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After Implant Placement

What Can I Use For Teeth While The Implants Heal? 

Many options are available, and they are tailored to your specific requirements.  If you need a replacement tooth while the implants are healing, your dentist can make temporary removable teeth or a temporary bridge.  If all of your teeth are missing, we can usually modify your present complete denture or make you a new temporary denture.

What Are The Potential Problems?

Although it is natural to be concerned about the pain that may be caused by these procedures, most patients do not experience severe or significant post-operative pain.  Pain medication and antibiotics will be prescribed for you to make your recovery as easy as possible.  Occasionally, some people develop post-operative infections that require additional antibiotic treatment.  Even though great care is taken to place the implant precisely, occasionally adjacent teeth are injured in the placement process.

In addition, there is a chance that the nerve in the lower jaw, which provides sensation to your lower lip and chin, may be affected.  If you are missing quite a lot of bone, it might be difficult to place an implant without infringing on the nerve space.  Although we take great care to avoid this nerve, occasionally it is irritated during the procedure, resulting in tingling, numbness, a feeling of discomfort, or a complete lack of sensation in your lip, chin or tongue.  Usually, these altered sensations will resolve within time, but they can be permanent and/or painful.  If you notify us of post-operative numbness as soon as possible, it will allow us to manage your care in the most appropriate way. 

Although implants have very high success rates when placed by a specialist, they can sometimes fail to fuse with the bone.  If this occurs, the implant will need to be removed and the site will be bone grafted and allowed to heal before a new implant can be placed in the area.

How Long Will The Implants Last?

Implants usually last a long time when placed by specialists such as a periodontist.  When patients are missing all of their teeth, long-term studies (more than 30 years) show an 80 to 90 percent success rate.  For patients missing one or several teeth, recent studies show a success rate of greater than 95 percent, which compares favorably with other areas in the body that receive implant replacement (such as hips or knees).  However, if one of your dental implants either doesn’t heal properly or loosens after a period of time, you may need to have it removed.  After the site heals (or on occasion at the time of removal), another implant usually can be placed.

When Are The Replacement Teeth Attached To The Implant?

The replacement teeth are usually attached to the implant when adequate healing has occurred and your jawbone is firmly fused to the implant, which is usually around 3 months. Depending on a variety of factors, it may be possible to begin this phase of your treatment immediately or shortly after implant placement.  We will review the most appropriate treatment sequence and timing for your particular situation.

The dental work required to complete your treatment is complex.  Most of the work involves actually making the new teeth before they are placed.  Your appointments are considered more comfortable and more pleasant than previous methods of tooth replacement.  Frequently, this process can be performed without local anesthesia.

Your restorative treatment begins with specialized impressions that allow your dentist to produce a replica of your mouth and implants.  Your dentist will also make “bite” records so that we see the relationship of your upper and lower jaws.  With this information, your dentist will make the abutments (support posts) that attach your replacement teeth to your implants.  Various types of abutments exist.  Frequently, your dentist can use “off the shelf” abutments.  Other times, custom abutments must be made of gold, titanium, or a tooth-colored ceramic material.  Which abutment to use is a decision that often cannot be made until after healing is complete and impressions have been made.

The number of appointments and the amount of time required for each appointment is different for each patient.  No two cases are exactly the same and regardless of the number of teeth replaced, the work must be completed with great precision and attention to detail.  If you are having only a few teeth replaced, as few as three short appointments may be required.  Between appointments, your dentist will need time to complete the necessary lab work to make your replacement teeth. It is most beneficial that you keep all of your scheduled appointments.

If your final restoration is a removable denture, you will need to come to as many as five office appointments (although it may be fewer) over the following several months.  During these appointments, your dentist will perform a series of impressions, bites and adjustments in order to make your new teeth, as well as the custom support bars, snaps, magnets, or clips that will secure your teeth to the implants.  During this period, every effort will be made to ensure you have comfortable, temporary replacement teeth.

In general, once your implants are placed, you can expect your tooth replacement treatment to be completed anywhere from 1 to 12 months.  For these reasons, it is difficult for us to tell you exactly how much the restorative phase of your treatment will cost, although you should receive a reasonable estimate from your dentist.  It also is difficult to give you a specific timeframe for completion of your treatment until after the implants are ready for restoration.

How Do I Clean My New Teeth and Implants?

As with natural teeth, it is important that you clean implant-supported restorations regularly with toothbrushes, floss and any other recommended aids.  Automatic and “high tech” electronic toothbrushes are safe and effective for the majority of users.  Oral irrigators (Water spraying devices) will rinse your mouth thoroughly, and remove loosened plaque and food debris.  Ideal oral hygiene involves brushing and flossing followed by using an oral irrigator.  We see excellent results with the electric toothbrushes such as Braun Oral B and Phillips Sonicare brands.  Hydrofloss and Waterpik brands of oral irrigators have been helpful for many of our patients.

You should also visit your dentist several times each year for hygiene and maintenance.  As with regular dentures and other tooth replacements, your implants and their associated components are subject to wear and tear and eventually will need repair, including clip replacement, relines, screw tightening, and other adjustments.

Gum disease can form around implants just as it can around natural teeth.  It is very important that the implants be kept clean.  If gum disease does form around the implants, conditions such as peri-implant mucositis and peri-implantitis can occur.  This leads to damage and destruction of the bone supporting the implants.  These implant diseases are difficult to treat and oftentimes result in loss of the implants.

Will One Doctor Do Everything?

A surgeon such as a periodontist places the implant(s) and performs other necessary surgical procedures – your general dentist provides the temporary and permanent replacement teeth.  Both doctors are involved in planning your dental treatment.  Also, depending upon a variety of factors, different dental specialists may help with your dental care.

How Much Does All Of This Cost?

Before treatment begins, every effort will be made to give you an accurate estimate of all the expenses involved in placing the implants.  Your dentist can assist in estimating the cost for restoring the implant(s).  There is an initial charge for the consultation and diagnostic work-up, including study models, x-rays, CBCT scan, and the fabrication of a surgical/radiographic template to ensure the best possible result.  There is a surgical charge for extractions, sinus elevations, bone grafting, soft-tissue grafting, and implant placement procedures.  In addition your restorative dentist will charge for the abutment or support post(s), plus the crown, dentures, or anything else that will be placed over the implants, including temporary restorations.  Periodic maintenance such as hygiene visits, tissue conditioners, denture relines and other repairs will also incur additional charges.

When different doctors are involved in your treatment, you will be charged separately for their services.  We will try to assist you in estimating what your actual payments will be after we evaluate your insurance coverage or other third party payments.  Also, you should consider your personal financial investment in each treatment option as some insurance companies provide limited or no coverage.

Each patient is unique, and it is not possible for us to discuss every option and every contingency for treatment outcome.  This site is intended to help you understand the general treatment options available to you.  If your specific treatment options are not clear, please contact us, and we will be happy to answer any questions you have about your dental care.

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