As your trusted Raleigh area dentists, it is our job to tell you when a tooth cannot be saved despite your excellent oral-hygiene practices and commitment to routine exams and cleanings. Whether you’re facing an extraction or have lost teeth because of an unexpected accident or decay, at Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry, we offer implant dentistry and dental implants — a permanent, restorative solution that will give you back your beautiful, natural-looking smile.
What Is a Dental Implant?
In implant dentistry, a dental implant consists of a small, screw-shaped, titanium post that replaces the root of a missing tooth. It will support a crown or can be used to increase stability of dentures. Implants typically minimize bone loss in the area of placement and will never decay because they are made of titanium. It requires a minor surgical procedure in which the post is inserted into the jawbone where the missing tooth once was and is left to heal for a set period of time. While it heals, the bone fuses to the implant, and then the tooth-like crown is attached.
Why Dental Implants?
Implant dentistry is quickly gaining popularity. Dental implants have a 95 percent tooth-replacement success rate and correct even the most severe problems associated with missing teeth. They are a safe and effective method for replacing missing teeth with new, natural-looking, permanent teeth, and they help preserve the tooth-supporting bone that naturally deteriorates when a tooth is lost, thereby sustaining the integrity of your facial structure.
For many, dental implants offer a much-needed reprieve from ill-fitting, uncomfortable dentures or retainers with false teeth. At Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry, we offer three primary tooth-replacement options. Depending on the number of missing teeth, certain implant options work better than others:
- Single-tooth replacements have the highest success rate, and because they will never decay or need root canal treatments, they are the best long-term investment for replacing a single tooth.
- Multitooth replacements are similar to bridges and are commonly used when three or more teeth in a row are missing. A bridge must connect to a natural tooth, which often becomes weak and starts to decay. With tooth implants, the surrounding teeth are not affected.
- Implant-supported dentures replace entire jawlines along the top or bottom (or both) rows. These dentures lock into place so they will not shift around in the mouth or fall out during jaw movement.
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During initial consultation, your doctor will review your medical history, take necessary radiographs, and perform a visual examination. Once it is determined that you are a candidate for implants, you will be advised to obtain a 3-D image (CT scan) of the area in question to ensure the best selection and placement of your implants. Once your doctor reviews the scan, he or she will determine whether the implant can be placed in the office or referred to a specialist.
In some cases, it will be necessary to supplement the amount of bone for proper support of the implant. It can be done either prior to implant placement or on the same day as implant placement. This will be determined after the CT scan is reviewed.
Dental implants can be placed either under local anesthesia or under sedation. This, too, can be discussed with your doctor during the initial consultation. Most patients are surprised at how easily and quickly they heal afterwards. In most cases, the implants are left alone for 3–4 months after placement. This healing period allows the bone to properly integrate with the implant. Once healing is complete, your implant is ready for use.
Just like your natural teeth, with proper maintenance and cleaning, dental implants can last forever. As part of our job as your dental implant specialists, we ensure the longevity of your dental work by guiding you through the maintenance and care of your implants at each stage, both immediately after and long after the procedure.