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Dental Implants

Dental Implants- Restore Prosthodontics & Implant Center

A Long-Lasting Way to Restore Teeth in Knoxville, TN

Dental implants offer hope to patients struggling with the challenges of missing one or more teeth. This transformative dental procedure goes beyond aesthetics - it can help you reclaim the joy of effortless speaking, the pleasure of savoring your favorite foods, and the freedom to laugh unguarded with friends and family. Whether you're exploring dental implants out of necessity or desire, understanding the impact they can have on your daily life and self-esteem is the first step towards a brighter, more confident you. Dr. Thomas is proud to offer dental implants in Knoxville, TN, and surrounding areas. 

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are a state-of-the-art solution for replacing missing teeth, offering a way to restore both your smile and the functionality of your natural teeth. At their core, dental implants are small, sturdy posts, typically made of titanium, that serve as artificial tooth roots. These posts are surgically placed into the jawbone beneath your gums, where they fuse with the bone over a period of months in a process known as osseointegration. This fusion creates a solid foundation for supporting artificial teeth, such as crowns, bridges, or dentures.

The implant itself acts as the anchor for the replacement tooth. Once the implant has bonded with the jawbone, a small connector, known as an abutment, is attached to the top of the implant to securely hold the new tooth. The replacement teeth are custom-made to match your natural teeth in color, shape, and size, ensuring that the dental implant looks, feels, and functions just like a natural tooth.

An example of the structure of a dental implant

What are the advantages?

The main advantage of dental implants is that they can replace missing teeth without affecting the neighboring teeth. For example, if you are missing a single tooth, one option could be to drill the teeth in front and behind the space and place a three-unit bridge (that is cemented in place). Another option would be to have a removable denture or flipper-type device that replaces the missing tooth that you take in and out at night. 

A second important advantage of implants is that, unlike real teeth, implants do not decay. Thus, when you are faced with a decision to have a root canal, post and crown or have a dental implant, the implant is often a better option because the implant will almost always last longer. Here are some additional benefits to consider: 

  • Natural Look and Feel: Dental implants are designed to mimic the look, feel, and function of your natural teeth, offering a comfortable and seamless fit.
  • Improved Oral Health: Unlike traditional bridges, implants do not require altering adjacent teeth, preserving more of your natural tooth structure. They also help prevent bone loss in the jaw, maintaining the integrity of your facial structure.
  • Durability and Reliability: With proper care, implants can last a lifetime. They are made from materials that integrate with your bone, providing a stable and durable foundation for replacement teeth.
  • Enhanced Comfort: Once dental implants are fully integrated into your jawbone, they eliminate the discomfort often associated with removable dentures.
  • Better Eating and Speaking: Implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat your favorite foods with confidence and without pain. They also help improve speech by eliminating the worry that teeth might slip.
  • Convenience: Dental implants eliminate the need for messy adhesives to keep dentures in place and the inconvenience of removing dentures for cleaning.
  • Boosted Self-Esteem: Dental implants can give you back your smile and help you feel better about yourself, significantly improving your self-esteem.
  • Long-Term Oral Health: Implants offer long-term benefits for your oral health. They can help prevent bone deterioration in the jaw and preserve the natural alignment of surrounding teeth.

How do dental implants work? What are the parts?

A dental implant is made up of three parts: the first part is the implant itself, which is surgically placed in the bone (in the office). The second part is the abutment – the part that connects the implant to the implant crown. The third and final part is the implant crown. It functions as would a crown on one of your natural teeth — and in this case it connects to the abutment which connects to the implant itself.

How long does it take to have an implant placed?

The procedure to have an implant placed can often take less than 30 minutes. However, the time from start to finish — implant placement to completed crown – is usually in the 3-9 month range because of the time is takes for the implant to osseointegrate (fuse with the bone). If the amount of bone for placing the implant was limited, and a bone graft was placed, it may take a few months more because the bone graft has to heal in place as well.

What if I need more than one implant?

One of the great things about dental implants is that they can be used as a replacement for a missing tooth or teeth and can also be used to replace an entire arch of teeth! For example, one of the most common and beneficial uses of dental implants is as an implant denture– a denture that’s held in with implants. Many patients who wear lower dentures struggle because of the way the lower jaw loses bone, and a traditional denture that’s supported in part with dental implants can provide a world of difference for eating, smiling, and feeling confident in public again!

Learn more about full arch dental implants and All On 4 implants here!

The Procedure

The dental implant procedure is a transformative journey towards restoring your smile and functionality of your teeth. It's a careful process that unfolds over several stages, ensuring the best outcome for your oral health and comfort. Here's a step-by-step guide to what you can expect:

1. Initial Consultation

Your journey begins with an in-depth consultation. During this visit, your prosthodontist in Knoxville, TN, Dr. Thomas, will conduct a thorough examination of your oral health, which may include X-rays and 3D images. This assessment helps in determining if dental implants are the right option for you, considering factors like bone density and the health of your gums.

2. Treatment Planning

Based on the initial evaluation, a personalized treatment plan is crafted. This plan takes into account the specifics of your case, such as how many teeth need to be replaced and the condition of your jawbone. Our team will discuss all aspects of the plan with you, including the timeline and what to expect at each stage.

3. Preparation and Bone Grafting (If Necessary)

If your jawbone isn't thick enough or is too soft, you might need bone grafting before you can have dental implant surgery. This process involves transplanting a piece of bone from another part of your body or using a special bone grafting material to reinforce your jawbone. If needed, this will add to the overall timeline but is crucial for ensuring the success of the implant.

4. Dental Implant Placement

The implant surgery is performed under local anesthesia to minimize discomfort. Your surgeon will make a small incision in your gum to expose the bone and then drill a hole where the dental implant titanium post will be inserted. This post serves as a new root for your tooth. Following the placement, a period of healing is required for the implant to osseointegrate, or fuse, with your jawbone, a process that can take several months.

5. Healing and Bone Integration

After the implant has been placed, the healing process begins. During this time, the implant integrates with the bone, a critical phase known as osseointegration. You might have temporary dentures and eat a soft diet during this period to ensure the best healing environment for the implant.

6. Abutment Placement

Once the implant has fused with the jawbone, the next phase involves placing the abutment - an extension of the implant's metal post. This minor surgery is usually done with local anesthesia. After the abutment is placed, there's a healing period to allow the soft tissues and the gum to heal properly around the abutment.

7. Artificial Tooth Attachment

After your gums heal, impressions of your mouth and remaining teeth are made to create the crown (artificial tooth). The crown is then attached to the abutment, ensuring the fit and appearance match your natural teeth.

8. Post-Procedure Care

Following the placement of your new tooth, your dentist will provide detailed care instructions. While dental implants require the same care as your natural teeth—brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups - they offer a durable and long-lasting solution to tooth loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dental implants safe?

Dental implants are widely considered a safe and effective solution for replacing missing teeth, with a high success rate when performed by an experienced dental professional. They are made from biocompatible materials, such as titanium, which integrate well with the jawbone and minimize the risk of rejection. As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved, but these are generally low and can be further minimized with proper planning and post-operative care. Regular check-ups and maintaining good oral hygiene can ensure the longevity and safety of dental implants.

How long do dental implants last?

Dental implants are designed to be a long-lasting solution for tooth loss and, with proper care, can last a lifetime. The implant itself, which is the titanium post inserted into the jawbone, can last indefinitely with good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups. The crown (or artificial tooth) attached to the implant may need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years, depending on wear and tear. Factors such as smoking, poor oral hygiene, and certain medical conditions can affect the durability of dental implants.

Can anyone get dental implants?

Most people who are in good general health and have enough bone in their jaw to support an implant can be considered for dental implants. However, certain conditions, such as uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, radiation to the jaws, smoking, alcoholism, or uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, may require additional evaluation and treatment to increase the success rate of the implant. A thorough evaluation by a prosthodontist will determine if dental implants are the right option for you. It's important for patients to have realistic expectations and understand the process involved in getting dental implants.

Is the procedure painful?

The dental implant procedure is performed under local anesthesia, which numbs the area, so you should not feel pain during the surgery. Post-operative discomfort varies from person to person but is generally manageable with over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribed medication. Most patients report that the discomfort is less than they anticipated and note that it's quite manageable, especially considering the long-term benefits of dental implants. Following the aftercare instructions provided by our team can help minimize any discomfort and promote healing.

How do I care for my new smile?

Caring for dental implants is similar to caring for your natural teeth, involving regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups. It's important to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent infections around the implant. Special brushes, such as interdental brushes that slide between teeth, can help clean the hard-to-reach areas around the implant. Regular visits to your dentist for check-ups and cleanings are also crucial to ensure the health and longevity of your implants.

What is the success rate of dental implants?

The success rate of dental implants varies, depending on where in the jaw the implants are placed but is generally high, with studies showing rates over 90%. Factors that can influence the success of dental implants include the patient's overall health and oral hygiene. Smoking and certain medical conditions can lower the success rate of dental implants. With proper care and maintenance, dental implants can provide a successful, long-lasting solution for missing teeth.

Restore Your Smile With Dental Implants in Knoxville, TN

Are you ready to experience the ultimate tooth replacement solution? Give Restore Prosthodontics & Implant Center a call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Thomas today! 

We also offer complimentary virtual consultations, which can help you establish a rapport with our team and lay the groundwork for your smile restoration!

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Dr. Thomas Is Always Welcoming New Patients

If you have any questions for Dr. Thomas and Restore Prosthodontics & Implant Center please let us know. We would be happy to schedule a time to meet with you.