A New Smile Awaits: Explore Dental Implants in Orange County

  1. Introduction

If the space next to you in bed has been empty since losing a tooth, you need to know you can live with a full set of teeth again. Dental implants are hard fixed, long-lasting, and look just like your natural teeth. If you are missing teeth, the space they left behind might be affecting your lifestyle in ways you aren’t even aware of. It is hard to suffer no ill effects from losing a tooth. When a tooth is lost, you lose bone in that area. Over time, if several teeth are lost, many people experience a sunken look in their facial appearance. This can make you appear much older than you are. Bite and food choices are affected when teeth are lost. Often people change their diets because they are unable to chew certain foods. This can cause an unhealthy shift in nourishment. Imagine biting into a crisp apple or a thick juicy steak. Dental implants can restore chewing efficiency comparable to that of natural teeth. This will allow you to eat your favorite foods with confidence and without pain, enjoying the good taste and good health that comes with it. It can also stop the progression of periodontal disease. Normally when teeth are lost, supporting bone is also lost, making teeth adjacent to the area more likely to be lost as well, greatly increasing the complexity and cost of dental treatment. With dental implants, teeth can be restored without affecting the bordering teeth, providing more natural and predictable tooth replacement. Periodontal health can be maintained with easier access between teeth, resulting in improved long-term oral health. Dental implants have helped hundreds of thousands of people confidently live normal lives. Chances are high that they will work for you too.

1.1 Benefits of Dental Implants

Dental implants are an excellent way to replace missing teeth. Implants provide a solution to wobbly dentures and missing teeth and allow you the opportunity to eat almost anything and talk or laugh with confidence once more. People are catching on to how effective dental implants are, and patients often express how they wish they had had it done years ago. Implants are substitute tooth roots that provide a firm foundation for permanent or removable replacement teeth and are made to match your natural teeth. Compared to conventional replacement options such as dentures and bridges, which are less favorable and often further compromise the state of your mouth, dental implants are designed to last a lifetime if taken care of properly and are a more cost-effective long-term solution to missing teeth. When you take into account the increased level of comfort and self-esteem that comes with implants, the benefits are clear to see.

1.2 Overview of Dental Implant Procedure

There are many ways to replace a missing tooth, including a removable partial or full denture and a fixed bridge. A removable partial has hooks that attach to the teeth on either side of the space where the tooth is missing. The hooks can be very detrimental to the long-term health of those teeth because they move the teeth very slightly over a long period of time. This can loosen those teeth, and they can be lost. A fixed bridge has the potential to be fairly damaging to your mouth. The teeth that are on either side of the missing tooth have to be cut down to place a crown on them. The bridge is then inserted, and eventually, the teeth beneath the bridge can decay and be lost due to the fact that it is impossible to keep the bridge completely clean. With a removable partial or full denture, there is always the potential for some embarrassment, not to mention a great deal of discomfort. These other methods are simply not as comfortable or successful as a dental implant, and they do not look as real as an implant.

Dental implants are today’s best alternative to natural teeth. They can last a lifetime and keep your mouth strong and healthy. Dental implants are small, sturdy titanium posts that act as the root structure for artificial teeth. They are placed into your jawbone and over a short period of time, will become solidly fused to your bone.

  1. Finding the Right Dental Implant Specialist

Dental implants are an advanced medical technology that is being offered in many dentists across the United States. Implant companies are aggressive in their marketing and therefore many specialists are learning how to perform dental implant treatments. The problem being the learning curve, and the amount of dentists jumping onto the bandwagon – are offering dental implant treatments that they are not truly qualified to perform. The first step in finding a dental professional who can provide dental implants is to search for a dental implant dentist. At this stage, it is vital to seek advice from a dentist who has had some in-depth training from respected institutions. The learning process should span over a few years and involve a combination of didactic and surgical training. Unfortunately, many dental specialists who have tried to enter the world of dental implants have done so with minimal training and therefore the learning curve is steep for them resulting in a high failure rate and subsequently a patient base that has to seek another specialist to undertake the corrective treatment. Written testimonies of the amount of dental implant treatments that have gone wrong are abundant with patients being left with debilitating and untreatable pain, extensive dental/facial rehabilitation, loss of taste, and loss of feeling in their head, neck, or face. This is a scary prospect considering how much dental implant treatment costs. This leaves the patient in a situation that is economically and emotionally draining. In order to prevent oneself from falling victim to these circumstances, it is wise to seek an experienced prosthodontist or oral surgeon to perform the dental implant treatment from the outset. BEGO Semados is a German company that has been making dental implant components for over 40 years. They have a very strict protocol which all of their product users must follow. This means that they only provide products to qualified dentists and specialists. While no company can guarantee the success of a treatment, due to the high number of variables associated with tooth replacement, companies such as BEGO provide a safer and more predictable treatment option for the patient.

2.1 Researching Dental Implant Clinics

You also want to look into the clinic’s environment and technology that is used. With the varying complexity in dental implant procedures and a large room for error, it is important to find a clinic that uses high-tech methods as well as having a clean and a well-organized environment, all for minimizing any risk of complications. Look into clinics that have an in-house 3D CT scanner, as this can greatly improve accuracy in the diagnostic stages and in planning the implant placement.

Cost will inevitably be a factor. Although it is important to not make this the sole basis for your decision making. High cost often does reflect quality, and a higher skilled specialist will usually charge more. It is wiser to spend more money in this area, as high quality results can greatly improve quality of life, while complications from a lower skilled dentist can lead to more costs in the future. See what your insurance company will cover and what the out-of-pocket expenses will be.

It is important to find the right dentist, and ideally the most skilled specialist in dental implants. Research online and also with your local area dentists and prosthodontists. Make sure to explore and confirm the educational background of the dentist, checking how much experience they need in implant and reconstructive dentistry. With the field being so new, you want a dentist who has substantial experience in the procedures, and has a track record of success. The majority of dentists and prosthodontists who are well skilled will feature case studies on their websites highlighting their strategies and results. These can also be found within dental publications.

2.2 Reading Patient Reviews and Testimonials

Remember to look for posted photographs of the actual patients. The presence of before and after shots can be a solid indicator of the practice’s reputation and the skill of the dentist. It is important to take these photographs for what they are worth; if they are the only photographs on the website, they could be only generic photos chosen for their smile appearance. If the before photos are missing, or look identical to the after shots, be wary. This is usually an indicator of non-authentic photos. The best way to determine the authenticity of the photos is the level of detail provided in the case. If they include specifics about the treatment, the photo is more likely to be a true representation of the work provided. Any type of testimonial is an important indicator of the practice’s reliability, but the purest form of a testimonial is a personal one from a known source. If there is any chance you can get in contact with a patient of the clinic, do so. This will likely be your most reliable source of information. An informed patient can also provide information on how well the implant has been integrated, the type of treatment the dentist provided, and often the rating of the experience with that dentist. With the patient’s guidance, you may be able to additionally evaluate the dentist’s individual competency in the eyes of a previous patient. Any positive information may lead you to bookmark this doctor for further evaluation, and any horror stories should obviously be a clear indicator to steer clear of that specific dentist. Be open-minded in your search; there are countless dental implant specialists across the country. If you are not 100 percent confident with the information you have retrieved, continue your search. Make sure your various sources of information are aligned, as you do not want to make any assumptions based on a single positive or negative review. Patient testimonials and reviews are a great free resource of information, there is often nothing to lose in visiting various dentist websites to retrieve information about a dentist prior to making contact. Remember that it is your health, so do what you feel is necessary to ensure you are making the best-informed decision.

2.3 Considering the Dentist’s Experience and Credentials

Prior to the surgeon’s acceptance of the case and the clinic’s agreement to provide dental services to restore the patient’s oral health, the dentist must consider what the likelihood of success for the patient will be. What solution can bring the patient back to normal or close to normal oral health and function with a high chance of success and minimal risk? When asking these questions, the dentist must choose the best possible course of action for the benefit and quality of life of the patient. This process improves communication between the clinic, patient, and dental technician. The execution of each method parallels the quality of communication and preplanning between the dentist and the dental technician. A dentist inquiring on behalf of his patient for a partial denture or bridge has a high chance of a quality restorative outcome, but research states that the best method for restoring oral health to patients missing teeth is with the installation of dental implants. This too has a higher chance of success with the same criteria of quality restoration and patient benefit, making it the best choice for the patient.

A dentist seeking to restore dental function in patients missing teeth through the common utilization of dental implants should possess various credentials and an ample amount of experience in the field. The process of a dental implant involves an in-depth knowledge of the human mouth and the execution of more than just the dental implant itself. There is consideration to the overall health of the patient in which the dentist must evaluate whether or not the patient is suitable for the dental implant, as well as what type of implant and at what time it would be best to execute the procedure. The actual surgical component is usually multi-faceted and requires an extended period of time. A more experienced dentist will have a more focused plan for the surgery with a higher chance of successful execution.

  1. Preparing for Dental Implant Surgery

In some cases, further cooperation with your medical doctor may be necessary; this will be determined in your treatment planning phase. For instance, patients with certain medical conditions may be asked to obtain antibiotic prophylaxis or further clearance from their medical doctor prior to surgery. Finally, there must be ample jaw bone present in the mouth, in which the dental implants would be placed. This bone will aid in supporting the implant, at which time, a determination will be made and implant site preparation may be necessary.

It is important to establish an individualized treatment plan to address your specific needs. This involves a comprehensive dental exam to include x-rays and, in some cases, blood work. During the initial consultation and examination, your doctor will discuss the various methods of dental implant treatment, which allow you to make the best informed decision. Following this consultation visit, you will receive a letter from your dental professional, outlining your proposed treatment plan. An informed patient can feel confident and comfortable with their investment in dental implant treatment.

3.1 Dental Examination and Treatment Planning

  1. Do you have enough bone to support an implant? 2. Is the bone in good enough condition to support an implant? 3. Is the implant the best option to replace your missing tooth/teeth?

At this point, there are three main questions that you should discuss with your dentist to see if dental implants are the right option for you:

Traditionally, your dentist will examine you and then take x-rays to assess the jaw bone, teeth, and surrounding tissue. Depending on the quality of the x-ray, additional x-rays or a CT scan may be obtained to provide a more detailed assessment. A CT scan can define the location of vital structures in the jaw as well as the exact dimensions of the bone.

A systematic approach to the dental examination and treatment planning is a vital step in ensuring the success of your implant surgery. This phase is interactive and may involve your general dentist and a specialist such as a periodontist, oral surgeon, or a prosthodontist. The key is to understand what the end result will be before any surgery takes place.

3.2 Preoperative Instructions and Medications

  • Diabetic medications: 1. If you are taking insulin or oral diabetic medication, your regular dosage may be decreased on the day of surgery as well as the following day. You should eat a smoothie or milkshake and take half of your usual morning dosage.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: 1. Discontinue taking these medications three days before surgery. This includes all medications in the NSAIDs category (e.g. ibuprofen, Motrin, and Aleve.)
  • Aspirin and blood thinning medications: 1. Discontinue taking these medications ten days before surgery. (If you are taking aspirin for arthritis, consult your prescribing physician.)
  • Anticonvulsant medications: 1. If you are currently taking anticonvulsant medication, consult your prescribing physician to determine if a change in dosage is necessary while consuming a soft or liquid diet after surgery.
  • Antibiotics: 1. Be sure to take the prescribed antibiotics to reduce the chance of infection. Continue taking the antibiotics until they are all gone.
  • Preoperative instructions: 1. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery. If you regularly take medications in the morning, do so with a small sip of water. This includes all medications you are instructed to take the morning of surgery with a small sip of water.

3.3 Understanding the Recovery Process

– Pain: Take pain medication as recommended by your dentist or oral surgeon. Eat soft foods and take ibuprofen (unless allergic), which will help relieve inflammation. At this time, it is important to remember to keep up your oral hygiene to prevent infection.

– Bleeding: Some bleeding after an extraction or dental implant is normal. If excessive bleeding occurs, bite on a gauze pad or a tea bag for 30 minutes. If bleeding continues, use a gauze pad or tea bag for another 30 minutes. It is important to keep the head elevated (do not lie flat) and refrain from physical activity as much as possible.

Recovery after dental implant surgery can vary, but is generally easy compared to other dental surgical procedures. The placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures. The first procedure is to place the implant in the jaw bone, and the second procedure (usually 6-12 months later) is to uncover the implant and attach a post, on which an artificial tooth will be placed. At the time the implant is placed in the jaw, a temporary tooth may be placed on the implant, but is not to be used to bite on hard. Follow these guidelines to make your recovery go as smoothly as possible:

  1. The Dental Implant Surgery

Before the dental implant placement procedure, detailed talks are conducted to establish the best form of anesthesia/sedation. The choice of anesthetic and level of sedation will depend upon the complexity of the procedure, your level of apprehension, and your personal feelings/preferences. Local anesthetic, the numbing of just the area needing treatment, is routinely used for simple, less invasive procedures. The majority of dental implant cases are more involved and often require sections of the mouth to be numbed or anesthetized. For these situations commonly the anesthetic will be administered by an anesthetic solution to numb larger areas, often provided by a different dental professional who is qualified as an anesthetist or oral surgeon. The potential for this technique varies depending upon local laws and regulations. The anesthetic solution or, less commonly in dental implant treatment, nitrous oxide gas (laughing gas) will sedate you and will reduce consciousness and awareness of what is happening in the present moment. The commonly preferred form of sedation for dental implant treatment is oral sedation which is a tablet or liquid medication used to produce a higher level of sedation. An example of this is Halcion. Higher and more advanced forms of sedation and anesthesia can also be arranged, but will often require a specialist in dental anesthesiology or an MD anesthesiologist. If you have any concerns or questions regarding anesthesia or sedation, it is important to consult your dental professional who can simplify things specific to your case and can liaise with other dental or medical professionals involved in your treatment.

4.1 Anesthesia and Sedation Options

There are various levels of sedation that can be achieved through medication and/or nitrous oxide inhalation sedation (laughing gas). The levels of sedation include minimal sedation (the patient is awake but relaxed), moderate sedation (the patient may not remember much of the procedure, slur their words, and be in a drowsy state), and deep sedation (the patient is on the edge of consciousness but can still be awakened). The American Dental Association (ADA) has clearly outlined separate definitions, educational requirements, and permits for enteral (inhalation) minimal and moderate sedation, as well as enteral deep sedation/general anesthesia. This is to ensure patient safety and clarify the difference between a sedation procedure and a general anesthesia procedure. The most appropriate sedation option can be determined through a discussion between the patient and their dental surgeon or specialist, taking into consideration the planned procedure, medical history, and level of dental anxiety. Patients should also consider their dental insurance coverage, as medical insurance may not cover a higher level of sedation that is unnecessary for a specific dental procedure.

Implant dentistry has revolutionized the replacement of teeth. Dental implants, which are designed to be placed in the jawbone, are small metal posts that act as tooth roots and serve as the base for a variety of replacement teeth. Dental implant treatment is a team effort between the patient, the dental specialist (oral and maxillofacial surgeon or periodontist), and the referring dentist who provides the crown or fixed removable prosthesis. Dental implants have proven to be a functional and reliable solution for replacing missing teeth and are often the standard of care compared to other options such as crowned bridgework and removable prostheses. However, many patients are often hesitant when it comes to dental surgical procedures like dental implants due to concerns about discomfort during and after the procedure. It is important to understand that discomfort and pain can be minimized through different anesthesia and sedation options.

4.2 Placement of Dental Implants

The dental implant or a screw is then placed into the bone. A temporary abutment may be placed on the implant until a later date when the final abutment will be placed. This procedure is generally performed using a simple local anesthesia as if treatment were a standard dental filling. The benefit of this is an opportunity to see how the patient responds to the placement of the implant, with an option for the patient to consider using alternate anesthesia options if necessary for the second stage of the procedure. A common side effect of this treatment is minor bleeding after the procedure. If there is excessive swelling or pain, the patient should contact the dentist.

The dentist will proceed to open up the gum tissue where the dental implant will be placed. In many situations, this can be done with a simple incision followed by the use of a punch to create a small “core” of gum tissue. In some cases, when there is limited soft tissue, a larger flap is raised and will result in the use of sutures to reposition the soft tissue. The goal is to have an opening where the dental implant will be submerged within the tissue, so the type of incision is not so important.

4.3 Bone Grafting and Sinus Lift Procedures

Sometimes, when the maxillary sinus is enlarged and intrudes on the upper posterior teeth, there is insufficient bone quantity for implant placement. A simple procedure known as the “sinus lift” entails elevation of the sinus membrane and grafting of bone to regenerate the lost bone. This procedure more often than not can be performed at the time of implant placement. The area and extent of the graft depend on the amount of residual bone. Development in the maxilla and the sinus will normally proceed until 18 years of age and will continue to expand as the patient ages. Thus, this procedure is often indicated in the elderly.

When an implant has been allowed to “heal” (i.e. fuse with the bone) long enough or when an implant has substantial stability for primary fixation, a socket (the bony hole in which a tooth root was formerly housed) is left vacant, which typically fills in with dense jaw bone. Occasionally, an implant may be placed into a post-extraction socket, and if the walls of the socket are very thin, they will be more prone to fracture during normal function. In these cases, Dr. Basti can perform a procedure called a bone graft, which involves lifting the membrane up, placing a bone graft into the sinus, and allowing the bone to heal for a few months. This will create more room for the placement of an implant and will increase the chance of long-term success. This new bone will actually replace old bone, and the process of an implant can be reattempted. This is a predictable procedure that has shown exceptional results.

  1. Postoperative Care and Maintenance

Brushing and flossing your teeth Sunday after the surgery is to be avoided for at least 24 hours. When brushing the teeth, the surgical area should be avoided initially, and then when allowed it should be done gently and carefully. It may be more difficult to keep the area clean, but it is important to keep the bacteria levels down. Use a chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash (if prescribed, rinse the mouth 2x daily as per the instructions of the solution). This will help to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth. A high standard of oral hygiene is an important factor in the long-term success of dental implant treatment.

Like any surgical procedure, there may be some discomfort following dental implant surgery. This is usually due to the stitches, and the pain, bruising, and swelling are normally at its worst in the first 24-48 hours. Prescription pain medications may be taken as directed. Usually, a painkiller such as paracetamol or ibuprofen is sufficient. Ice should be applied to the side of the face where surgery was performed. Apply the ice continuously while you are awake for the first 24 hours to minimize the swelling. After 48 hours, the ice will have no effect. A swelling on the side of the face where surgery was performed is normal after this procedure. This will usually become apparent the day following surgery and will not reach its maximum until 2-3 days after the surgery. The swelling will then gradually subside and should be gone after 7 days. Rest and limited physical activity are also advised as this will speed up the healing process and reduce the swelling.

5.1 Managing Pain and Swelling

This section provides a brief summary of the steps a patient should follow to manage post-operative pain and swelling. Acute pain and swelling is a normal occurrence after surgery and usually lasts for 2-3 days. To prevent it from occurring or to alleviate the symptoms, the patient should take the prescribed pain medications as directed. In some instances, stronger pain medicine will be prescribed at the time of the surgical procedure. It is not uncommon for patients to have severe pain in the days following surgery and in this case, stronger pain medicine should be obtained from the surgeon. Use of an ice pack (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off) on the face over the area of swelling will help to prevent swelling and alleviate symptoms. After 2 days, warm moist heat can be applied to the area if swelling or bruising is still present. Do not exceed the recommended number of days the medication should be taken and do not drink alcohol while taking prescribed pain medicine. High doses of pain medicine and alcohol can be harmful to the liver. Please email or call the surgeon to report any significant increase in pain or swelling from the third day after surgery as this is not normal.

5.2 Oral Hygiene Practices for Dental Implants

Maintaining dental implants is no different from maintaining a natural set of teeth, provided the patient has a healthy set of gums and teeth. While implants cannot decay, they can develop plaque and tartar, and fail due to poor oral hygiene. Long-term success of a dental implant is dependent on the health of the patient’s gums and bone surrounding the implant. It is important the patient maintains regular check-ups and cleans with the dental professional who did the implants. Similar to natural teeth, plaque and debris must be removed after meals with the help of a toothbrush and an interdental cleaner. An array of cleaning aids such as brushes, floss, and irrigators can help to keep dental implants clean. It is vital to avoid any metal instruments that can scratch the implant surface. In cases where the surrounding gum tissue is unable to heal and regenerate, it may be difficult to clean the area around the implant. The implant may then become mobile, and repair will be necessary. In other cases, if the bone loss is too severe, the implant cannot be saved, resulting in removal of the implant, and a repeat of the procedure at a later time. With proper care, dental implants are a reliable and long-lasting form of teeth replacement.

5.3 Regular Dental Check-ups and Maintenance Procedures

Plastic coated or nylon tipped instruments are used to avoid scratching the surface of the implant. The implant is polished with a tin oxide abrasive and air polishing unit. Home care instructions and diet analysis may be provided. Clinical and radiographic examinations will be done at regular intervals to monitor the condition of the bone supporting the implant. This is essential to ensure the long-term success of the treatment and address any early remediable problems. Early plaque-induced inflammation or infection can be treated and resolved without any further bone loss if it is detected in the early stages.

Dental implant patients with good oral hygiene and controlled systemic health problems are ideal candidates for regular maintenance. Patients are advised to routinely visit the dentist for routine check-ups and cleanings. The interval between these appointments can be extended once it is established that the patient is maintaining the implants and demonstrating good oral hygiene. Each patient will be re-evaluated on an individual basis. The dental hygienist will use both hand instruments and ultrasonic scalers to clean the implant abutments and exposed implant surfaces.

Ready to Transform Your Smile? Visit Smile Magic Dentistry for Expert Dental Implants in Orange County! Schedule your consultation today at SmileMagicDentistry.com and take the first step towards a confident, radiant smile!