When a tooth is missing, whether from extraction, trauma, or hypodontia (the tooth never formed), there are numerous reasons to restore function and aesthetics by replacing it.

There are also several options.

Dental implants are, however, the closest thing to a natural tooth and, in most instances, they are the best option.

At Bright Smile Dental, we can help you with a missing tooth. Dr. de la Paz will perform an examination and discuss which option is best for you.

Why should you replace a missing tooth?

Aside from any embarrassment that a missing tooth may cause, there are several great reasons to replace it.

When a tooth is missing, several negative effects can take place:

  • When a missing tooth is not replaced, it allows the surrounding teeth to move. This can cause crooked and crowded teeth. Not only does this affect your overall appearance, but it also makes it harder to keep your teeth properly cleaned, putting you at a higher risk of infection, disease, and decay. In addition, it changes your bite and puts more stress on your jaw joints and remaining teeth.  
  • A missing tooth can affect the way you chew and eat. This can affect your nutrition and diet.
  • Your speech can be affected, making it harder for people to understand you.
  • When you lose a tooth, the root is also gone. While a bridge or dentures can replace the crown of a tooth or teeth, the root is also important. Without a tooth root, bone loss occurs. This weakens the entire structure of your jaw and can loosen other teeth, leading to more tooth loss.

What makes a dental implant the best choice?

While nothing compares to a natural tooth, a dental implant is as close to a real tooth as you can get. It not only replaces the crown, but it replaces the root as well. When done right, it also looks completely natural.

The new tooth root is actually a titanium screw placed in your jawbone. Not only is titanium compatible with the human body, but it also allows for new bone growth that fuses the implant in place. There are also no concerns about future bone loss, as the implant mimics the natural tooth root.

A dental implant is secure and permanent. There are no worries of it loosening or coming out when you eat, speak, perform oral hygiene, kiss, laugh, smile, or talk.    

Unlike a traditional bridge, a dental implant does not require assistance from adjacent teeth. It does not place undue stress or pressure on adjacent teeth that can impair their strength and integrity. However, an implant can be used to support a bridge, making it more stable and secure.

What is the process for a dental implant?

Placing a dental implant is a surgical procedure. However, the surgery is mild enough that most patients require nothing more than local anesthetics.

Your bone structure and anatomy, along with which tooth is missing, determine the surgical course and type of implant.  

Placing the Implant

After diagnostic testing and decisions regarding the best implant for you, the implant will be surgically placed into your jawbone. Again, this usually requires nothing more than local anesthetics.

The actual surgery should not take more than 15 or 20 minutes, although your appointment may be longer to allow time for preparation.

After Placement of the Implant

You will most likely notice mild pain (tenderness), swelling, and discomfort. Most often, over-the-counter medications and ice are enough to keep these symptoms tolerable.

It is best to refrain from foods and drinks while your mouth is numb. Once the numbness wears off, we recommend a soft diet for several days.

Mild bleeding can be expected. Light pressure and ice can help. For excessive bleeding, notify your surgeon.

Unless otherwise notified, you can expect any stitches to dissolve in a few days.

Good oral hygiene is imperative after a dental implant. To reduce the chance of infection or complications, you will want to brush and floss regularly. You may also be given a special mouth rinse to use. For the first few days, you should use a soft toothbrush. Your doctor will discuss options with you.

The Healing Process

After placement, bone growth occurs around the implant. This process, called osseointegration, helps hold the implant securely in place. Since we want optimum bone growth, permanent tooth replacement may not occur for several months after surgery.

The length of healing depends on the location of the replacement tooth and the type of implant used.

With some patients, however, an implant and temporary tooth replacement can all be done in one visit. This depends on several factors and can be discussed with Dr. de la Paz at during your visit.

Placing the Crown or Bridge

After the healing process is complete, an abutment, or connector, is placed. This is the piece that connects the new crown to the implanted root. Once in place, you can receive your crown. This is your custom-made new tooth.

At Bright Smile Dental, we ensure your new crown blends naturally by matching the shape, size, and color of your other teeth.

Another option is a bridge connected to the implant.

Are you a candidate for an implant?

Dr. de la Paz will discuss all your options with you. For the most part, you are an excellent candidate for a dental implant if:

Your jawbone can support an implant

A dental implant requires dense, healthy bone. If you do not have enough bone to support an implant, other options, such as a bone graft, can help.

You enjoy good general health

Some illnesses can slow healing, which can prevent successful placement. If you have chronic health issues, discuss this with Dr. le la Paz to see if you are a candidate for an implant.

You Avoid Tobacco

Chewing tobacco and smoking are linked to implant failure. If you use tobacco and are interested in a dental implant, discuss your options with Dr. de la Paz.

For more information about a tooth implant or to schedule a consultation , Call us today at (253) 475-0262 Or Schedule An Appointment Online.