Everyone at OC Lifesmiles Progressive Dentistry understands how frustrating it can be to have a lackluster smile due to missing teeth. That is why we will do everything in our power to enhance your smile. Dental implants are a popular restorative procedure that can permanently replace missing teeth. Cosmetic dentist John Cross, DDS uses state-of-the art technology to personalize the size, shape, and color of your dental implants so they can blend in seamlessly with your teeth. In comparison to dentures, dental implants are unable to move or slip along your gum line since they are permanently rooted into your jawbone.
- What Are Dental Implants?
- Dental Implant Benefits
- Dental Implant Candidates
- Dental Implant Safety
- Dental Implant Types
- Dental Implant Procedure
- Do Dental Implants Hurt?
- Dental Implant Lifespan
- Dental Implants Recovery
- Dental Implant Cost
- Dental Implant Alternatives
- Additional FAQs
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are designed to replace a single missing tooth or anchor a larger restoration such as a bridge or denture. A single tooth implant is comprised of a titanium post that serves as the new tooth’s root as well as a custom-made porcelain crown to complete the visible part of the tooth. The titanium post is strategically placed into the jaw to provide a comfortable fit with the adjacent teeth. Over several months, the titanium post fuses to the jawbone, providing exceptional support and stability for the replacement tooth. The porcelain crown that is attached to this titanium post is customized for each patient to blend seamlessly with the surrounding natural teeth for beautiful results.
The process for anchored bridges and implant supported dentures is similar, beginning with the placement of one or more dental implants. Once the implants fuse to the jawbone, the custom restoration can be attached, eliminating the need for pastes or adhesives like those used with traditional dentures.
What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
Dental implants can give you a stunning smile without the need for old-fashioned dentures. Here are some of the benefits of using this treatment to restore your smile:
- It’s secure and won’t move or slip inside your mouth like dentures
- The porcelain is color-matched and polished to match your teeth perfectly
- Dental implants can make your face appear smoother, fuller, and younger
- They can improve your ability to chew, bite, and speak properly
- Implants are more comfortable than dentures
- You can continue your usual oral hygiene habits since no special maintenance is required
Who Is a Candidate for Dental Implants?
Whether you are missing a single tooth, several teeth, or if you are looking for a more natural and convenient alternative to traditional dentures, dental implants can rejuvenate your smile and restore both form and function to your teeth. Ideal dental implant candidates will have good overall health, healthy gum tissue, a fully developed jawbone, and sufficient jawbone density to receive the implant. Patients who take medications that can complicate the healing process, as well as those who suffer from certain health conditions and individuals who are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy, may not be good candidates for this surgery. Our dentist can recommend alternatives for patients who are not candidates for dental implants. During the consultation process, Dr. Cross will perform an oral exam, review your medical history, and discuss your personal goals, allowing you to make a well-informed decision about your oral health.
Are Dental Implants Safe?
Dental implants are considered safe medical devices and are consistently placed with high rates of success; however, as with any procedure, the safety and efficacy of implant dentistry relies largely on the skill, experience, and expertise of the dentist. Dr. Cross is highly trained in the surgical placement of dental implants and values the importance of properly assessing each patient’s candidacy for the procedure prior to treatment. Ensuring patients are good candidates dramatically reduces the chances of complications and implant failure. Additionally, Dr. Cross adheres to the highest standards of safety and ethics at every stage of the implantation and restoration process to provide superior care and results.
To further enhance dental implant safety, patients must also be committed to following all pre- and post-procedure care instructions, attending each follow-up appointment, and maintaining good dental hygiene. In the rare event a complication should occur, contacting our practice as soon as possible is imperative for immediate safety and long-term implant success.
What Are My Dental Implant Options?
In addition to single tooth implants, Dr. Cross can also create implant supported dentures or bridges if you need to replace multiple teeth. Our practice offers a variety of missing teeth replacement options to help you meet your needs with beautiful, long-lasting results:
- Single Tooth Implants: Single tooth implants are designed to restore the integrity of the patient’s smile with results that look and feel natural. These implants function just like natural teeth and require no special maintenance. Patients can brush and floss as usual.
- Implant Bridges: Implant bridges are used to replace multiple missing teeth in a row. Unlike traditional bridges, implant bridges do not require the support of adjacent teeth. The bridge is anchored to the jaw by using one or more dental implants to support the restoration. This unique solution may be ideal for patients who are not candidates for several individual implants, yet still seek their strength and stability.
- Implant Supported Dentures: Implant supported dentures are designed to replace full arches of teeth. Using a set of implants, such as four in the All-on-4® procedure, the denture can be secured in place without the need for pastes or adhesives. Slippage, a common concern with traditional dentures, can also be eliminated. Implant supported dentures may be a good option for patients who do not have sufficient bone density for a full set of single tooth implants.
What Is the Dental Implants Procedure Like?
Dr. Cross uses dental implants to replace the gaps in your smile caused by missing teeth. If he decides you are a good candidate for dental implants during your consultation, he will explain the procedure and answer your questions.
On the day of your procedure Dr. Cross will place the implant post into your jawbone. This will serve as a strong anchor for a permanent dental crown. Once the implant has been placed, it will need to go through a process called osseointegration, which entails the fusion of the implant to the jawbone. This makes the implant a permanent part of your mouth – just like your natural teeth. Osseointegration can take a few months for the best results; however, Dr. Cross can place a temporary crown on the implant during this period. He will recommend what to eat and drink after the procedure to help the healing process.
After the implant is secure, Dr. Cross will have the customized dental crown created. The dental crown will be designed to blend in with your teeth with results that look and feel natural. We will arrange periodic checkups with our office after the dental implant procedure to monitor your progress.
Do Dental Implants Hurt?
During the procedure to place your dental implants, Dr. Cross can use a combination of sedation techniques and local anesthetics to make sure you are both relaxed and comfortable throughout your surgery. Once your implants have been placed, over-the-counter and/or prescription pain medication, along with other soothing post-op protocols—such as keeping the head elevated, applying ice packs, and warm salt water rinses—can help mitigate any residual discomfort. Taking time to relax and heal is important, and most patients take at least 24 to 48 hours of rest with very limited physical activity after surgery. Mild discomfort and sensitivity can linger when the treated area is disturbed during the initial healing and osseointegration periods, which is why Dr. Cross recommends eating softer foods or chewing with another side of your mouth while your implants fully heal. Once the implant has healed and the restoration is placed, your new replacement tooth should look, feel, and function just like a natural tooth! If you experience any worrisome discomfort during the process, you are encouraged to contact our practice as soon as possible so that we can provide helpful tips or get you in for an immediate appointment.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
With proper care and maintenance, high-quality dental implants can last decades—sometimes even a lifetime. Restorations are typically crafted from state-of-the-art ceramic materials, which are incredibly durable and stain-resistant over time.
In order to extend the lifespan of your dental implants, Dr. Cross always suggests:
- Maintaining good oral wellness
- Committing to proper daily dental hygiene habits
- Attending twice yearly dental cleanings and exams
- Notifying our office at the first sign of a problem
- Maintaining good overall health
- Refraining from smoking and the use of tobacco products
- Protecting your implant restorations from damage when necessary with protective mouthguards, either during contact sports or to prevent wear from nighttime teeth grinding/clenching
Depending on the type of implant restorations you have, Dr. Cross will explain any specific care instructions you must follow in order to keep them in great shape.
What Can I Expect After Getting Dental Implants?
After dental implants have been placed, there will be a recovery process and a period of time for the patient to acclimate to their dental appliance. With dental implants, the recovery process is based on several factors: the amount of dental implants placed, the type of implants used, and the complexity of your particular surgical treatment plan. Depending on whether patients are receiving single tooth implants, implant bridges, or implant-supported dentures, the recovery period will vary. Patients can expect to endure some form of soreness that may include bleeding and swelling in the initial days following their procedure. Initial discomfort will often dissipate in the first week and most patients should be able to return to their normal routine and work schedule within one to two days. Because the titanium post that makes up the dental implant gradually fuses to the jawbone prior to placement of the dental restoration (e.g., dental crowns or implant-supported dentures), the overall recovery process typically lasts between three and six months.
How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?
Every dental implant procedure is customized to meet the needs of the individual patient. According to RealSelf, the average cost of a single dental implant in Orange County ranges from $1,200 to $2,475. As a result, the cost of the procedure will vary from case to case and may be influenced by factors such as the number of implants, the location of the implant(s), and which dental implant technique is chosen.
At the end of your initial consultation, Dr. Cross will provide you with a quote for the total price of your dental implant procedure. Patients who might benefit from low monthly payments with little to no interest can take advantage of our financing options. To learn more about these options, please contact a knowledgeable member of our staff.
Are There Alternatives to Dental Implants?
If you are not a good candidate for traditional dental implants, there are still a number of treatments that can help you achieve the full, functional, and beautiful smile you desire. In addition to dental implants, Dr. Cross offers many other effective and natural-looking tooth replacement options, including:
- Dental Bridges
- All-on-4® Implant Dentures
- Partial Dentures
- Full Dentures
During your consultation, Dr. Cross will explain these options and recommend the approach that is best-suited for your needs, goals, and priorities. All bridges, dentures, and partials are custom-designed and crafted from high-quality materials to provide you with an attractive, long-lasting smile.
Additional Dental Implant Frequently Asked Questions
Are dental implants covered by insurance?
Most dental insurance companies consider dental implants to be an elective procedure; however, it is always worthwhile to check your benefits and find out exactly what treatments your specific plan covers. If you have insurance questions, our knowledgeable office team can help provide you with the answers and guidance you are looking for.
If your insurance plan doesn’t cover dental implants and you’d like to explore ways to make the cost of treatment more affordable, we do accept major credit cards and CareCredit® for payment. CareCredit is a trusted third-party lender that provides qualified applicants with a variety of loan options designed specifically for payment of healthcare procedures.
Will I need a bone graft to get dental implants?
For patients who do not have sufficient jawbone density, a bone grafting procedure may be required in order to strengthen the bone so it can properly accommodate the dental implant. Patients who already have adequate jawbone density can proceed with the dental implant procedure without a bone grafting procedure.
How many dental implants will I need?
The amount of dental implants required for your procedure will be based on your individual needs and the state of your smile. The type of implants selected will determine how many are needed, as well. For example, if single tooth implants are being used, the total will depend on how many missing teeth are being replaced. For implant bridges and implant-supported dentures, multiple implants will be utilized to anchor the appliance into a secure place. Dr. Cross can better inform you about the number of implants required to meet your goals at your initial consultation.
How long does it take to get dental implants?
The length of time it takes to get your dental implants is specific to the condition of your oral health and the proposed treatment plan that Dr. Cross develops for you. Some patients may require dental procedures, bone grafts, or periodontal treatments prior to having their implants surgically placed. You may also want to consider that the implants will take some time to heal properly before the final restorations can be affixed to the implants. Although the dental implants process can take more time than other less-intensive tooth replacement options, the thorough approach Dr. Cross uses is designed to create healthy, successful, long-lasting results. To get a ballpark estimate on how long it might take to get your dental implants, we suggest scheduling a personal consultation with Dr. Cross.
How do I clean my dental implants?
The process of taking care of your dental implants is basically the same as taking care of your natural teeth! Brushing and flossing twice daily, in addition to regularly scheduled professional cleanings (usually every six months) and annual dental exams, should keep your dental implants clean and healthy long-term.
Why do dental implants fail?
There are many reasons that dental implants can fail, which is why Dr. Cross strives to provide his patients with the highest-quality dental implant treatment at every stage of the process. For starters, Dr. Cross takes every precaution to ensure patients are properly evaluated for candidacy and receive any necessary dental treatments prior to implant surgery. He also plans and performs dental implant surgery using state-of-the-art technology to enhance precision and improve outcomes. Follow-up appointments, annual exams, and urgent appointments (when needed) help Dr. Cross to track patients’ healing and identify potential concerns when they can be treated early. Finally, Dr. Cross and his team take the time to educate patients on how to properly care for their dental implants post-operatively and on into the future to support long-term implant success.
How does smoking affect dental implants?
It has been proven that smoking and use of tobacco products before and/or after implant surgery can cause serious complications that may lead to implants failing at an increased rate. Smoking and tobacco use diminish healthy blood circulation that is needed for proper tissue healing and fusion of the bone and implant (osseointegration). Generally speaking, implant dentists recommend that patients stop all smoking and tobacco use a minimum of two weeks prior to surgery and two weeks after. Though it is not absolutely necessary, complete cessation of smoking and tobacco use is ideal for producing optimal long-term implant results. Many of our dental implant patients take this opportunity to rethink their tobacco habit and choose to seek out additional support with this challenging lifestyle change.
What can I eat after dental implant surgery?
Unlike dentures, dental implants do not require patients to keep a strict diet. There are, however, some foods that should be avoided in order to prevent any discomfort or disruptions to your results. Sticky and hard foods such as candy, ice, and specific vegetables and fruits should be avoided in order to reduce the risks of causing damage to your dental implants. Dr. Cross can provide you with more detailed guidelines after your procedure, to help ensure your dental implants provide long-lasting results.
Contact Us for Your Dental Implants
If you would like more information about dental implants or other restorative dentistry options, please contact our practice. Dr. John Cross can develop a treatment plan with this innovative treatment to give you an amazing new smile.