Dental Implants

If you’re missing a tooth or several teeth, you might be feeling really frustrated. That empty spot can get uncomfortable when pieces of food get into it. You probably don’t like the way it looks. Even worse, your other teeth might start to move into the gap, causing crowding and tooth damage. If you just wish you could just have a new tooth to fill in that gap, then we at Pacific Northwest Smiles are proud to offer dental implants in Mill Creek, WA!

How Does a Dental Implant Work?

A dental implant is a metal rod that we place in a jawbone. After some recovery time, it truly becomes a part of the jaw and has the strength to be used for normal chewing.

Once you have healed from the surgery, we’ll have you back in for another appointment. We can attach a crown to the implant site. It will be just as strong and functional as an ordinary tooth. We’ll also aim to make it look natural, blending it in with your other teeth.

Instead of crowns, we can attach implant-supported dentures to replace a number of missing teeth. Rather than sitting on your gums, this type of denture attaches to your implants for maximum support and comfort.

What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants?

Replacing that missing tooth or teeth can restore your unique smile, raise your confidence, and improve your health. You’ll be able to eat better again, and you’ll prevent your other teeth from moving into the gap.

Also, did you know that your teeth and tooth roots keep your jawbone healthy? It’s true! That means that losing teeth can actually weaken your jawbone and make it start to deteriorate.

After a dental implant surgery and healing are complete, you’ll have a new tooth root that becomes a normal, permanent part of your mouth. Implants stimulate the jawbone and hold new teeth or other appliances, which can look and feel like natural teeth.

Who is a good candidate for dental implants?

Basically, anyone can benefit from having a dental implant replace a missing tooth. However, it is important for the patient to have sufficient jawbone mass because the implant needs to anchor into the jawbone and then the jawbone needs to actually grow around the implant. If you’ve been missing a number of teeth for some time, you may have lost a good deal of your jawbone mass under the missing teeth. If this is the case, we may need to first rebuild your jawbone with some grafting before we can place the implant. Dr. Greenhalgh will discuss this with you during your consultation.

What is the process of having a dental implant placed?

There is a series of steps in the process of receiving dental implants in Mill Creek, WA. They are as follows:

  • Consultation: The implant process begins with a consultation with Dr. Greenhalgh, who performs a full oral exam and takes x-rays and a CT scan to determine your jawbone mass. If he feels you have lost some bone mass, it doesn’t mean you can’t have an implant, but we may need to build up the bone with some grafting first.
  • Placement: The first step of placement is to place the titanium implant into the hole formerly occupied by the tooth root. Dr. Greenhalgh may have to drill a small hole into the jawbone to prepare it. The implant is shaped like a screw and is inserted in that fashion.
  • Osseointegration: Now the patient simply waits three to six months as the jawbone naturally grows around and accepts the titanium implant. This makes the implant base a part of the jawbone. We’ll see you over this period to check on the progress.
  • Abutment: When the jawbone has fully grown around the implant, a small metal post, called an abutment, is attached to the implant, 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.
  • How Long Does the Procedure Take?

    From start to finish, the process of having a dental implant takes anywhere from four to seven months. The variation is due to the rate the patient’s jawbone grows around the titanium implant.

    Does Dental Implant Surgery Require Anesthesia?

    Dr. Greenhalgh makes a tiny incision in the gums to access the jawbone during the initial implant placement. This only requires local anesthetic. The same is true when he adds the post. Placing the crown atop the post is completely painless and takes just a few minutes.

    How Long will My Recovery Take after Dental Implant Surgery?

    Recovery time is broken into parts that match the above procedure steps. After the implant is placed, your gums will heal quickly where we made the small incision. But you’ll need to wait from three to six months for the next step in the process, as your jawbone needs to grow around the implant. This isn’t recovery; it’s simply time spent waiting for the jawbone to incorporate the implant. Once we attach the post to the implant, your gums will need to heal again, and we allow a few more weeks to let them fully get back to normal. Again, “recovery” time would only be for a few days. After the artificial tooth is attached to the post there is no recovery; you can use your new tooth immediately.

    How To Care for Your Dental Implant

    Caring for a dental implant is no different than caring for your natural teeth — brush for two minutes twice daily and floss once. You do want to be sure to keep food and plaque from around the base of your artificial tooth.

    How Long do Dental Implants Last?

    Dental implants are incredibly durable; they are far and away the longest-lasting dental prosthetic. As long as the patient doesn’t have jawbone deterioration due to gum disease, the implant will last for decades, often the remainder of the patient’s life.

    Are There Risks Associated with Dental Implants?

    This is an extremely low-risk procedure. Implants have been used for about half a century and have proven to be very effective. The only real risk involved is of the implant not anchoring sufficiently in the jawbone and the implant failing. This is exceedingly rare — dental implant success rates are up to 95 percent nationally.

    What Can I Expect During My First Consultation with Dr. Greenhalgh?

    Dr. Greenhalgh views every consultation as a complete give and take of information between the two of you. He encourages you to ask any and all questions you may have about the process of getting an implant. The main goal, other than to provide the information you need, is to ascertain if you have sufficient bone mass to adequately anchor the titanium implant. Once he feels you’re a good candidate, Dr. Greenhalgh will walk you through the process.

    Schedule Your Consultation for Dental Implants in Mill Creek, WA

    We take care of every step of the dental implant process here at Pacific Northwest Smiles. You won’t need to make an appointment with a specialist or go to another office.

    Schedule a time to come in for a consultation with us. We’ll give you an exam and let you know what the best options are for you. Sit back, relax, and let us take care of the whole process for you right here.