Dental implants replace missing teeth or stabilize loose fitting dentures. The bone of the jaw fuses directly to the surface of the implant making it very strong and functional. Dental implants can be placed appropriately to replace one tooth, several teeth, or all teeth at the same time. Dr. Bulloch has had four years of additional training after dental school in the art and science of dental implants and has placed many thousands throughout his practice.
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How do implants compare with other treatments?
Implants are the closest to natural teeth in form and function of all available treatments. The success rate and expected longevity far exceed those generally seen for any other treatment for failing or missing teeth.
Bridges can replace missing teeth; however, the average lifespan of a bridge is ten years, and the design of a bridge requires significant damage to the teeth on either side of the missing tooth. If a tooth that the bridge connects to fails, the entire bridge is generally lost. An implant tooth is a free-standing tooth that does not depend on any other tooth for support. It does not require any damage to the other teeth and provides a much more stable and effective way to manage the forces of chewing.
Partial dentures are false teeth that snap onto the remaining natural teeth. They create unfavorable forces on those teeth and need to be removed to clean. They tend to be uncomfortable for most patients and contribute to the loss of more teeth over time. The esthetics of partial dentures are relatively poor because of clasps and instability. Implants provide a much more stable alternative that does not need to be taken out to clean, and helps protect the remaining natural teeth by sharing the chewing forces.
Conventional dentures or “plates” are used to replace all of the teeth in an arch. Although some people function relatively well with dentures, most do not. Dentures generally provide between 10 and 20 percent of the biting capacity of natural teeth. They require a great deal of learning and adaptation, and in most cases change the taste of food. Denture adhesives help with stability, but will often melt with hot foods or drinks. This makes the adhesive ineffective and adds a large dose of denture adhesive flavoring to the food or drink. Over time, dentures contribute to the resorption or shrinking of the bone of the jaws leaving less and less bony ridge for the denture to hold onto. This leads to a serious and often debilitating problem later in life. Implants can be used to stabilize or support the dentures providing function and stability close to that of natural teeth. Implants mimic the bone stimulation of teeth and thereby help maintain bone health and avoid resorption.
How do I know if I am a good candidate for dental implants?
The best way to know if you are a good candidate is to come into my office for a free implant consultation. Advances in implant design and techniques have made implants a viable option for almost all situations. Most implants are simple; however, some require some building up of the bone (usually using synthetic materials) or other preparation. A consultation would answer all questions regarding possible treatments and costs. In some cases, a radiograph may be needed which would incur a cost if you do not already have one from your dentist.
What can I expect for recovery?
As with any procedure, recovery courses are quite variable depending on the complexity and number of the implants. Additional procedures such as bone grafts can affect the recovery. The majority of implants, however, are simple and are associated with very little post-operative discomfort. Most patients resume normal activity immediately with no real down time. Larger cases or reconstructions can be associated with discomfort and swelling for a few days but are generally much less painful than patients expect.
What implant options are available?
The most commonly used implants are standard implants which can be used to replace any tooth or teeth or can be used to stabilize dentures. Mini implants are also an acceptable treatment to stabilize loose dentures or replace very small teeth. A consultation would provide the best look at what is available for your situation.