Beauty, and what we find beautiful, is highly subjective. However, when it comes to a beautiful smile, there are a few common denominators: bright white enamel and a general lack of stains, chips, and breaks. The (arguably) biggest detractor from the overall beauty of your smile is missing teeth. Whether you lost them to gum disease or in accident on the softball field, missing teeth can make you look older, less attractive, and in poor health. Dr. Shawn Hofkes, a Cerritos, CA dentist with specialized training in oral surgery and implant dentistry, discusses how replacing those missing teeth with dental implants can help restore a dazzling, youthful smile.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
Dental implant posts are screw-like devices that a periodontist or oral surgeon implants into your jaw. Once in place, an implant post can secure a dental crown to replace a single missing tooth, a partial denture or bridge to replace a few missing teeth, or a full denture to replace a full arch of missing teeth. Placing dental implants usually requires 2-3 separate procedures:
- Placing the implant post. After planning where the implant posts will go, your dentist or surgeon will insert the implant in the jaw. The implant will heal and become an integrated part of the surrounding bone, a process called osseointegration. The healing process can take anywhere from 2-4 months.
- Inserting the abutment. The abutment connects the implant to the restoration (the crown, bridge, or denture plate). Some types of dental implants do not require this separate procedure.
- Positioning the restoration. Hand crafted in a dental lab by highly skilled technicians, your dental implant restoration will blend with your remaining natural teeth, completing your smile.
Advantages of Dental Implants
In the last two decades, dental implants have become the gold standard of tooth replacement options for a number of reasons. First, dental implant retained prosthetics are virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth, meaning that no one will ever know that you’ve had work done. Furthermore, dental implants can last well over twenty years with proper care, meaning you can expect to enjoy a lifetime of healthy-looking smiles.
Dental Implants and You
So, clearly, dental implants seem like a good option for replacing your missing teeth. However, you should be aware that not everyone makes a good candidate for the implant placement procedure. A few factors that could influence your candidacy include:
- Age: Dentists will not place implants in people under the age of 18, since the posts can interfere with the normal development of the jaw.
- Poor bone health: People who have compromised bone density may not qualify for implants, since the jawbone provides the support for the implant post. However, a bone grafting procedure can help some patients grow the healthy bone tissue they need in advance of dental implant placement.
- Lifestyle factors: Poor oral hygiene, smoking, and chewing smokeless tobacco will often exclude a person from receiving dental implants. However, a demonstrated commitment to better oral hygiene and quitting the use of tobacco products may help an interested patient qualify for the procedure.
About Shawn Hofkes, DDS
With advanced training in oral and maxillofacial surgery and certification in sedation dentistry, Shawn Hofkes, DDS has years of experience placing and restoring dental implants. To schedule your appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Cerritos, Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and all surrounding communities.