A six year old with a missing tooth is adorable. A 44 year old? Not nearly as cute.
But if you are an adult who is missing a tooth, we have different ways to help you. If you have lost a tooth, call our office to schedule an appointment to see if you may be a candidate for a dental implant. It generally doesn’t matter why you lost your tooth – it could be from decay or an injury or periodontal disease – an implant can help you regain your smile.
A dental implant is not a replacement tooth; it’s a replacement tooth root. So, the primary requirement is that the bones in your gum are strong enough to accept and hold this replacement root. This replacement root is made of titanium steel, a very strong kind of steel. After the Dr. Sheehan implants the replacement root, it takes time for the bone to grow and heal around the titanium post before a replacement tooth can by placed on the post. This healing process may take as long as twelve weeks.
Once the implant is thoroughly healed, Dr. Sheehan will be able to place a permanent or a removable replacement tooth onto the post. You and Dr. Sheehan will decide together whether your new tooth is permanent (typically a crown) or removable (typically a bridge).
If you are missing a tooth, there are a variety of reasons you will want to fill that gap. For many people, it comes down to simple cosmetic reasons: no adult wants to have a gappy smile! But you have two options when it comes to replacing a missing tooth: dentures, a bridge, or a dental implant.
Dental implants definitely provide the most natural-looking solution to replacing a missing tooth and they also operate most like a natural tooth. Furthermore, removable replacement teeth can cause changes in your speech, be uncomfortable, and make it difficult or even impossible to eat some of your favorite foods. You won’t have those problems with a dental implant.
It is also easier to maintain your long-term dental health with a dental implant. Bridges often require filing down otherwise healthy teeth, in order to secure the bridge. Dental implants leave surrounding teeth whole and therefore stronger and less likely to decay, chip, or break down the road.
Dental implants are easier to maintain and clean than removable teeth. You clean them just as if they were your natural teeth: brushing and flossing. Removable dentures require special cleaning and adhesives to remain in place.
Finally, many dental implants last a lifetime. This is not true of removable teeth. So while the financial obligation at the outset may be more, in the long term, a dental implant may be a very good investment.
Dr. Sheehan will use local anesthesia while securing the implant post in your jawbone and generally also while securing the crown to the post. This means you should remain relatively comfortable during the entire process. While the implant site can be a bit sore for a day or two after the post is placed and possibly after the crown is placed, the vast majority of our patients find that over-the-counter pain medication, like Advil or Tylenol are enough to ease their discomfort.
One possible hurdle between you and a dental implant may be insurance: many policies do not cover dental implants. This varies greatly between plans and often depends on the reason the original tooth was lost. We are happy to help you navigate the intricacies of health insurance to determine whether or not your policy will cover a dental implant or to what extent your policy will cover a dental implant.
You should also know that, while most people are good candidates for dental implants, there are a few situations that might keep you from being able to get a dental implant. If you have considerable bone loss (for instance, due to periodontal disease), there might not be enough bone to secure a dental implant or the bone might not be dense enough. Dr. Sheehan will take x-rays and thoroughly examine your gums and jawbone to determine whether or not this is the case before they recommend dental implants for you.