Dental Implants in Santa Rosa & Petaluma
Dental implants are a restorative dentistry procedure used to replace missing teeth and prevent further damage to the jaw bone. Dental implants replace tooth roots and their appearance and feel are made to match that of your natural teeth. The importance of replacing missing teeth goes beyond the poor esthetic presence that you look older than you actually are. The effects of missing teeth can be detrimental to your long term oral and medical health.
Dr. Sutton is highly trained and has years of experience assisting patients with the effects of missing teeth, and can have you on your way to a healthy bright smile in just a few quick visits.
Why Replace Missing Teeth with Dental Implants?
If missing teeth are not replaced it can effect the way the jaw closes and cause the remaining teeth to shift into these gaps. Additionally, food can become trapped in these spaces, increasing the risk of decay and gum disease. The shifting teeth can also cause problems for the opposite teeth triggering the opposing jaw-line to have bite relationship problems. This can lead to TMJ problems (painful problems with the jaw joint).
Once a tooth is lost, the remaining jaw begins atrophy and can lead to bone loss. If this continues to go on without medical attention, more teeth can be lost and it becomes more difficult to eat and chew food, affecting the overall quality of life. The longer a person waits to find a remedy to this problem, any chance they have of getting a successful dental restoration is greatly diminished.
A tooth should be replaced immediately after it is lost to prevent additional oral health issues and limitations of the mouth. If you have lost teeth you can get help. Contact Dr. Sutton of Sonoma Smiles for a free consultation so that he can discuss the remedies to get you a healthy, confident smile. Please fill out our convenient online form for more information.
Reasons for Tooth Loss
Teeth can be lost for a number of reasons, leading to confidence issues or making one self-conscious. Additional problems associated with tooth loss can have a negative effect on eating habits and other problems like malnutrition. Dental implants can remedy all the following situations:
- Excessive wear and tear
- Periodontitis (gum disease)
- Congenital defects
- Failed root canal
- Tooth decay
How do Dental Implants Work?
Implants are the process of replacing tooth roots. The restoration includes many advantages including improved appearance, speech, and comfort because they are made to look and feel like your own teeth. The implant is placed permanently into the jaw bone and is left to heal. This process – called osseointegration -allows for the structural and functional connection between the dental implant and the living bone. After the healing process of osseointegration occurs, the crown can be placed and you will be left with a tooth that looks and feels natural.
Unlike bridges, implants do not require neighboring teeth to be reduced because they do not need to be supported by other teeth. Your other natural teeth will be un-touched leading to a healthier smile. This is the most conservative way to replace a missing tooth.
Mini Dental Implants
Sonoma Smiles offers two different dental implants options: traditional implants (as described above) and mini dental implants. Mini dental implants are recommended for patients who have dentures but are troubled by their loose fit. Mini implants involve a short, hour-long procedure that locks a loose denture securely in place. The small size of the implants (about the diameter of a toothpick) makes them ideal for people who can’t undergo the surgery associated with traditional implants.
Our California Dental Implants will work and look like your natural teeth. Dr. Sutton will use his expert touch to make your implant look exactly like your natural teeth and improve the quality of your oral health.
One of the most popular ways to replace a missing or severely compromised tooth is with a dental implant. They are crafted from medical grade titanium materials that have been successfully used in orthopedic medicine for years. Dental implants are strong and reliable, replacing a natural tooth in both form and function. They are a favorable alternative to dental bridges, which require the modification and support of the adjacent teeth, and to dentures, which (when ill-fitting) can slip and slide around in the mouth.
Dr. Wayne Sutton of Sonoma Smiles has been placing and restoring dental implants in Rohnert Park for many years. For the right candidate, dental implants allow for a lifetime of stress-free chewing, smiling and speaking. They can also eliminate the need for the continual replacement of other non-permanent restorations (such as dentures or bridges) as they fail.
What Dental Implants Accomplish
Dental implants replace the root of a failing or missing tooth and the part of the tooth that is seen in the mouth. Made from titanium, implant posts are placed directly in the jawbone and topped with an artificial tooth (i.e., a crown). Millions of people enjoy a full smile, complete chewing and speaking function and optimal oral health, thanks to dental implants.
Dental implants are virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth in terms of appearance and function. They fill in the gap left by a missing tooth to complete the smile, and they are custom-made to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding natural teeth.
Individuals that have dental implants placed usually experience a tremendous boost in confidence. Many are able to re-engage in normal lifestyle activities without feeling ashamed or embarrassed of their appearance.
Dental implants are sturdy and secure. They don’t shift around in the mouth or cause discomfort. They also do not rely on the adjacent teeth for support. Unlike a bridge, dental implants do not require the modification of the surrounding teeth at all. They are a standalone solution to restore normal chewing, biting and speaking function.
Dental implants can be used in conjunction with dentures to replace most or all of the teeth. Several implant posts can be placed in the jawbone to support a partial or complete denture apparatus or a bridge (like the Teeth Tomorrow system). This is a good option for individuals that find dentures uncomfortable but need a full or almost-full mouth solution.
The jawbone supporting the teeth needs regular stimulation (in the form of chewing) to stay strong and healthy; a failing or missing tooth doesn’t provide the stimulation the underlying bone requires to thrive. Without the pressure from chewing, the bone can start to deteriorate and surrounding teeth can fall out. In the worst cases, the facial structures can collapse from jawbone resorption. Because dental implants are placed in the jawbone, they keep the bone stimulated and healthy. This prevents a host of problems and helps to maintain healthy bone and a normal facial appearance.
Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?
Suitable dental implant candidates are typically individuals that:
- are missing one or more teeth
- have one or more teeth that are significantly damaged or decayed
- have sufficient jawbone to support the implant post
- are in good general health
- do not smoke (however this is not a contraindication)
- can commit to maintaining oral health through at-home hygiene and regular dental appointments
To discuss dental implant candidacy with Dr. Sutton, please call or email our office today.
The Placement Process
Dental implants are placed during a two-part process. The entire treatment plan is developed and discussed ahead of time between dentist and patient.
If the implant is replacing a failing or seriously compromised tooth, the damaged tooth is extracted and the space is often grafted with bone.
The titanium implant post is surgically placed in the jawbone once the healing is complete. Implant materials are biocompatible and eventually become part of the bone. After the post has been placed, the jawbone heals for several months during a process called osseointegration. The jawbone grows into the surface of the implant to create a solid base for the soon-to-be-placed artificial tooth.
Once the bone has sufficiently healed, the implant post is uncovered during a second surgical procedure. A small connector piece called an abutment is screwed onto the top of the post. Finally, an artificial tooth is affixed to the abutment, topping the post. The artificial tooth is custom-fabricated to match the surrounding natural teeth in shape, size and color. Once placed, the implant will be virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the teeth. It should also feel very stable in the mouth.
Cases in which the jawbone is not strong or thick enough to support an implant post may require bone grafting prior to (or in conjunction with) implant placement. Bone can be taken from another area of the jaw and transplanted to the area needed. Sometimes, artificial bone may be used. Depending on the condition of the jawbone and how much bone is needed, bone grafting may be performed in advance of the implant placement process or at the same time.
Adjusting to Life with Implants
There is typically a short recovery period from the surgery to place the implant and artificial tooth. Minor side effects like mild swelling or bleeding are common but serious complications are rare.
During the initial healing, a soft foods diet is recommended. Crunchy and hard foods can slowly be incorporated. Dr. Sutton schedules regular follow-up visits to check the healing progress of the implant and ensure their proper function.
Implants should be cared for just like natural teeth. They must be brushed and flossed daily to remove food particles. A special interdental brush can help to reach the nooks and crannies around the teeth, gums and implant post.
Individuals with implants can chew most normal foods, but should not chew ice or hard candy. Chronic teeth grinders should seek treatment to prevent damaging the artificial tooth or implant post. Smoking has been linked to poor healing, so it should be completely avoided if at all possible.
Dental Implant FAQs
How long does the process take?
Your final result can manifest in as few as three months. If bone grafting or jaw surgery are required, however, the time period could extend to six months. The actual time spent in the dentist’s chair is not significantly different from that of other dental procedures. In many cases as few as three appointments are all that is necessary. What accounts for the extended waiting time is the healing process, as the bone fuses with and secures your new implants.
How durable are dental implants?
As technology has advanced, implants have become stronger and more long-lasting. In fact, your new implant will probably be stronger than the tooth it replaces. Studies have shown that 95 percent or more of patients can expect implants to last at least 30 years. In cases where all teeth have been replaced, that success figure ranges from 80 to 90 percent.
Is the process painful?
Patients report that there is actually less discomfort than would typically be experienced during a tooth extraction. Dr. Sutton uses local anesthetic for dental implant placement, and also offers intravenous sedation if requested. Most of the discomfort will occur at home, after the anesthesia wears off. Swelling and discomfort can be effectively managed by medications that will be prescribed for you.
Why are dental implants superior to dentures?
Dental implants look, function and feel like natural teeth. They don’t need special maintenance or removal for cleaning. You brush and floss implants, just as your dentist has always recommended for all of your permanent teeth. Because implants are anchored in your jaw bone, they are stable and will not slip or move around like some dentures. You won’t fear biting into tough foods, or wonder if your teeth might fall out during a conversation. The titanium posts of implants also keep the jawbone stimulated, just as the roots of natural teeth do; and this prevents the bone loss and changes to your facial profile that can occur with missing teeth or dentures.
What are All-on-Four dental implants?
All-on-Four is a descriptive term for a type of full-mouth implant restoration. As the name suggests, a customized arch of fabricated artificial teeth is held in place in the mouth by four dental implants. With these four implants placed strategically across your upper mouth, and four on the bottom, you can enjoy a full set of securely attached, functional teeth.
A variation of this is the Teeth Tomorrow treatment offered by Dr. Sutton. It uses five or six implants to support a zirconia implant bridge for the upper or lower mouth. For this system, as well as with All-on-Four, the first phase of the process is exactly the same as a regular dental implant procedure, involving surgical placement of secure titanium posts. Detailed three-dimensional measurements are used to create a customized arch to span the breadth of your mouth. As the arch is fabricated, you will wear a temporary arch that will be attached to your new implants.
How to Contact Us & Find Out More
For more information about replacing missing teeth with dental implants or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sutton, please contact our Rohnert Park office by calling (707) 585-2555 today.