What do you need to know before getting full-arch dental implants?
It’s estimated that 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth, and about 40 million are missing all of their teeth. If you’re one of these people, you know that missing or broken teeth affect more than your smile and oral health. They can erode your quality of life.
Full-arch dental implants can help restore your smile and your self-confidence. Here’s everything you need to know to determine if they’re right for you.
What are full-arch dental implants?
Dental implants are strong, life-like teeth inserted into the jawbone via small rods. Over time, dental implants bond with the jawbone, making them more permanent than other options such as dentures.
Dental implants can replace a single tooth, but full-arch dental implants are different. They consist of an entire row of strong, natural-looking teeth. For this reason, they can be a good option for people who have several missing or broken teeth.
Full-arch dental implants have several advantages over dentures:
- Because they fuse to the jawbone, full-arch dental implants are more secure than dentures. They won’t slip, make noise or interfere with chewing and speaking.
- Full-arch dental implants help support bone structure that can otherwise deteriorate over time. This deterioration can lead to changes in facial structure and a less youthful appearance.
- Full-arch dental implants are permanent, unlike dentures, which require more maintenance and even replacement every few years.
- Like natural teeth, full-arch dental implants are cared for by regular brushing.
Who is best suited for full-arch dental implants?
Although healthy men and women of all ages have gotten full-arch dental implants, prime candidates for the procedure share some common characteristics:
- They’ve had past dental work, such as bridges or crowns, but they’re unsatisfied with the results.
- They’re missing some or most of their teeth.
- They have dental damage through the majority of the mouth.
- They have worn dentures but are looking for a more permanent solution.
- They have adequate bone to secure the implants.
- They have healthy oral tissues.
- They don’t have health conditions that will affect bone healing.
To get full-arch dental implants, you must be generally healthy and have good oral hygiene. If you have tooth decay or gum disease, these problems will need to be resolved before your doctor can place the implants. If you smoke, your doctor will likely encourage you to stop before getting dental implants, as smoking can affect the healing process and the long-term health of gums and the bone surrounding the implant.
You may not be a good candidate for dental implants if you have certain medical conditions, such as uncontrolled diabetes, blood clotting disorders, cancer, immune system problems and drug abuse. People under the age of 18 should wait to have implants until bone tissue is fully developed and the jaw is fully grown.
The best way to find out if you’re a good candidate is to schedule a consultation.
How long does the procedure take?
Considering how drastically full-arch dental implants can change your life, it’s somewhat surprising how little time the procedure takes. For most patients, it’s only a few months from the initial consultation to final placement of their new, natural-looking teeth.
A lot of that time allows for healing between procedures, which are done on an outpatient basis. Below is a summary of the process:
- Everything starts with a consultation, including a comprehensive dental exam and medical history review. If you and your doctor decide full-arch dental implants are the right solution, your doctor designs a treatment plan and schedules your surgery.
- During the first procedure, your doctor removes damaged teeth and places the implant posts (with bone grafting, if needed). Your doctor then places temporary, or provisional, teeth on top of the implant posts, checking your bite for alignment.
- Within a week or two, you return for a follow-up appointment to see how you’re adjusting to the implants.
- The next three months are a time for healing, so the implants can fuse to the jawbone.
- On your return visit, your doctor removes your provisionals and places your permanent bridge.
- You return for check-ups as determined by your doctor.
Do dental implants hurt?
Everyone tolerates pain differently, but dental implant procedures are generally described as more uncomfortable than painful. During the surgery itself, you’ll be sedated, so you won’t feel anything.
Afterward, you may experience some pain, swelling or bleeding, and that’s normal. Your doctor may prescribe medication to help alleviate the pain, or you can take over-the-counter medication. After two or three days, the discomfort should subside, and the stitches in your gums should dissolve.
Eating soft foods only, for about a week or 10 days, will aid in your recovery.
What do dental implants feel like?
Dental implants are designed to function, feel and look like natural teeth. Because implants replace teeth roots or nerves, you can’t feel the implants themselves. Rather, sensation comes from the gums surrounding the implant.
Within only a few weeks of getting dental implants, you’ll hardly notice the difference between your artificial teeth and your natural teeth. Because they’re anchored into the jawbone, dental implants are solid and secure, meaning you can eat your favorite foods — and smile — with confidence.
How are dental implants maintained?
Full-arch dental implants are easy to maintain — and, if properly cared for, can last for decades. Simply brush them regularly, just as you would natural teeth. Your doctor will schedule routine check-ups to ensure the implants remain healthy.
Full-arch dental implants have helped millions of people boost their self-esteem by providing a healthy smile that lasts. To learn more, schedule a consultation today with an Esteem Dental Implants doctor.