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Dental Implants Frequently Asked Questions

The decision to have dental implants inserted is such a personal one and it can be difficult.  So, when the decision is finally made, an individual usually wants to make an appointment and have it done-immediately- as in right NOW!

However, before running to have the implants inserted, there is some research to be done and there are questions to ask of your dental specialist.

Q. What type of anesthesia will be used?

Anesthesia typically involves intravenous sedation.  Because of this, the patient should avoid driving and operating heavy machinery for 24-36 hours.

Q. Who will place my implants?

The implants are placed by a specialist, specifically trained and certified in implants.  Training consists of 3 years of dental school and after showing proficiency in this and passing examinations, the dentist goes on to 2-3 years of specialty training with implants.

Q. What are the dentist’s qualifications and experience?

 See how many implants the dentist has placed prior to you and that he/she is certified by a specific licensing agency.

Q. How many visits will be necessary for the implants?

The number of visits will be dependent on whether the implant is porcelain or resin and whether it is fabricated by an outside dental laboratory or done in the office.  These variables must be discussed with the dental office so that there is no doubt or confusion as to how the process will take place.

Q. Am I a candidate for the procedure?

Not everyone is a candidate for implants.  Discuss this thoroughly with the reconstruction dentist including all medications that you are on, and you’re past history.

Q. Will all my treatments be done in one office location?

There are offices were there is an on-site laboratory for fabrication of the implants.  This is something that varies between offices and is a good question to have answered.

Q. Will there be special diagnostic or radiographic tests prior to dental implantation?

Many offices use CAT Scans and get a three-dimensional image including the location of the blood vessels, nerves and sinuses to optimize placement of the implants.

Q. What happens if an implant fails?

Should an implant fail, another one can be inserted in its place.  Should it be due to infection or gingivitis, the inflammation and infection needs to be treated first.

Q. How long do implants last?

This is dependent on how fastidious the individual is with oral hygiene, daily brushing, and elimination of smoking and diminished consumption of high sugar content food. They can last more than 15 years.

Q. Is there special care or follow-up for these implants?

After implants have been deemed successful, routine visits may be done in the regular family dental office.

Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?

Before considering a consultation with your dental implant specialist, take a good look at yourself, your health and your habits.

Are you in good health?  If you have diabetes is it under control?  How about hypertension?  Having diabetes, high blood pressure, immunosuppressive disorders, and cardiovascular problems may cause constricted blood vessels leading to decrease blood flow to surgical sites.  Consider taking care of all medical problems first.

Success of dental implantations depends on the state of blood vessels transporting the needed blood for nutritional and oxygen exchanges for healing as well as the state of bone.

Do you smoke?  In addition to the tar, which gets deposited along the gum lines and causes teeth discoloration, there is more than just a cosmetic complication with tobacco products.  Although the exact etiology has not been pinpointed, a strong correlation suggests that the nicotine in cigarettes (which has been proven to constrict blood vessels) causes a decreased blood flow to the implantation sites, impeding the healing process and thereby causing a much higher rate for failure or rejection of the implant.

Consider discontinuing all tobacco products first.  This may necessitate a smoking cessation program, which to be successful, may take 10-12 weeks.  Waiting for 4-6 months for urges to dissipate and improved health to return, will increase the success rate of dental implant placements.

Are you taking biphosphonates for treatment of osteoporosis?  Notify your dentist about this.  It has been

discovered that while this drug can increase bone mass density and reduce fractures in the hips, it is associated with resorption of bone along the jaw.  This would doom your implant procedure to failure.

Do you suffer from bruxism? (Excessive grinding of teeth and clenching your jaw at night)  Let your dentist know (although your teeth may tell on you).  Grinding your teeth puts undue pressure on any dental implants.  However, this problem can be readily addressed by sleeping with a dental guard that the dentist can make from a mold of your dentition to prevent the effects of this grinding.

How long has it been since you have lost the tooth that you want replaced with an implant?  Gaps in dentition due to loss of teeth cause shifting of the surrounding teeth.  In addition to this, the jawbone starts to undergo thinning of the bone in the area of the missing tooth (resorption).  Bone decrease in the implantation site will cause a greater risk of failure from the implant adapting to its surgical site. For the implant to take, the adjacent bone must bond with the implant (osseo integration).  If there is not enough healthy bone at the surgical site, this integration cannot take place.

Should this be your problem, have no worries.  Your dentist has two solutions that can still make you eligible for dental implants. The first involves a special type of implant that sits above the bone but under the gum line.  The second one involves grafting of bone.

When dental implants are inserted properly, they can last 15-25 years.  Perhaps even longer as newer techniques are devised.

So, cheer up!  Having functional, beautiful teeth with no gaps may be yours with treatment from your dental implant specialist.