If you’re looking to replace a lost or missing tooth you may be weighing different options. Today one of the options you can consider is dental implants. The American Dental Association calls these implants “one of the biggest advances in dentistry in the past 40 years.” We wanted to find out why, so we asked Ted Filandrianos D.M.D., F.A.G.D. of Ted Filandrianos and Associates in Newton Centre to give us the lowdown on this dental technology, who it’s for and how it works.
Q: What are dental implants?
Dr. Ted: Dental implants are designed to replace lost teeth by anchoring the replacement tooth to the bone using a titanium screw. To perform the procedure, the dentist first inserts the screw into the jaw. Because it’s made out of titanium, which works well with your body, the bone in your jaw will actually grow around it-a process known as osseointegration, which keeps it solidly in place. We then attach the replacement tooth to the screw.
Q: Who is a candidate for implants?
Dr. Ted: Almost anyone who is missing a tooth can be a candidate for an implant. Patients who opt for implants might be a 19 or 20 year old who is missing a tooth or lost one in an accident or a person in their 50’s or 60’s who lost a tooth or teeth due to dental problems, such as gum disease.
Provided a person is healthy there is a good chance an implant will work for them.
Q: Having a screw inserted into your jaw sounds painful. Will it hurt?
Dr. Ted: The thing that most people are worried about when it comes to getting an implant is the pain. But truthfully, the procedure can really be performed painlessly. We often use pre-medication and sometimes do the procedure under anesthesia or using nitrous oxide.
Provided the procedure is done well, many people experience a quick recovery. We had one patient the other day who had eight implants and said he felt completely normal a week later.
Q: What are the advantages of implants versus dentures?
Dr. Ted: One of the biggest advantages of implants versus dentures is that they feel more like real teeth. Studies have shown that people who have implants have a much easier time eating than those with dentures. The other advantage to implants is that because they are secured to the bone, it actually helps to keep the bone healthy. Denture-wearers will experience bone erosion over time, which can age the face. Implants preserve bone and can help better maintain your facial features.
Q: Can I have a tooth replaced right away using an implant?
Dr. Ted: Sometimes. In some cases the bone in the jaw needs time to heal and to grow around the anchor screw, but in other cases we can replace the tooth the same day. It really depends on the specifics of the case and how many teeth are being replaced.
Q: Do I need special care for my implants?
Dr. Ted: The great thing about dental implants is that they can look and function much like real teeth. They need the same type of maintenance as your original set. This means flossing and brushing and getting regular cleanings and checkups.
Q: What questions should I ask a professional before getting implants?
Dr. Ted: One of the best ways to make sure that a dentist is the best choice to perform the procedure is to ask how many implants they’ve done. I’ve done more than 2,000 of these procedures. Some dentists, however, take advantage of short courses that teach them how to perform the implant procedure, but might not have a lot of experience. Part of this procedure is science, but some of it is an art. You want a professional who can ensure that not only are the teeth replaced properly, but they are positioned in a way that will make your face look its best.
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