Dental Implants

DSC_1219At our dental practice in San Diego, we strive to offer the best options for patients looking to restore their smiles.  Implants are the best alternative for replacing your missing teeth because it’s like having your tooth back.  With implants you can chew and floss again like you would with your natural teeth. You don’t have to deal with partial dentures that are uncomfortable to wear and move when you chew.

Implants are created by inserting a titanium or zirconia post in the jaw to support a new crown (cap).  Modern materials and techniques have also made implants more predictable. If you take care of your teeth and clean them properly, implants should last for decades.  The first recorded implant case was in 1965 and the patient still has functional implants.

implantTeeth may also become so weakened by root canals, multiple dental visits or bite stresses that they are no longer good candidates for ongoing dental restorations.  Plus you don’t have to deal with bridges that require adjacent, often healthy, teeth to be ground down so that crowns can support the missing tooth.

Trying to restore questionable teeth is also not a good strategy because you are likely to have another failure. Then you’ll have to invest in saving the tooth all over again, since at some point it will need to be re-treated.

When a root canal tooth fails and has to be retreated, each time you treat the tooth it fails faster than the last time. There is no substitute for a real tooth, however, once a root canal has become re-infected, it may be more cost effective to pull the tooth rather than deal with the possibility of re-treating the same tooth repeatedly.

Upon reviewing your radiographic information, your dentist may be able to determine whether there is sufficient bone to do without bone grafting.  If necessary, it will be recommended as part of the overall treatment.  However there are different types of bone grafting materials and it is important to find out all your options. Ask for more information and/or get a second opinion if you still have questions.

The entire implant process depends on different factors, however, it usually takes four months. Implants can be expensive, depending on who is placing them. In addition there is a wait time between the period when the implant is placed and the time when the crown can be finished.

The same factors that cause you to lose a tooth may cause you to lose an implant.  Some of the more common causes of tooth and implant failure are bite forces such as clenching and grinding, an imbalanced bite, health conditions like diabetes, lifestyle habits like smoking, some medications, and bacteria populations that are present in the mouth. This last cause of tooth failure is rarely understood as it does not cause any symptoms like pain or swelling.

The bacteria causing gum disease can eventually lead to tooth loss and implant loss as well.  This happens by way of erosion of the bone supporting your teeth and implants.  The only way to be sure about the kinds and amounts of bacteria you have in your mouth is to get tested.  The best lab test, Oral DNA Lab, costs around $150.  A saliva sample is taken by your dentist and sent in for results.

Another way to tell is with a microscope evaluation at our office.  This is the best solution for many patients because it can be done during a dental appointment, saving time and money. In comparison with the above test, our patients are charged $75 for the microscope evaluation, so it can be affordable.

Most often test results show the presence of damaging bacteria. The good news is that there are simple and inexpensive ways of treating and decreasing these bacterial populations. Expensive deep cleanings are sometimes unnecessary, because proper home care can be sufficient to solve the problem. You’ll receive a customized home care program and appropriate, conservative in-office treatment will be recommended.

Harmful bacteria should be treated before you have implants to improve the health of all your teeth, not only your implants. It is important to minimize inflammation in your mouth before proceeding with any major dental treatment, and you’ll feel better as well.