Losing your teeth has a lot of undesirable consequences – first, it means that you won’t be able to chew the way you used to, so you will probably end up missing out on a lot of the foods that you once loved. It also means that you could end up with bone loss in your jaw. And of course, it means that you may end up feeling reluctant to smile, which is really unfortunate, since everyone should be able to express joy and happiness.
Can You Have Implants?
Of course, nothing perfect ever comes without limitations, so we have to tell you that not everyone is a candidate for implants. Generally speaking, if your overall health is good, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be a candidate for dental implants. That said, though, some medical conditions (cancer and diabetes, for example) can preclude the installation of implants. Additionally, if the bone structure in your jaw is compromised, implants could be problematic – but not necessarily impossible. Even patients who have little bone structure can benefit from bone grafting, which is a procedure in which bone is taken from other areas and grafted to your jaw in order to support implants.
What Are Implants, Exactly?
People are sometimes under the impression that dental implants are fake teeth inserted into the jaw. This is actually partly correct. You do get fake, or prosthetic, teeth, but the teeth themselves are not inserted into your jaw. The implant itself is actually a titanium screw that is surgically implanted into the jaw, and used to support a crown, or prosthetic tooth. The implant replaces the tooth root and the crown replaces the tooth itself.
Dr. Richard Bernstein prefers the “All on 4” technique for dental implants. With this method, no matter how many teeth are missing, only four implants are needed on either jaw. Traditional implant methods can require at least eight. With All on 4, less surgery is required, you need less recovery time, and you also end up spending less money.
Dental implants are superior to dentures in that they actually encourage bone growth in your jaw instead of suppressing it. Bone loss is what causes sagging in the face, resulting in a prematurely aged appearance. Also, with implants, you can enjoy all the foods that can be problematic with dentures. Modern dentures fit very well, but are not absolutely impervious to slipping and sliding – implants are because they work just like your natural teeth. You can have steak, taffy, corn on the cob, nuts and even chew gum without having to worry about embarrassment.
Another benefit of implants over dentures is that because they are permanent and non-removable, you never have to worry about dropping, breaking or losing them. They are quite simply a part of your jaw, the same as your original teeth.
Don’t be alarmed by the term “implant surgery.” Any procedure that involves cutting is “surgery,” but this type of surgery is done under a local anesthetic, no different than having a tooth filled or extracted. You don’t have to worry about pain and you don’t have to be put to sleep. Depending on how many teeth are missing, you might need only a single-tooth implant. If several teeth are missing in sequence, an implant bridge may be the right solution. Either way, implant surgery means that you are having screws implanted into your jaw to hold crowns. Dr. Bernstein does this type of procedure regularly and he can assure you that it is nothing to worry about.
Once the surgery is complete, you will need to take some time for your jaw to heal. Dr. Bernstein will provide you with temporary dentures so that you will be able to smile and chew while you are waiting for your jaw to heal and once that happens (typically in a few months), he will install your crowns and you will have a full, functional smile.
Caring For Your Implants
All you need to do is brush and floss. Treat your implants the same way as you would your natural teeth. See Dr. Bernstein for checkups and cleanings. Your implants won’t decay, but remember that you are still vulnerable to gum disease and anything that harms your gums could cause your implants to fail.
If you would like to learn more about restoring your smile with dental implants, contact Dr. Richard Bernstein at 856-616-9191. We look forward to helping you get the smile you deserve.
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