Missing teeth can be a real downer, especially when the tooth loss is visible when you smile. A smile is worth 1000 words, as they say, as it demonstrates your confidence, and that you are welcoming and kind. When dentures don’t feel like the right solution, however, dental implants are an option to consider. Dental implants preserve your natural tooth tissue and avoid the need for your dentist to cut down your adjacent teeth to place a bridge.

Dental implants also help prevent further bone loss and reduce bone resorption and deterioration significantly. But the decision to get dental implants, just as with any other significant dental or medical procedure, should not be taken lightly. Here is what you should know before getting implants.

Learn About Getting Dental Implants

If your dentist has recommended implants, you probably have a lot of questions. This is only natural, as getting dental implants is a big deal and requires an intensive procedure. Our recommendation is that before making the decision to get implants, you do your homework, so you know everything you need ahead of time and can be prepared for what to expect. We’ve tried to make that a bit easier for you by outlining the 7 things you should know before getting dental implants.

1. Understand what dental implants are.

If you are at the point where your dentist has recommended dental implants, you are probably clear on what they are. However, in the event that you are reading this article to help better educate yourself on options to improve your smile by replacing missing teeth, let’s ensure you have at least a high-level understanding of what dental implants are.

Simply defined, dental implants consist of a titanium post that acts as a replacement root for your teeth. That post is placed securely in your jaw bone, and once you have healed, is completed with a natural-looking crown. Implants provide a solid foundation for permanent replacement teeth that are designed to match your natural teeth.

2. Look for a dentist with experience placing dental implants.

Not just any dentist can place dental implants. The right dentist will have spent several years in specialized training on surgical management of tissue and implant placement. This training will educate the dentist on anatomical, biological, and technical principles that must be understood to ensure that patients receive the results that they desire and should expect. So, be sure to ask your dentist about their experience with placing dental implants, and the education that they received to train them to do so.

3. Don’t hesitate to get a second opinion.

The decision to get dental implants is not one that should be taken lightly. Though it is not crucial to get a second opinion if your dentist has a proven track record of dental implant success, it is still not a bad idea to get one. Dental insurance rarely covers the full cost of dental implants, and the procedure itself is one of the more costly options.

Though most patients will tell you that getting dental implants was the best thing they ever did for their smile and oral health, you need to make sure it is the right decision for you. So, if you have any questions or hesitations, be sure to seek out a second opinion from another reputable dentist.

4. Understand the cost of dental implants.

A common question we hear is about dental implant costs, and this is to be expected. Dental implants are more expensive than other options, such as dentures or a bridge. The important thing to remember is that you are investing in your long-term oral health. Sure, dentures and bridges are cheaper in the initial stages, but dentures need to be replaced every seven to 10 years, which can see the costs add up, and may even mean they are most expensive in the long run.

Dental implants last a lifetime with proper oral care, and they have deeper benefits, such as maintaining jaw bone health, that put them ahead in terms of value for money.

5. The pros and cons of dental implants.

There is no denying that getting dental implants can be a life-changing experience, especially if your missing teeth have compromised your oral health or your confidence with your smile. But what are the pros and cons? On the pro side, dental implants can last forever. They mimic your natural teeth. They are often more cost-effective than other restoration procedures despite their high up-front costs, and you can replace as many teeth as you need to, all as part of the same treatment plan.

On the con side, you should know that not everyone is a candidate for dental implants. You also need to have enough bone to hold your new dental implants in place. We’ve stated already that dental implants involve an up-front expense, but they are often more cost-effective than other procedures (see #4). Further, the process to get dental implants requires a time commitment and is quite invasive. Dental implant surgery requires several phases of treatment and you will require multiple appointments over the duration of approximately six months.

6. The preparation phase of dental implant surgery.

Preparing for your dental implant treatment is a time commitment. And, you may meet with multiple specialists, including an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who specializes in the mouth, jaw, and face; a periodontist who specializes in the structures that support the teeth; a prosthodontist who specializes in designing and fitting artificial teeth; and, occasionally, an ENT who specializes in the ears, nose, and throat.

You will need to undergo a comprehensive dental exam consisting of X-rays and 3D images so that models of your teeth and jaw can be made. Your dentist will make a thorough review of your medical history and will need to understand any medical conditions you have and any medications you take, such as prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements.

Further, if you suffer from certain heart conditions or have an orthopedic implant, your dentist may want you to take certain antibiotics before your dental implant surgery to help prevent infection. Finally, your specific treatment plan will take into account your current state of health and the number of teeth you need replaced, as well as the condition of your jawbone and remaining natural teeth.

7. The recovery phase of dental implant surgery.

We recommend that dental implant patients take two to five days off work, depending on the types of job duties they have. For patients who have a physically demanding job, more time off might be needed than for someone who has a more sedentary day. Your overall health, physical stamina, and specific details of your surgery will also need to be considered.

You should expect that you will need to rest for three or four days, and any tenderness and swelling are normal. You will also need to avoid strenuous exercise for several days to lessen the risk of bleeding. We usually suggest that patients wait for their stitches to dissolve or fall out before they pick back up on heavy exercise.

An important part of recovery after dental implant surgery is to stick to a soft-food diet that contains sufficient calories, protein, and nutrients to improve recovery and overall health. Look for foods such as soups, smoothies, yogurt, and applesauce.

After you are sufficiently healed from your procedure, approximately one week later, we recommend that patients continue to maintain good oral health and whole-body health, including maintaining a healthy diet with tooth-friendly foods, and a good oral hygiene regimen each day.

First Dental Associates can guide you through a successful dental implant placement.

The team at First Dental Associates will be more than happy to partner with you to determine not only if you are a candidate for dental implant surgery, but if it is the right decision for you. And the best place to start is with a consultation. So if you have been researching dental implants near Reading, MA, you have come to the right place.

Request an appointment today so that we can understand your needs and help you determine if a single tooth implant or full-mouth dental implants are right for you. We look forward to hearing from you.