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Frequently Asked Questions: Dental Implants

Is the procedure painful?

During the surgical placement of the implant, you will be numbed with a local anesthetic, which means you won’t feel anything.  And after surgery, most of our patients experience very little, if any, pain.  And if there is any discomfort post-operatively, then over-the-counter pain medication like Motrin should be sufficient for managing it.  It may be hard to believe, but many patients often wonder if anything was even surgically placed as they don’t feel a thing.  And for those who want proof, we take an X-ray to show exactly where the implant was placed.

My teeth are really bad.  Am I still a candidate for dental implants?

Even with severely damaged teeth, most people are candidates for dental implants.  Our restorative dentists will analyze the structure of your jaw, gums, and sinuses, as well as assess your overall medical history before determining whether dental implants are the right treatment option for you.

I don’t want people to know I have fake teeth.  Will my smile look like I have real teeth?

That’s where the quality of our prosthetic craftsmanship excels.  Our team specialize in designing natural-looking dental implants.  Our restorative dentists work alongside the most talented ceramists and lab technicians to bring your ideal teeth to life.  And we work with you every step of the way to guarantee you get the smile you want.  We only create masterpieces.

Will I need to take time off work for dental implant surgery?

This depends on the extent of your procedure and your health.  For straightforward single-implant cases with healthy bone and gums, a patient may require virtually no down time.  However, for more complicated procedures and poorer oral health, down time is also limited.

What’s the general procedure of getting dental implants like?

Our restorative dentist begins treatment by taking an impression of your mouth to create a perfect replica of it.  They will then analyze the mechanics of your bite to assess how your upper and lower jaw make contact with each other.  This will determine if you will be required to use a de-programmer to adjust and condition your bite.  This step of correcting and adjusting for optimal bite is not considered in most dental offices who aren’t trained in occlusion.

With the information provided from your CT scan and bite analysis, our restorative dentist will begin planning the surgical approach and the implant fabrication.  Everything is carefully measured and accounted for.  Our obsessive attention to detail is what separates our team from most others.  We don’t settle with “good enough”.

On average, once your implants posts are placed in your jaw, you can expect the final delivery of treatment to be completed anywhere from between 6- to 18-months.  In the meantime, several appointments may be required to assess the progress of healing as well as any possible adjustments made for the temporaries.

How long do dental implants last?

With proper oral hygiene and healthy tissues, a well-integrated implant with appropriate biomechanical loads has a 93-to-98 percent 5-year plus survival rate and 10-to-15 year lifespan for the prosthetic teeth.  Longitudinal studies show a 16- to 20-year success of up to 76%.  If one of your dental implants either doesn’t heal properly or fails after a period of time, you may have it removed.  And after the implant extraction heals, another dental implant can usually be placed.

Will I need medication after dental implant surgery?

Antibiotics will be prescribed after surgery.

What are the risks and complications associated with dental implants?

Dental implant surgery, like any other surgical procedure, is not without its risks.  Here are some of the possible risks and complications for you to consider: 

  • Failure of bone integration: This is the primary reason why those with uncontrolled diabetes cannot receive dental implants.  Such patients don’t heal well enough for an implant to fuse properly with the jaw.  Which is why it’s important to have a proper screening and diagnosis before electing such a surgery.
  • Perforation: During the placement of a dental implant, adjacent structures may be injured and perforated (punctured), such as the sinus above the upper jaw.  Unfortunately, if such a perforation were to occur, this could possibly lead to future sinus infections. In most cases, perforation can be prevented with proper planning.  And if it does happen, it can be managed as well.
  • Infection: Peri-implantitis is a type of periodontal disease that affects the surrounding gum and bone structure around the implant.  If it is left untreated, then bone loss or implant failure could result.  Here are symptoms to look out for:
    • swollen or red gums
    • bleeding or pus of the gums
    • bad breath/taste that persists
    • pain or difficulty chewing
    • fever
    • loose implant
  • Implant Fractures: Occasionally implants can fracture and break under a certain amount of mechanical load.  That is why having your occlusion (the mechanics of your bite) analyzed and accounted for is critical to the success of your implants.  
  • Nerve injury:  This causes numbness or pain in the surrounding tissues if damaged.  This is why it is important to have your dentist do a proper diagnostic evaluation with a CBCT (3D imaging) scan to locate a margin of safety where such a complication is vastly reduced.

Even with these possible risks and complications, dental implant surgery is considered the safest and most predictable of dental surgeries, especially with a thorough diagnostic evaluation and a highly experienced provider.  

What type of teeth will I have while waiting for the dental implants heal?

Patients can choose to have a fixed temporary implant crown for the front tooth or a removable temporary for the front tooth.  The options vary, case by case.  Or full-arch implant prosthesis, fixed or removable temporary prosthesis are both options that are also case by case.   There is no universal answer.   

How do I care for my new dental implants?

Treat your dental implants like you would your teeth.  Brush, floss, and mouthwash 2-3x daily (along with other prescribed aids, if recommended), and visit the dentist at least once every three months, so they can evaluate and maintain your oral health.  Your dental implants are just as susceptible to periodontal disease-causing bacteria, so it is important to maintain them well.

When is my implant restored with a final crown?

Your implant is restored with a final restoration after you’ve properly healed, such that your implants fully integrate with your jaw and your gum tissues appear healthy and infection-free.  The time this takes is dependent on how quickly your body heals.

For additional information about dental implants or to schedule a consultation with a Brushwell restorative dentist, please call our office at (626) 288-8940

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.