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Dental Implants, Are They An Option For you?


Nothing can take the place of a healthy set of teeth, but when disease or an accident ends in tooth loss, it's good to know that there are options for restoring your smile. If you are self-conscious because you have missing teeth or you wear dentures, there is an alternative: dental implants.

Implants have been used for more than a quarter century. And more patients are choosing dental implants as a replacement option, according to the American Dental Association.

One survey shows that more than 1.5 million dental implants were placed in a recent year, and that number is expected to grow.

Many patients choose implants to replace a single tooth, several teeth, or to support a full set of dentures. Implants are cylinders that are surgically placed in the upper or lower jaw where they function as a sturdy anchor for replacement teeth. They are made of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the human body.

Single Tooth Implants

The single tooth implant replaces the missing tooth's roots. A single tooth implant is a freestanding unit and does not involve treatment to the adjacent teeth.

If the surrounding teeth are healthy, they can remain untouched, and their strength and integrity may be maintained. The implant can stabilize your bite and help prevent problems with the jaw.

Implant-Supported Bridges and Dentures

Dental implants may be used to support a bridge when several teeth are missing. The bridge replaces the lost natural teeth and some of the tooth roots. An implant-supported bridge does not require support from adjacent teeth.

If you are missing all of your teeth, an implant-supported denture can replace the missing teeth and some of the tooth roots. Because the dental implants integrate with the jawbone, an implant-supported denture tends to be comfortable and stable, allowing you to bite and chew naturally.

What's involved?

The placement of an implant generally is a three-part process that takes several months.

In the first step, the dentist surgically places the implant into the jaw, with the top of the implant slightly above the top of the bone. A screw is inserted into the implant to prevent gum tissue and other debris from entering.

The gum is then secured over the implant, where it will remain covered for approximately three to six months while the implant fuses with the bone, a process called osseointegration. There may be some swelling and/or tenderness after the surgery, so pain medication is usually prescribed to alleviate the discomfort. Your dentist may recommend a diet of soft foods, cold foods and warm soup during the healing process.

In the second step, the implant is uncovered and the dentist attaches a post, also called an abutment, to the implant. The gum tissue is allowed to heal around the post. Once healed, the implant and post serve as the foundation for the new tooth. With some implants, this step is not needed because the implant and post are all one unit.

In the third and final step, the dentist makes a custom artificial tooth, called a dental crown, based on a size, shape, color and fit that will blend with your other teeth. Once completed, the crown is attached to the implant post.

If you are missing one or more teeth, there are plenty of reasons to correct the problem:

Who is a candidate?

If you are in good general health, with healthy gums and a jawbone that can support an implant, this treatment may be an option for you. In fact, your health is more of a factor than your age. Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or leukemia, may interfere with healing after surgery. And if you use tobacco, you are at great risk for gum disease, which can weaken the bone and tissues needed to support the implant.

Meticulous oral hygiene is critical to the success of the implant. You'll need to spend a little more time caring for the implant and making sure the area surrounding it is particularly clean. If your overall health is good and your teeth and gums are in good shape, your dentist can determine if you are a suitable candidate for a dental implant.

Other Considerations

Most patients find that an implant is secure and stableā€”a good replacement for their own tooth. Implants, however, are not an option for everyone. Because implants require surgery, patients should be in good health overall and have healthy gums. And, patients either must have adequate bone to support the implant, or be good candidates for surgery to build up the area needing the implant.

The treatment time for dental implants is longer and the cost higher than that of alternative procedures. Regular dental visits are essential to the life and long-term success of your implant. Some patients are scheduled for professional cleanings two to four times per year. Your dentist will provide you with a dental recall program to ensure the health of your implant and your natural teeth.

Your dentist also will suggest a home-care routine to suit your needs, which will include brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. You may also be advised to use a special toothbrush, an interproximal brush, or a mouth rinse to help prevent cavities and periodontal disease.

"Three generations of my family have been happily seeing Dr. Gabus for the past 30 years or so. I've been a patient of Dr. Gabus my entire life, and I have never been afraid of the dentist! Dr. Gabus is an excellent dentist, a caring professional who also actively contributes to the community."
- CI, San Jose
J. Gabus Dental Care






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1300 University Drive Suite 5
Menlo Park CA 94025
(650) 325-7711
info@JGabusDentalCare.com

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Palo Alto, Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley.