' A Guide to Los Angeles Dental Implant Surgery

It may come as a surprise to know that an estimated 100 million Americans have one or more teeth missing, mostly due to decay, faulty dental work and gum disease. Tooth loss can leave you feeling self-conscious, affecting your confidence and even your willingness to smile. Finding a Los Angeles implant dentist can put an end to this way of life once and for all. Dental implants in Los Angeles offer solutions for replacing a single tooth or several teeth depending on your situation.

The loss or damage to one or more permanent teeth can cause real problems down the road when left untreated. Dental implant surgery offers a healthy, long-term tooth replacement option that provides a range of benefits compared to other available replacement options.

How Do Dental Implants in Los Angeles Work?

A healthy tooth consists of a root portion that’s made of bone, among other structures and vessels. The visible part of a tooth grows out of the root system. Dental implants are designed to replace the tooth root, providing a solid foundation for replacement teeth.

A dental implant uses a titanium metal post that replaces the root. The replacement tooth is then mounted on top of an extension piece that’s attached to the metal post. In essence, the procedure places the implant inside your jawbone, which makes for a long-term solution for tooth replacement.

Dental Implants vs Dentures vs Bridges: What’s the Difference?

Dental implants, dentures and bridges offer three different ways to replace missing teeth. While all three options accomplish the same overall goal, each one has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Dental implants in Los Angeles are sturdy and can last for 10 years or longer. The main drawback is the length of time the entire procedure takes, which can run as long as nine months.

Dentures provide a removable option that replaces all of your teeth or areas of missing teeth. In many cases, the feel of dentures can take awhile to get used to when eating and talking.

Bridges attach to your existing teeth to “bridge” existing gaps. While effective, bridges can strain or disfigure the structure of nearby teeth.

What’s Involved With Dental Implant Surgery?

Preparation

A Los Angeles implant dentist conducts a thorough evaluation to determine how best to proceed, basing the surgical process on the condition of your jawbone and the type of implant used. Typically, dental X-rays and a model or mold of your mouth and teeth will be taken.

Dental implant surgery involves a series of procedures and in some cases requires a team of dental specialists to attend to different areas that make up the mouth and teeth. For instance, oral and maxillofacial surgeons oversee matters regarding the jaw, mouth and face while anesthesiologists administer anesthesia during the procedure.

The Procedure

The procedure for dental implants in Los Angeles takes place in an outpatient setting and entails five stages:

  • Removing the damaged tooth
  • Preparing the jawbone for surgery
  • Placing the implant post in your jawbone
  • Placing the extension, also known as the abutment, on the implant post
  • Placing the dental implant

The actual specifics of the procedure will vary depending on your overall oral health and the health of your jawbone. In cases where several teeth are missing on one side of the mouth, the different stages of the procedure will take longer due to the healing time required for each stage.

Are There Different Types of Dental Implants?

Throughout the course of the procedure, your Los Angeles implant dentist will make impressions of your mouth to gauge how the process is affecting your jawbone structure. This helps ensure the dental implant will be correctly sized and fitted.

Once the extension or abutment has been placed and your gums have healed, the tooth portion of the implant can be attached. There are two tooth replacement options: a fixed implant prosthesis and a removable implant prosthesis.

A fixed implant prosthesis, also called a crown, is cemented or screwed onto the abutment. As the name implies a fixed prosthesis stays in, so there’s no need to remove it for cleaning or when going to sleep. For multiple implants, each implant will have its own crown.

A removable implant prosthesis works in much the same way as removable dentures only more secure. A removable prosthesis consists of two or more artificial teeth attached to a plastic gum mold and a metal frame undercarriage. The prosthesis snaps into place, so it can be removed for cleaning or while sleeping.

How Long Does the Dental Implant Process Take?

The dental implant process takes considerably longer than other replacement options but produces much more stable and long-term results. Overall, the process can take anywhere from three to nine months depending on the condition of your mouth and jaw. Much of this time is used to allow your gums and jawbone to heal.

After placing the implant, time is needed for the jawbone to grow around it. This process, known as osseointegration, allows the jawbone to unite with the implant surface, much like the root of a natural tooth does.

Are There Any Risks or Additional Procedures I Should Know About?

Dental implant procedures come with certain risks just like any other type of surgery-based procedure. Additional steps may also be needed to ensure optimum results depending on your particular needs.

Risks

Dental implant is invasive in that the procedure inserts a new fixture into the gums and jawbone. In turn, any potential risks will likely affect these areas. Risks to be aware of include:

  • Damage to nerves along the lips, teeth, gums or lips
  • Infection at the site of the implant
  • Sinus problems
  • Damage to the surrounding teeth

Special Procedures

A dental implant must be placed in a solid base. In instances where the jawbone is soft or thin, a bone grafting procedure may be needed to ensure your jawbone can support the implant.

Bone grafting involves removing bone from another part of the body, such as the hip or a different area of the jawbone. In some cases, bone grafting can be done during the early stages, when the implant is placed.

Dental Implant Surgery – Is It Right for Me?

While dental implant surgery may not be right for everyone, it offers a range of benefits that other replacement options don’t have. If you’re looking for a long-term replacement solution, contact a Los Angeles implant dentist to see if it’s right for you.

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