While considering tooth replacement options, you’re bound to have questions about dental implants. And there’s no better source of information than a local dentist who has performed this type of procedure for years successfully, giving full, natural-looking smiles back to a wide range of satisfied patients from Knoxville and the surrounding communities.
10 Questions About Dental Implants
Dr. Mullins at My Family Dentistry knows dental implants. In fact, dental implants are one of our most popular services. Here are his expert answers to your most commonly asked questions about this safe and life-changing procedure.
1. What are dental implants?
Dental implants are “simply a way for us to replace teeth. It’s the number one way for us to replace teeth today – in fact, it’s the best prognosis.” Dental implants have 3 main parts:
- A (usually) titanium fixture that is placed in your jawbone
- The connecting piece, called the abutment
- A ceramic crown, topping the abutment, acts and looks like a natural tooth
Once the procedure is done and the affected area is healed, “you floss and brush dental implants just like [normal] teeth.”
2. When do people need dental implants?
The #1 reason for anyone to get dental implants today is “to restore a missing tooth.” The most commonly missing teeth are first molars, “which are crucial to chewing.” Eating is one of the most vital actions you perform with your teeth, so making sure you can do so effectively and comfortably is a great reason to get dental implants.
The #2 reason is to replace a full complement of teeth. For people that have lost all of their teeth and have “dentures and prosthetics that don’t fit well…dental implants can change a patient’s life.” When healthy tooth function is replaced as they are with implants, it’s then possible to eat better foods in greater variety, which can help improve diet and other related conditions, like diabetes.
3. How long do dental implants last?
A successful dental implant can last “predictably a lifetime if not for life.” This is because the materials used are so durable, they can last as long as or beyond the life of the typical patient. Most recipients can expect 20+ years from their implants without needing replacement.
4. How long does the surgery take?
When you make an appointment for dental implant surgery, “you’re going to spend about an hour in [our] office, from the time you walk in and the time you walk out.” It can take longer for the local anesthesia to numb the area before starting, but in general, “it doesn’t take a lot of time out of your schedule.”
5. Does dental implant surgery hurt?
The answer is, simply, that “pain is the most common complication of any surgery.” Dental implant surgery has its share of discomfort, but we take great care to numb the area beforehand and use the least invasive techniques so that pain is minimized. We’ll also provide instruction for managing your pain effectively (usually with rest and over the counter medication) until you’re fully healed.
6. Can I get implants if my teeth have been missing a long time?
If a patient has been missing a tooth or teeth for a long time, “we do an evaluation of the bone.” During a dental exam, Dr. Mullins will “feel your gum tissue, feel your bone, and look in your mouth” to assess your oral health and get a complete picture of your wants, needs, and desires for tooth replacement to help determine whether it’s a good option for you.
7. Can you get implants to replace multiple teeth?
Most definitely. One of the top things that Dr. Mullins loves to do is “to help someone replace multiple teeth.” Dental implants can replace many teeth, from the front four teeth to a whole arch (12-14 teeth) previously covered by dentures. Afterward, patients can chew, talk, and smile confidently without anyone else realizing they’re implants.
8. What are the pros and cons of implants?
- Dental implants are the most successful tooth replacement option
- Only replace what needs replacing (“keep a one tooth problem a one tooth problem”)
- Hygiene, like flossing, is performed the same as with normal teeth
- You may require steps to improve your jaw and gum health before dental implant surgery, which can take a while
- Dental implants are more expensive than other procedures
9. What should I consider before getting dental implants?
Before you decide whether or not to get dental implants, “visit with a dentist that is familiar with dental implants and get a comprehensive oral exam.” You may have other problems that could impact whether implants are the best solution for you. Let your dentist know your concerns and listen to their opinion to help you decide whether the present condition of your mouth, your particular needs, and the results you want make you a good candidate.
10. How can I find out if they’re right for me?
If you want to learn more about dental implants and find out if they’re right for you, set up an appointment at My Family Dentistry with Dr. Mullins. He’ll take you through an oral exam and provide expert insight into the health of your gums and jaw, so you can decide together how to proceed.
Now that you know more about dental implants, it’s time to find out whether they’re a tooth replacement option you want to explore. Schedule your dental implant consultation today.