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All About Dental Implants
Palisades, CA

If you are missing one or more teeth, you are not alone. According to the American College of Prosthodontists (ACP), 120 million people in the United States are missing at least one tooth, and more than 36 million Americans have no teeth at all.

In the past, patients had limited options when it came to tooth replacement. The installation of a dental bridge or denture was the only way to restore your smile. These days, there is a new standard of excellence—dental implants. At Palisades Surgical Arts, we offer some implant-supported restoration to give you back a smile you deserve!

Causes of Tooth Loss

Despite the many improvements in dental healthcare, many people still practice poor oral hygiene. By not brushing or flossing your teeth properly, you are putting yourself at risk for dental caries and periodontal disease. Dental caries is a medical term used to describe tooth decay or cavities. Caries is caused by different types of bacteria that feed on the sugars and other carbohydrates present in the food you eat. As the bacteria feed, they produce acids that eat away at your tooth enamel. When left untreated, this damage can eventually lead to tooth loss.

Periodontal disease is another leading cause of tooth loss. Periodontal or gum disease, is also caused by the bacteria present in your mouth. Your immune system produces harmful toxins to combat these bacteria. Over time, these toxins can cause significant damage to the connective tissues, ligaments, and bone that keep your teeth in place.

What are Dental Implants?

Implant restorations typically consist of three parts:

•  The implant screw. A small titanium screw that is surgically placed into the jaw.
•  The abutment. A metal or porcelain support structure that connects the implant screw to the restoration.
•  The restoration. A tooth-shaped prosthesis that attaches to the abutment.

Dental implants serve as the root component of a prosthetic tooth. Implants can be used to support a single dental crown, a fixed bridge, or a complete denture. Implant-supported restorations are more natural-looking, stable, and typically last longer than other replacement options.

Dental Implants and Osseointegration

One of the reasons dental implants are so successful is osseointegration. Once the titanium screw has been placed in your jawbone, osseointegration will begin to occur. During this process, the implant and your jawbone will slowly fuse together. This can take up to six months or more; however, the wait will be well worth it. Osseointegration will help provide a stable base for your new prosthesis. In fact, the relationship between the implant and your jaw is the next best thing to that of your actual tooth.

The Need for Bone Augmentation

During a consultation visit, Dr. Moncayo will help you decide if implants are right for you. If your jawbone is not thick enough or too soft, you may need bone augmentation before implantation is possible. Without the necessary amount of bone, your implant will likely fail. A strong foundation of bone will help ensure your implant has the necessary support to withstand the powerful bite force that exerts pressure on your teeth when you chew. With a healthy amount of bone, the success of your dental implant is almost guaranteed. The National Center for Biotechnological Information (NCBI), has reported a 96% survival rate of dental implants in a 6-year clinical study.

There are a few forms of bone augmentation that can help ensure the success of your dental implant.

•  Bone graft. A bone graft is a safe and very effective procedure that allows us to build up new bone using graft material. Often the new bone can be obtained from a bone dense area of your body, such as your hip or chin. In other cases, the graft material can come from a donor, or be created synthetically in a laboratory. Once the material has been grafted, it may take several months for the new bone to grow. By the end of the process, the graft material will be completely absorbed by new bone.
•  Sinus lift. A sinus lift is used to restore the bone that exists in the posterior region of your upper jaw. The anatomy of your jaw dictates that less bone will naturally occur in this area. In many cases, a sinus lift is needed to place an implant for an upper molar or premolar. During the procedure, your sinuses on either side of your face, are gently lifted up to provide additional space for the graft material and future bone.
•  Ridge expansions. In some cases, the jaw may not be wide enough to support a dental implant. Bone grafting material can be added to widen the ridge and ensure the success of your implant. Ridge expansion can be performed to restore a single socket or widen the ridge for larger prostheses. Some patients may be able to receive an implant immediately after a ridge expansion. Most of the time, there is a healing period that can range from four to 12 months.

Dental Implant Surgery

The dental implant procedure is broken down into two surgeries. During the first surgery, Dr. Moncayo will make a small incision in the gum tissue and place the implant. Patients that need a full arch of replacement teeth will receive several implants. A small hole is drilled into the bone to ensure the implant is firmly in position. Once the implant is in place, Dr. Moncayo will suture the incision and sterilize the surgical area. There will still be a gap where your tooth is missing. We may provide you with a temporary restoration to protect the incision site and improve appearance. The temporary restoration should be removed for cleaning and while you sleep. For the next several months we will wait for the bone and your implant to undergo osseointegration.

When osseointegration is complete, we will schedule a second surgery to place the abutment. Dr. Moncayo will expose the implant screw and place a healing collar to help guide the gum tissue. Once your tissue has properly healed, we can attach the abutment to the implant screw. Then, we will take an impression of the abutment, and send it to the dental laboratory, where they will fabricate your final restoration.

Thanks to recent technological advancements, more and more patients have been able to receive their abutment at the same time as the implant. For those that don’t, the second surgery is a crucial part of the implant process.

Once your final restoration is complete, Dr. Moncayo will fasten it to the abutment and check for the proper fit. Minor adjustments may be made if we notice any issues with your bite or surrounding teeth. After we achieve the perfect fit, Dr. Moncayo will permanently cement the restoration in place.

Implant-restorations are typically made of porcelain or a zirconia composite. Both materials can be shaded to match the color of your remaining teeth. Thanks to the esthetics and strength of these materials, your restoration will look, feel, and function just like your natural teeth.

Implant-supported restorations can also be removable. Some patients may opt to receive a removable overdenture that uses implants for additional support. This can be a more affordable option compared to other implant-supported restorations, but also more secure than a traditional denture.

Most patients who receive dental implants say that the procedure involves little pain and discomfort. Thanks to local anesthetic and sedation, we can ensure your procedure is as comfortable as possible. Some even report that implants involve less pain than a tooth extraction!

After Dental Implant Surgery

After dental implant surgery, most patients experience the typical discomforts associated with oral surgery. You may experience:

•  Bruising or swelling of the gums and face
•  Pain or soreness at the implant site
•  Minor bleeding at the implant site

Most pain is minor enough to be treated with over-the-counter medications, such as Tylenol or Advil. Some patients may need to be prescribed pain medication and antibiotics to ensure a smooth healing process. We also recommend a soft food diet to avoid putting stress on your incision site or damaging your temporary. If swelling, pain, and bleeding get worse in the days following surgery, be sure to contact us immediately.

Caring for Your Implant

•  Proper oral hygiene. Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, and preferably after meals. Daily flossing is also an important part of your oral hygiene. Flossing will remove food particles and prevent periodontal disease. Patients with an implant-supported bridge may need to purchase a special floss or brush that will clean the area in between the restoration and your gums. Antibacterial mouthwash can also be an effective way to kill bacteria and keep your mouth healthy.
•  Avoid poor habits. If you have a dental implant, you should avoid chewing your nails and other hard items. This may cause damage to your restoration (or remaining teeth). We may recommend a bite guard for patients who grind their teeth or participate in contact sports. Smoking or tobacco use can negatively affect your dental implant and oral health.
•  Schedule regular exams and professional cleanings. Unfortunately, even patients with excellent oral hygiene still need the help of a professional. We recommend scheduling visits at regular intervals. Most patients need to see a dentist every six months.

The Benefits of Dental Implants

Dental implants have become the new standard of excellence thanks to their many advantages.
Some of which include:

•  Better appearance. Porcelain and Zirconia offer the very best in esthetics. These materials can be shaped to match the texture of tooth enamel. They also mimic the light reflecting properties of your natural teeth.
•  Better comfort. Unlike other restorations, dental implants capitalize on your existing bone structure for support. Osseointegration allows the implant to become a part of you, meaning your implant will function just like a regular tooth.
•  Better chewing and speaking. You will be able to chew and speak with confidence knowing your implant will never slip or falter. Other restorations, such as traditional dentures, can cause embarrassing and uncomfortable moments, as well as limit the foods you can eat. With dental implants, you will be able to eat what you want without pain, discomfort, or worry.
•  Better oral health. Implant-supported restorations do not affect the surrounding teeth. Traditional bridges and partial dentures can eventually lead to complications with your oral health. Both restorations use anchor teeth for support and can cause decay or structural damage without proper maintenance.
•  No bone deterioration. One of the biggest benefits of dental implants is the prevention of bone deterioration. Osseointegration allows the implant to provide the stimulation necessary to keep your bone from atrophy. Without it, your jawbone will resorb into the bloodstream. Traditional dentures and bridges do nothing to stop the process of bone deterioration.
•  Durability and longevity. With the proper maintenance and oral hygiene, your dental implant will last for decades. In many cases, a dental implant can last a lifetime!
•  Convenience. Because your implant can be treated like your natural teeth, most patients do not need to worry about special care instructions. Other restorations, such as dentures, can require messy adhesives and tedious cleaning rituals. You can maintain an implant with regular brushing, flossing, and professional checkups.

The Cost of an Implant

The initial costs of a dental implant are higher than that of other restorations. However, other restorations need to be repaired or replaced much more frequently than dental implants. On top of that, they can cause damage to your surrounding teeth and lead to further restorative treatment. In this sense, dental implants are cost-effective in the long term.

Most insurance companies typically do not cover the cost of a dental implant. However, coverage may vary depending on your circumstance. As the popularity and convenience of implants increase, insurance providers are starting to offer coverage or partial coverage for dental implants. Talk with your insurance provider to learn more about your coverage.

Schedule a Consultation Appointment Today!

If you are missing one or more teeth, Palisades Surgical Arts can change your life with dental implants! Call (310) 459-0014, and schedule your consultation appointment today!
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