If you’re looking to replace teeth that are missing or damaged, dental implants may be your ideal solution. Designed to look, feel and work like the real thing, they’re often able to restore both your confidence and your smile.
With more than 20 years of experience handling all types of dental implant procedures, New Jersey practitioner Dr. Spiros Karas is well-versed in the intricacies of oral surgeries and restorative procedures. At Classic Dental Arts, his private New Jersey practice, he helps his patients decide which procedural solutions best match their needs and lifestyle. If you’re wishing to replace missing or damaged teeth, here’s what you’ll want to know before pursuing dental implants as an oral health solution.
What are dental implants?
When damage or decay occurs, it’s sometimes necessary to replace a tooth root with an artificial alternative. In the case of modern dental implants, these new artificial roots are generally composed of medical-grade titanium and ceramic. Designed to fuse directly with your bone, they offer a stable, low-maintenance solution for missing or damaged teeth.
According to Dr. Spiros Karas, the most prominent forms of dental implants include endosteal implants. As the most common form of implant, endosteal solutions are generally fashioned out of titanium and have an appearance similar to that of a small screw. These implants are placed directly in the jawbone.
Advantages of dental implants
Enticed by the many advantages of dental implants, more than 5.5 million people seek out the procedure on an annual basis. Because they are self-supported, dental implants impose no loss of tooth structure. This means the remaining natural teeth in your mouth will generally not be negatively impacted by the presence of an artificial implant. In fact, Dr. Spiros Karas highlights that dental implants are known to improve overall oral health by providing extra stability to remaining teeth, which helps preserve and protect the jawbone.
Once healed, they’re also relatively convenient to care for. They require no specialized cleaning method and may largely be treated like natural teeth. Most importantly, they look and feel much like natural teeth. From an outsider’s perspective, there is no visual difference between an implant and the real thing—meaning implant patients will be able to speak and eat confidently after the healing process completes.
Risks of dental implants
When performed by an experienced dental practitioner like Dr. Spiros Karas at Classic Dental Arts, implants are generally successful and heal over quickly. That said, the procedure does inherently pose a handful of potential risks. Although Dr. Spiros Karas believes there’s no reason to fear a dental implant procedure, he does assert that it’s best to be aware of any potential complications. These may include:
- Sinus problems
- Injury to the blood vessels
- Damage to the surrounding teeth
- Nerve damage (which may lead to a lack of feeling, pain, or a tingling sensation)
Should you experience any of the aforementioned conditions after your procedure, you’ll want to reach out to your dental practitioner for professional guidance. In many cases, complications can be easily treated.
How to know if dental implants are right for you
Dental implants are a wonderful solution for many individuals with missing or damaged teeth, but they’re certainly not suitable for everyone. Because they rely on the gums, Dr. Spiros Karas generally only recommends the procedure to those who have healthy gums. Ideal candidates should also have enough bone to support an implant, as the procedure requires the implant to fuse effectively to the bone.
Though the placement of a dental implant is a relatively low-risk procedure, it is a surgical operation none-the-less; it’s recommended that only those who are in good general health consider them as an option. Patients with conditions such as diabetes and leukemia may want to refrain from pursuing implants due to possible complications regarding healing times.
If you’re unsure whether you qualify for dental implants, reach out to Classic Dental Arts to make an appointment and receive answers.
What to expect
The placement of dental implants is generally an outpatient surgery. Most often, it is performed in a series of stages rather than a single visit. This allows the body to heal and recover as the procedure progresses, reducing overall shock to the gums and bone.
As detailed by Dr. Spiros Karas, procedural steps often include the removal of the damaged tooth, preparation of the jawbone, placement of the implant, abutment placement, and finally the installation of the artificial tooth. From start to finish, you may expect the procedure to take as long as a few months, though timelines vary from case to case.
Aftercare and the healing process
Fortunately, Dr. Spiros Karas reports that most patients find dental implant surgery relatively tolerable. Moderate discomfort is normal but can generally be managed with the help of over-the-counter pain killers such as ibuprofen. In some cases, minor swelling, bruising, and bleeding may also occur.
As you recover, you’ll want to stick to eating soft foods and attempt to refrain from smoking. Most surgeons now use self-dissolving stitches that do not require removal. If they don’t, you’ll simply need to return to your doctor for an additional visit when the healing process completes in order to have them removed.
After they’ve healed, dental implants should be required in the same manner as natural teeth. Dr. Spiros Karas calls for daily brushing and flossing, along with regular dental checkups and professional cleanings. For extra help cleaning artificial teeth, some professionals advise investing in an interdental brush, which will help you effectively clean between tooth gaps and clear plaque from hard-to-reach areas. With proper care, your new dental implants will last a lifetime.