Let’s face it: It’s hard to feel whole when you know you’re not. And if your smile is missing a prominent tooth, everyone else knows there’s a hole there, too.
When you’ve lost a tooth anywhere in your mouth, even in a not-so-obvious place, you can have numerous issues: difficulty eating, an inability to pronounce certain letters and words, and bone loss in your jaw where the tooth sat. Other teeth can even begin to “drift” toward the vacant area, creating alignment issues.
You have choices in how to replace a missing tooth, or multiple teeth, but Louis Conte, DDS, of Red Bank Dental Office in Red Bank, New Jersey, is ready and waiting with the most reliable way to make your mouth whole again: dental implants.
Preparing to implant
While many tooth-replacement options can give you the look of natural teeth, implants offer you an added feature of permanence. Why? They’re “implanted” into your jawbone, attaching firmly like the roots of your original tooth.
Investing a few visits with Dr. Conte over a matter of months can pay off with decades, maybe a lifetime, of never having to think about that tooth again.
At your initial consultation, Dr. Conte uses imaging such as X-rays to make sure you have enough healthy jawbone tissue to hold the implant firmly in place. If you’re lacking substantial bone mass, a graft could build up your jawbone.
You and the doctor discuss your medical history as well, making sure there’s no reason your bone tissue might have trouble healing after implant surgery. For example, if you have diabetes, which slows the healing process, you’re more at risk of having trouble with the implant establishing itself in your jawbone.
Preparing for implant surgery is also a great time to quit smoking. OK, it’s always a great time to quit smoking, but smokers have up to a 20% greater chance of implant failure, because smoking cuts into blood flow to your gums.
If you can’t quit the habit entirely, at least pause starting a week before your procedure, and don’t start again for two months afterward. Maybe this time-out will be the beginning of the end of your smoking for good.
Placing the implant
When it’s time for the procedure, you receive anesthesia to keep you comfortable throughout. If you’re in discomfort afterward, when the anesthesia wears off, over-the-counter pain medications can help.
Dr. Conte makes an incision in the gum where the artificial tooth will go. With the jawbone exposed, he drills a hole to accommodate the metal post (abutment) to come later. If “incision” and “drills” make you feel uneasy at first, remember, you’re resting comfortably the entire time.
With the implant in place, Dr. Conte sets your gum tissue back in place over the bone, and our team takes impressions of your mouth. These are the basis for creating your artificial tooth, which will fit perfectly in your mouth.
You then give the implant time to heal, a process known as osseointegration. This can take six weeks to several months. Simply stated, the bone fuses together with the implant, securing it in place.
With your implant well in place, your next visit to Dr. Conte is for a second procedure to uncover the hole in the implant and attach the abutment.
Your healing period is much shorter this time. In just a few weeks, Dr. Conte attaches your new custom-made tooth to the other end of the abutment.
You care for your tooth as you would your other teeth: brushing, flossing, and letting us check it as part of your routine cleanings.
Dr. Conte has been serving the area for more than 30 years, and he is dedicated to his craft, completing 100 hours or more each year of continuing education. That means you can count on him and his team to give you the best in both time-tested and cutting-edge care.