used to anchor a crown, bridge, or dentures, dental implants have several benefits.
They’re convenient and comfortable
Since your dental implant is actually part of your mouth just like your natural teeth once were, the convenience and comfort are unbeatable. The implant stays in place, just like a natural tooth root, so you don’t have to change your usual brushing and flossing routine. And implants are so comfortable, you won’t even remember they’re there.
You can skip the gooey adhesives and overnight cleaning
Since a dental implant is permanent, you don’t have to deal with messy adhesives or overnight soaking and cleaning solutions. So there’s no awkward maintenance, and you don’t have to worry about slipping and sliding issues. Now that’s a definite win-win!
They’re natural looking and long lasting
Although comfort, convenience, and no extra work are all amazing perks of dental implants, the greatest benefits of dental implants are their natural appearance and sheer durability. With diligent at-home care and professional cleanings, dental implants can last a lifetime.
With a full set of teeth, you’ll regain your self-confidence and be able to eat all your favorite foods again.
If you’re missing permanent teeth and want to learn if dental implants are right for you, make an appointment with us at 54th Street Dental. To book an appointment, use the online booking tool or call our New York City office.