What Are Dental Implants?

women smiling after dental implant procedure
Dental implants are far and away from the best option for replacing a missing tooth or a tooth that is so severely damaged that it needs to be extracted. Dental implants get their name from the titanium implant that is the base of the prosthetic. The implant is screwed down into the socket of the former natural tooth root. The jawbone then is allowed to grow around and incorporate the implant into the jaw. A post is attached to the implant and an artificial tooth to the post. Dental implants function and feel just like natural teeth.

Am I A Candidate For Dental Implants?

The most important determining factor with dental implants is jawbone mass and density. As we mentioned above, missing teeth can lead to jawbone deterioration and loss of mass. If the patient has waited a length of time before having a missing tooth or teeth replaced, the jawbone may not have enough mass to adequately hold an implant. In these cases, the patient will need one or more jawbone graft procedures to make it ready for implants. Because we use the latest 3D imaging, Dr. Fong is often able to place dental implants in cases where other dentists would require expensive bone grafting. Dr. Fong also employs a new technology known as osseodensification to further preserve available bone.

Otherwise, as long as the patient doesn’t have another dental issue such as gum disease, most people of all ages are good candidates for dental implants.

Why Should I Replace Missing Teeth With Dental Implants?

Sometimes, people opt to not replace a missing tooth, especially if it isn’t a visible tooth. This is a bad idea because a missing tooth or teeth can create various problems.

  • Teeth need pressure on each side from adjacent teeth otherwise they tend to move. This is what happens with a missing tooth, as the adjacent teeth slide over to fill the gap. This creates problems with your alignment and bite.
  • Chewing and biting involves a great deal of energy down into the tooth. This energy is transferred through the tooth down into the jawbone, stimulating the jawbone to continually regenerate new bone mass. This is key to a healthy, strong jawbone. Without that energy coming down through the tooth, the jawbone in that area begins to deteriorate and resorb.
  • Missing teeth can be embarrassing visually, and can also create whistling sounds when pronouncing certain words. And missing molars can create problems with chewing, making the person avoid certain foods, which can cause nutritional deficiencies.

Of your tooth replacement options, either a bridge or an implant, dental implants are the superior choice. Dental implants last longer. Dental implants function just like a natural tooth. And dental implants don’t rely on crowns placed on the adjacent teeth.

Dental Implant Technology

All of our dental implants are planned using 3-D imaging, also known as CBCT, so that we can take advantage of the available bone present and avoid vital structures such as nerves. In many cases this allows us to avoid the expense of bone grafting.

By using the new technology of osseodensification, we are able to preserve your bone rather than removing it to place an implant. This promotes faster healing, resulting in a shorter time frame to complete your implant treatment. In many instances, the entire process can be completed in as little as 2 months. Our office goes one step further by using PRP/PRF with our implant surgeries.

What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)?

PRP or Platelet Rich Plasma has concentrated platelets. These platelets contain substances called growth factors. One of the most important things growth factors do is greatly accelerate the healing process. Here at Dr. Fong’s office, we routinely use PRP or more currently, PRF (Platelet Rich Fibrin) in our surgeries to enhance the body’s own natural healing ability.

How is a Dental Implant Procedure Performed?

Having an implant placed is not a one-visit process. This is because the implant must be allowed to become a part of the jawbone, and this takes time. Here is the process of how Dr. Fong places dental implants.

Consultation: The dental implant process begins with a consultation with Dr. Fong, who performs a full oral exam and takes x-rays and a 3D CBCT scan to determine your jawbone mass and to identify vital structures such as nerves.

Placement: Next the titanium implant is placed into hole formerly occupied by the tooth root. Dr. Fong may have to drill a small hole into the jawbone to prepare it. The dental implants are shaped like a screw and are inserted in that fashion. He also adds platelet-rich plasma when placing the dental implants, as the concentrated platelets and growth factors accelerate the healing process.

Osseointegration: Now the patient simply waits to heal. If the dental implants are already through the gum tissue, Dr. Fong will obtain an Osstell ISQ value to determine the implant stability. This will let him know if the dental implants are ready to have an abutment and crown placed over them. No more guessing!

Abutment: When the jawbone has fully grown around the dental implants, a small metal post, called an abutment, is attached to the implants and the gum tissue is allowed to heal for around six weeks.

Placing the crown: The final step is to place a custom-made porcelain crown onto the abutment. The crown is made to match the color and shape of the surrounding teeth so, once placed, it fits in naturally.

Is It Painful To Get Dental Implants?

The process of getting dental implants is just that, a process. There will be periods of recovery where Dr. Fong has to make a small incision in your gums to access the jawbone, both when first placing the implant and when later attaching the post. These will involve eating a soft diet for a few days as your gums heal. But the pain is not anything that can’t be handled with over-the-counter pain medication. Beyond those instances, the implant process is not a painful one

How Long Until I Can Use My Teeth With Dental Implants?

The artificial tooth is not attached to the post until your jawbone has fully integrated the titanium implant. At that point, the dental implants are part of the jaw, and attaching the artificial tooth means it is basically as strong as a natural tooth. So, once we place the artificial tooth you can use your new tooth immediately.

What Our Patients Have to Say

"Dr Randy has been my Dentist for 27 years. He has alway been courteous and considerate with his patients care. I’ve had numerous crown work, an implant, and now Bridge work over the years. Dr Randy will always be my Dentist!"

How Long Do Dental Implants Last?

Dental implants are the longest-lasting dental prosthetic. Dental implants can fail if the jawbone mass isn’t sufficient to support them, but because Dr. Fong is so diligent with 3D imaging prior to placement of the implant, his success rate approaches 100 percent. In many cases, a dental implant will last the remainder of the patient’s life.

How Do I Care For Dental Implants?

Just as dental implants function and feel exactly like natural teeth, the hygiene you provide is also identical — twice-daily brushing and flossing are all that is required.

Schedule a Consultation Today

Dr. Randy Fong proudly serves Santa Ana, Irvine, Anaheim, Garden Grove and the surrounding areas. To schedule an appointment for Dental Implants in Santa Ana, call us at 714-549-1903 today or fill out our contact form for more information.
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In addition to providing Bioclear and cosmetic dentistry to patients in Santa Ana, Irvine, Huntington Beach, and the surrounding areas, Dr. Fong offers general dentist procedures for patients looking to maintain their great smile and dental health. Call today to schedule your regular examination and cleaning.

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