Dental Implants: What You Need to Know Before Taking the Plunge

By Dr. James Forester | Feb 8, 2024 | Dental Implants
Illustration of teeth showing dental implant structure

If you haven’t already heard, let us be the first to tell you: Dental implants are an effective and permanent restorative dentistry solution for those dealing with missing teeth. Indeed, these remarkable artificial tooth roots are the best way to complete your smile and prevent further dental issues in the future. But before you embark on the journey to restore your smile, it’s essential to understand the various aspects of dental implants.

If you want to learn more about this revolutionary treatment, then a consultation with Dr. James G. Forester at Lifetime Smiles in Johns Creek, GA, is a great place to start. Dial (770) 232-1830 to reserve your appointment today!

From preparatory procedures to postoperative care, dental implants require careful thought and consideration. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know before getting dental implants, ensuring you make informed decisions for a successful and lasting outcome.

Preparatory Procedures

As the term suggests, preparatory procedures for dental implant surgery focus on getting the teeth, gums, and jawbone as healthy as possible before beginning treatment. These procedures may include:

Dental Evaluation

Before diving into the world of dental implants, a thorough dental evaluation is crucial. Your dentist must assess your oral health, bone density, and overall suitability for the procedure before beginning treatment. This evaluation may involve X-rays, CT scans, and a discussion of your medical history.

Bone Grafting

Adequate bone density is essential for both the short- and long-term success of dental implants. If your jawbone lacks the necessary volume, then your dentist may recommend bone grafting. This procedure involves transplanting donor tissue to weak areas of the jaw for added support

Gum Disease Treatment

Gum disease is a common problem that many patients deal with. In fact, experts believe that roughly half of all adults over the age of 30 are currently struggling with this smile-destroying disease

Patients who want to pursue implant surgery must first resolve gum disease. Otherwise, the implant may not heal properly, leading to complications and, potentially, implant failure. Luckily, plenty of treatments exist to treat the condition and improve gum health before implant surgery.

Treatment Planning

Once your dentist has gathered the necessary information, then you and your dental care team can begin creating a detailed treatment plan. This plan includes the number of implants needed, the type of implant required, and the placement strategy. Clear communication with your dental team is vital at this stage to address any concerns or questions you may have.

Pros and Cons of Dental Implants

For most patients, tooth implants are a game-changer. However, that does not mean that this treatment is without its drawbacks. Here, we give you some of the main advantages and disadvantages of dental implant surgery:

Advantages

The primary advantages of this treatment include:

  • Natural Appearance: Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth, providing a seamless and aesthetically pleasing smile.
  • Durability: Implants are a long-term solution, potentially lasting a lifetime when cared for properly.
  • Improved Functionality: Unlike removable dentures, implants restore full chewing functionality, allowing you to enjoy a diverse range of foods.
  • Preservation of Jawbone: Implants stimulate the jawbone, preventing deterioration and maintaining facial structure.

Disadvantages

The primary disadvantages of this treatment include:

  • Cost: Dental implants can be more expensive than alternative tooth replacement options.
  • Surgery: The implant placement involves a surgical procedure, which may not be suitable for everyone.
  • Time-Consuming Process: The entire implant process, including healing and restoration, can take several months.
  • Risk of Complications: As with any surgery, there is a minimal risk of infection, nerve damage, or implant failure.

What to Expect During Treatment

The dental implant process progresses in phases, usually beginning with in-depth planning before moving forward with surgery. Here’s what to expect:

Surgical Procedure

To place dental implants, dentists must insert a short, metal screw into the jawbone. This requires oral surgery, for which local anesthesia and sedation may be used. Once the metal screw is inserted into the jawbone, it must fuse with the tissue for optimal stability. 

Healing Period

The implant must integrate with the jawbone through a process called osseointegration before it can support a restoration. This can take several weeks to a few months, during which you’ll follow a soft diet and avoid putting excessive pressure on the implant site.

Abutment Placement

Once osseointegration is complete, your dentist can attach an abutment piece to the implant. This serves as the connection between the implant and the final restoration. After your dentist places the abutment, the gum tissue must heal around it for a few weeks before placing the final restoration.

Final Restoration

The last step involves attaching the permanent crown, bridge, or denture to the abutment. Dental professionals custom-craft these restorations to match the color, shape, and size of your natural teeth.

Postoperative Care Instructions

Postoperative care is key to successful implantation. Here’s a quick rundown of postoperative care instructions following dental implant surgery:

Oral Hygiene

Maintaining superior oral hygiene is key for implant success. This means:

  • Gently brushing after meals or at least twice a day
  • Flossing regularly
  • Rinsing with anti-microbial mouthwash.

Regular Dental Check-ups

Scheduling and attending regular check-ups with your dentist is essential for monitoring the health of your implants and addressing any issues promptly. Furthermore, professional cleanings can help prevent gum disease, which can jeopardize the stability of implants.

Avoiding Harmful Habits

Steer clear of habits that can damage your implants, such as chewing on hard objects or using your teeth as tools. These actions can compromise the integrity of the implant and its surrounding structures.

Tips and Tricks for Long-Term Implant Success

While many patients experience great success with their implants, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you get the most out of your treatment, such as:

Dietary Considerations

While dental implants restore chewing functionality, it is wise to limit or avoid excessively hard or sticky foods. Instead, opt for a well-balanced diet that supports overall oral health.

Tobacco Cessation

Smoking can significantly impact the success of dental implants by slowing down the healing process and increasing the risk of complications. Quitting smoking is a positive step toward ensuring the longevity of your implants.

Protection During Sports

If you participate in contact sports or activities with a risk of facial injury, use a mouthguard to protect your implants and natural teeth from trauma.

Schedule a Dental Implant Consultation in Johns Creek, GA

Dental implants offer a life-changing solution for those with missing teeth. Want to verify your candidacy? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Forester at Lifetime Smiles today. You can request your appointment online, or you can call our team at (770) 232-1830 for more information and scheduling.