How Do Dental Implants Work?

If you’re missing one or more teeth and would prefer not to have partial or full dentures, you should consider asking your dentist about dental implants. Dental implants are more natural-looking than dentures, as they’re directly attached to the jawbone. 

But how do dental implants work? And what does the dental implants procedure look like? Our experienced dentists in Omaha, NE are here to answer your questions. 

What Are Dental Implants? 

Not sure what dental implants are? Dental implants are small metal posts that replace the roots of missing teeth. They are implanted into or above the jawbone during a minor surgical procedure. 

After the implant has been placed and a short healing period, an artificial tooth (AKA crown) is attached. 

What Do Dental Implants Look Like? 

A dental implant resembles a cylinder or screw and serves as the artificial root of a missing tooth. Most implants are made of titanium or other materials that are compatible with the human body. 

Dental implants consist of three parts: implants, abutments, and crowns: 

  • Implants - An implant is a screw-like post that serves as the root of the tooth. Out of all the options available for replacing teeth, dental implants are the only option that function like natural tooth roots. 

  • Abutment - The abutment is a small connector that joins the implant and the crown. One side attaches to the implant post, while the other side adheres to the artificial tooth. 

  • Crown - A dental crown is a replacement tooth that is matched to your natural teeth. The prosthetic is the only visible part of the dental implants and can either be a crown, bridge, or dentures. 

In general, dental crowns are used to replace a single tooth or multiple missing teeth separate from another. Whereas, if you’re replacing two or more missing teeth that are next to each other, you may opt for a dental bridge. Dentures are an option for patients that want to replace an entire arch of missing teeth. 

How Do Dental Implants Work? 

Dental implants work and look like natural teeth. The roots of your teeth are embedded in the jawbone, which gives them their stability. Dental implants function the same way. 

The titanium roots of dental implants are fastened into or on top of the jawbone. Over time, the implant fuses with the jawbone to provide a secure foundation for your replacement teeth — regardless of whether it’s a dental crown, bridges, or implant-supported dentures. 

Types of Dental Implants

Dental implants can improve your smile, and they function like natural teeth! But before you undergo dental implant surgery, it helps to know the main types of dental implants. 

There are two dental implant options available, including: 

  • Endosteal - Endosteal implants are the most common type of dental implant and are fused into the jawbone. This type of implant comes in different sizes and heights. 

  • Subperiosteal - Subperiosteal implants are placed underneath the gums, but above the jawbone. A metal framework is also used instead of a titanium screw. While less common than endosteal implants, this type is an option for patients who don’t have the bone structure to support a dental implant. 

Who Is a Candidate for Dental Implants?

To benefit from dental implants you must be in good general and oral health. A healthy jawbone is needed to support and anchor the implants. 

However, if you’ve suffered bone loss, this does not rule you out as a candidate for dental implants. Your dentist may even recommend dental implants to prevent further bone loss. 

Your jawbone can also be rebuilt with grafting procedures as part of the implant process, or you may opt for subperiosteal implants. 

Who Is Not Suitable for Dental Implants?

Patients who take certain medications that suppress the immune system may not be suitable for dental implants. Certain habits, such as grinding or clenching your teeth, may also affect your eligibility. These habits put too much pressure on the implants and can cause long-term damage. 

Other factors that may negatively impact the outcome of your implants include: 

  • Advanced gum disease

  • Uncontrolled diabetes

  • Cancer 

  • Smoking 

  • Alcoholism

Dental Implants Procedure

If you’re healthy and your dentist decides you're a good candidate for dental implants, a plan will be discussed for implant surgery. 

The dental implant process takes several months to complete and is not a procedure you can have done in one visit. Each part of the procedure is followed by a short healing period to avoid complications. 

Dental implant surgery is broken into three stages, including: 

  1. Placing the implant - First, you undergo surgery to have the implant placed in or above your jawbone. The oral surgeon drills holes into the jaw where the implant fixture is then placed. If you’ve opted for a subperiosteal implant, the surgeon will place the implant below the gumline not but directly into the jawbone. 

It generally takes three to six months for the jawbone and surrounding gums to completely heal. 

  1. The abutment is attached - After the implant is bonded, the surgeon places an abutment over top of the implant. In some cases, the implant and abutment are positioned at the same time. The implant and abutment serve as an anchor for the dental crown. 

At this point, the abutment may be visible. Your surgeon may recommend temporary replacement options such as a retainer, dental flipper, or cap to keep the implant safe while it heals. 

  1. Crown placement - Following the healing period, your dentist will take impressions of your teeth and custom-order a permanent replacement. Individual crowns and implant-supported bridges are then cemented to the abutment. If a denture is being placed, it will likely be snapped onto the abutment.  

Eagle Run West Dental Groups coordinates all our dental implant cases with a local oral surgeon. However, we provide regular dental check-ups and would be glad to answer any questions you have about the dental implant process. 

How Long Does the Dental Implants Process Take?

The entire dental implants process can take anywhere from six months to a year, depending on the amount of time it takes for your gums to heal. Keep in mind, surgery to place the implants takes 1-2 hours per implant.

However, all of this waiting isn’t for nothing. With twice-daily toothbrushing and flossing, your replacement crowns can last 10-15 years. 

Dental Implants vs. Dentures

Dentures are removable teeth replacements that come in full or partial sets. They’re generally the most popular option for patients missing sets of teeth rather than just one here or there. 

Dental implants are permanent teeth replacements. While they cost more than dentures, dental implants last longer and can save you money over time. Dental implants also require fewer visits to the dentist because their upkeep is easier than dentures. 

If you’re weighing your options, it’s best to talk to your dentist! They can help you decide while explaining the differences in detail. Our team at Eagle Run West Dental Group would be delighted to help determine if dentures or dental implants are right for you! 

Are Dental Implants Worth It? 

Yes! Dental implants offer a long-lasting solution for patients with missing teeth, proving to be a wise investment for those wanting to reduce dental problems in the future. 

Some benefits of dental implants include: 

  • Support a healthy bite

  • Keep teeth in the proper position

  • Reduce bone deterioration

  • Preserve the jawbone

  • Enhance the overall appearance of your teeth

With dental implants, you never have to worry about them falling out while speaking. They also feel more comfortable and look more natural than dentures! 

Dental Implants in Omaha, NE

Not sure if you’re a candidate for dental implants? The best way to find out if they’re right for you is to schedule an implants consultation with Eagle Run West Dental Group today! 

To learn more about our cosmetic dentistry services in Omaha, NE, call 402-498-8804 or contact us

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