Don’t Let Dental Anxiety Prevent You From Getting Implants

Dental anxiety troubles many patients — both children and adults — and often, the more serious the procedure, the higher the anxiety. That’s why we often encounter a lot of patient anxiety around the prospect of getting dental implants. However, having more information about the procedure helps assuage patient fears and concerns. 

One important thing for patients to know is that dental implant surgery is the most advanced treatment for replacing missing or lost teeth, and it also has the best track record of any tooth replacement procedure. Implants have a very high success rate when compared to less current methods of tooth replacement, such as dentures or bridgework. This is due to their stability and endurance, thanks to being rooted in the patient’s own jawbone. Monterey Peninsula Dental Group dentists perform many such implants each year and will be happy to talk with you about possible treatment.

Dental Implant Anxiety

Now, let’s address some of the common worries affecting dental implant patients. Appearance can be a big concern, as the process of getting permanent dental implants takes a few months. However, your MPDG dentist can place temporary replacement teeth, or a temporary denture if you’re missing several teeth, to fill in the gaps. Today’s temporary tooth replacements are very aesthetically advanced and look just like your natural teeth, and can even allow you to eat and chew with them. 

Pain is another frequent source of anxiety for patients. Know that we always make sure patients are comfortable and pain-free during every procedure, and any post-operative discomfort or pain can be handled with medication after surgery. Our implant dentists are well-trained in both implantation and pain management, and will ensure your dental implant experience is not a negative one. If the fear of pain is what’s stopping you, we also offer sedation dentistry for patients whose anxiety makes it difficult to relax and follow directions in the dentist’s chair. 

Sometimes we discover that would-be implant patients are embarrassed about the condition of their teeth, which has led to the need for implants. But your MPDG dentist won’t judge you — we’re here to help get you on a better dental path and improve your oral health, while taking care of your teeth well. The best way to address embarrassing dental issues is to come in and consult with your dentist on a plan to get them fixed. With dental implants, you’ll be able to replace missing or broken teeth with beautiful new ones, and overcome that problem. 

How Successful Are Implants?

That’s a frequent question from patients, and understandably so. Getting dental implants can be a long and costly process; anyone would want to be able to expect a good outcome. We can confidently answer, however, that implants are almost always very successful, with one of the highest success rates of any dental procedure, at over 95%. Patients who don’t see good success with implants usually are those who have significant other complicating health conditions affecting their body’s healing and implant acceptance. Your dentist will talk with you about whether any of your medical history might preclude you from having dental implants, but those cases are very rare. 

Regarding the cost of implants, it’s true that they can be expensive, especially if you need several. We understand that oral surgery can be difficult to handle financially, especially without dental insurance. We make every effort to work with our patients’ dental insurance plans when they exist, and when they don’t, MPDG offers an option called Compassionate Finance. It’s based on your budget and the service will work with you to find an installment payment plan that fits for you.

Communicate with Your Dentist

If you have other concerns or worries about a procedure, whether it’s dental implants or another treatment, please don’t hesitate to talk with your dentist. If he or she knows about your anxieties, they can be addressed beforehand. You may also be a patient with generalized anxiety or specific fears related to the dentist; we want to know that too, so we can best help you get the good dental care you need, and provide solutions while caring for you. Sedation dentistry often benefits these patients too, along with other accommodations that may be helpful. 

 

This post appeared originally on the LifeSmiles Blog of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Click here to read the full original post by Dr. Ryan Lehr.


What to Expect After Dental Implants

Getting dental implants to replace missing or damaged teeth can be a long process from start to finish. A common question from patients who may benefit from the procedure is what the recovery time and post-operative care will be like. We’ll answer that in this blog, along with explaining the procedures that make up dental implant surgery.

The process of placing dental implants has several steps, with their own recovery times and precautions to take along the way. Each patient’s surgery can be different, depending on the health of your teeth and jawbone, and on how many implants are needed. Your MPDG dentist will talk with you about the specifics of your care and explain what the best approach is for you as a patient. In some cases, some of these steps may be able to be combined, shortening the total surgery and recovery time.

Getting Ready for Implants

For some patients, dental implant surgery begins with removing the damaged tooth. This is a common dental procedure, but can take a few weeks to recover from before moving forward. It’s crucial to follow your dentist’s post-extraction instructions carefully to prevent complications like dry socket or infection.

For others, it might begin with bone grafting or bone regeneration procedures to strengthen the jawbone. A strong, stable bone in the area of the implant is necessary to support the force of biting and chewing with the eventual replacement tooth. These procedures rely on bone healing, so can take six to eight weeks for full recovery.

Dental Implant Surgery

Once you’re ready for dental implant placement, the longest part of the process begins. Your oral surgeon will make a small cut in your gums to reach the jawbone, then drill a hole and place a titanium implant in it, to stand in for the missing tooth roots. This is done under anesthesia or sedation, so you shouldn’t drive afterward, and should plan to rest for the remainder of the day after your surgery.

The recovery time from this part of the procedure can take several months. As the process of bone healing goes on, the implant will fuse with the healing bone around it and essentially become part of your jaw. Titanium is used as the material for dental implants specifically because of its ability to permanently bond with bone tissue. This means much less noise and slippage compared to dentures, and also improves on the stability and lifetime of the restoration work compared to fixed bridges.

If your missing tooth is in the front of your mouth, you may have a temporary replacement tooth placed during this healing process, for appearances. This is a kind of partial temporary denture, and can be removed for cleaning and at night.

Final Steps

After the dental implant has healed, there’s often one more surgical step — placing a small attachment, called an abutment or collar, on the top of the implant. This provides a base for the crown or replacement tooth to attach when it’s ready. The abutment usually requires local anesthesia.

For some patients, the abutment might be attached during the original implant procedure, but that means the abutment will be visible above the gumline throughout the long healing time. Many patients don’t like how that looks, so it’s placed later on instead. Either way, the abutment attaches to the metal post of the implant, and the gum tissue is closed around it. This requires about two weeks of healing for your gums before the final replacement tooth or teeth can be placed.

After that, impressions will be taken for the creation of your new artificial tooth. These new teeth may be either removable or fixed; your dentist will consult with you about what’s best for your case.

Finally, your new crowns or replacement teeth will be attached to the abutments and you’ll be ready to face the world with a new smile. It may take some time to adjust to the replacement tooth, so follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions closely to ensure everything goes well.

Expected Side Effects

As with any dental surgery, you may have some discomfort during healing from one or all stages of the implant process. Side effects that are normal and expected include swelling around the gums and in your face, slight bruising, pain at the implant site, and minor bleeding. It’s usually recommended to avoid hard foods during healing, and your oral surgeon may prescribe pain medication or antibiotics after surgery to help you heal.

If at any time during the healing periods you find that these issues get worse or are causing too much pain, get in touch with your surgeon right away to make sure the problems don’t persist.

Caring for Your Implants

There are things you can do to increase the success rate of dental implants. The failure rate is very low, but there is a significant correlation between smoking and tobacco use and dental implant failure. If you smoke, quit before having this procedure for the best chance at success. If the implant does fail, it has to be removed, and the surgery can be tried again after a few months.

You also can take steps to care well for your teeth and implants after surgery. Keep your teeth, gums and dental work clean by regularly brushing and flossing. There are interdental brushes that can help you clean around and between dental implants and your teeth for a deeper cleaning.

You also should check in with your dentist regularly to maintain the health of your teeth and implants. And, of course, avoid activities that can crack or damage your teeth or implants, like opening bottles with your teeth, chewing on hard candy or ice, or grinding your teeth at night. If the last is a problem for you, talk with your MPDG dentist for possible treatments, like a night guard.

The best guideline to follow post-implants is to communicate any problems right away to your dentist, and don’t hesitate to call if you have any concerns or questions about recovery and post-op care.


Dental Implants: What Are The Alternatives?

When facing a missing tooth, there are several alternatives for replacement, but the most advanced and often-recommended solution is a dental implant. As with every dental issue, the details of what that might mean for you is highly individual, with each patient being different.

At Monterey Peninsula Dental Group, we have several experienced implant dentists who can work with you on a treatment plan that is customized to your needs, dental history and the implant options that best suit your situation. Our cutting-edge imaging tools and our in-house ability to craft dental restorations will help shorten the timeline of your implant treatment and ensure that your replacement teeth fit your mouth and jaw flawlessly.

Dental implants function as the replacement root structure for a missing tooth, anchoring it in place in your jawbone. It often takes some time for an implant to bond with the bone and heal up to the point where a replacement tooth can be placed. But when it’s all done, you’ll have a strong tooth replacement that looks, feels and functions just like a natural tooth.

Types of Implants

The type of dental implant your dentist will recommend is based on your particular needs for tooth replacement. Because implants are anchored in and bond with your natural jawbone, its condition is an important consideration during the implant process.

The most common type of implant is an endosteal implant, which resembles a tiny screw and is usually titanium. These are placed directly in the jawbone and can support any type of dental restoration. Often, these are done with a single tooth, but it’s also possible to place several at once if you’re missing a few in a row, for example.

Another, less common type of implant is called subperiosteal dental implants. These are secured in the soft tissue of your gum and sit on or above the jawbone. They’re used in cases where the patient does not have enough healthy bone tissue to support an implant, but can’t undergo bone regeneration or augmentation to create new bone.

There are also other types of dental implants available, mostly suited to special circumstances. Typically, getting dental implants is a multi-step process spanning several months. But there is a type of implant called immediate load dental implants, which place both the implant and a replacement tooth at the same time. That’s best suited for patients with plenty of healthy jawbone and an implant secure enough to support pressure on the new replacement tooth right away.

Miniature dental implants are sometimes used in the creation of dental restorations like bridges and dentures. These are toothpick-sized implants, also called narrow diameter implants, and they are less invasive, but typically used just to stabilize other dental work.

Dental Implants Vs. Dentures and Bridges

Dental implants are permanent fixes, and should not need to be replaced in a patient’s lifetime, unlike many other types of dental restorations, like dentures or bridges. While the replacement tooth may wear out or become damaged at some point, the metal implant itself won’t be going anywhere, and will always provide a stable base to strengthen your jawbone for any future restoration, if needed.

In the case of fixed bridges, which attach a false tooth to its neighbors for support, we expect a lifetime of 5 to 15 years, the average being around 10 years. For dentures, a lifespan of 7 to 15 years is expected, and most patients, in addition, find dentures less stable and comfortable than dental implants.

Talk to your MPDG dentist about the dental restoration options that might be right for you. We’re always happy to hear from new or current patients about their concerns. You can contact us online anytime, or give us a call during office hours at (831) 373-3068.