Generally speaking, your adult teeth are meant to last you a lifetime. Sometimes, however, a tooth cannot be saved. Millions of adults lose their teeth for reasons related to decay, periodontal disease, or even facial trauma. When left untreated, tooth loss can lead to additional problems, including degradation of underlying bone and tissue. Thankfully, one of the most natural-looking and functional options is to have dental implants placed into your smile. At Mercer Island Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Dr. Streelman is proud to offer dental to anyone in Mercer Island, Bellevue, and Issaquah.

What Are Dental Implants?

A dental implant is essentially a small screw usually made from titanium. Dr. Matthew Streelman inserts them into your jawbone, where they fuse with the surrounding bone, holding them securely in place. The implant can then serve as an artificial root. On top of these roots, your board-certified oral surgeon can safely and comfortably apply an abutment, which is a connector onto which you can get a crown, bridge, or partial dental arch. Ultimately, implants can provide a permanent solution to tooth loss, allowing you to both look and feel just like your old self again.

The Benefits of Getting Dental Implants

When it comes to replacing lost teeth, dental implants are one of the best options as they are a more permanent and comfortable solution than dentures. In addition, patients can anticipate some other benefits to their oral health and to their quality of life. Some of the benefits of getting dental implants include:

  • Tooth loss can often result in bone loss. Implants can help you avoid this unwanted complications.
  • Dental implants give you an opportunity to get replacement teeth that look and feel just like your natural teeth.
  • Implants empower full functionality, including strong bites and natural patterns of speech.
  • Dental implants are very easy to care for just like you natural teeth.
  • With the right maintenance, dental implants can be a lifelong solution for a missing tooth.

How We Diagnose and Determine Candidates for Dental Implant Surgery

If you are missing one or more teeth, you may be a good candidate for dental implants. One thing Dr. Streelman will need to check is whether you have sufficient bone tissue in your jaw. Without the required volume of tissue, you may need a bone graft before you can receive implants. Additionally, Dr. Streelman will need to conduct a physical exam of your mouth at our Mercer Island office, ensuring there are no underlying conditions that require treatment. Generally, you are an ideal candidate for dental implants if you:

  • Are missing one or more of your adult teeth and are healthy enough to undergo surgery in general.
  • Have sufficient bone material in your jaw or are eligible for a bone graft.
  • Are looking for a solution more permanent and comfortable than traditional bridges or dentures.

What Types of Prostheses are Used with Dental Implants?

The implant itself serves as an artificial tooth root. Onto that implant, one of several different types of prosthetic may be placed, serving as a substitute for the lost tooth. Your prosthesis can be designed to replace a single tooth, several teeth, or a whole row of teeth. (For more information on replacing a whole row of teeth, see our All-on-4® dental implants information.)

What Are the Costs Involved in Getting Dental Implants in Mercer Island, WA?

One of the most common questions we get about dental implants is how much they will cost. The price point for dental implants can vary quite a bit, simply depending on the number of teeth that need to be replaced, the number of implants, and other factors. For example, the total cost will increase if additional surgical procedures like bone grafting are needed. At Mercer Island Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we seek to make high-quality care as accessible as possible. Reach out to us to learn more about the options for flexible financing.

Does Dental Insurance Cover Implants?

Insurance plans vary quite a bit on whether they offer assistance for dental implants. While more basic plans often do not cover implants, higher-end plans, especially those with cosmetic coverage, may pay as much as 50 percent of the total implant cost. It is always wise to check your policy before seeking implants.

The Dental Implant Process

Before you come in for your implant process, it may be helpful to know more about what the individual steps entail. The specifics of the dental implant process can vary depending on any complicating factors, such as the need for a bone graft. With that said, the process usually looks something like this:

Initial Appointment, Scan, and Custom Treatment Plan

During your initial consultation, Dr. Streelman will evaluate your dental health, ensuring that you are a good candidate for implants. You will also receive a full dental scan, providing your oral surgeon with a clearer picture of your teeth and underlying bone structures. This information can be used to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs. If you require any preparatory procedures, such as bone grafting or the extraction of unhealthy teeth, these procedures can be scheduled ahead of your dental implant placement.

The Surgical Placement of the Implant

During the initial surgery, Dr. Streelman will place the implants into your jawbone. This typically involves small incisions, allowing the gums to be peeled back and the underlying bone exposed. For this surgery, Dr. Streelman will use sedation to make the process as comfortable as possible. Before the next step in the process, you will need to allow some time for the implants to fuse with the bone.

The Placement of the Tooth Prosthetic

It may take a few months for the implant to fuse with the bone, but this is vital for keeping those implants secure. During this time, you may have a temporary replacement tooth to conceal any visible gaps in your smile. Once the healing process is complete, your dentist works closely with Dr. Streelman will deliver your final prosthesis. This is secured to the implant with a screw or dental cement.

Follow Up Appointments

After your tooth prosthetic is placed, Dr. Streelman may ask you to come back for a series of routine follow-ups. These appointments give your oral surgeon a chance to verify that you are adjusting to the implants and that everything is healing properly. This can also be a great opportunity for you to ask Dr. Streelman any outstanding questions about caring for your implants.

How Do I Know if Dental Implants are Right for Me?

If you have lost a single too, multiple teeth, or anticipate the loss of teeth, then it is critical to start considering your options for dental restoration. Dental implants represent one of the most permanent and comfortable options, allowing you to enjoy a natural-looking smile as well as improved dental functionality. Further, implants often last longer and require less maintenance than dentures. If you have any questions about whether you are a good candidate for dental implants, we invite you to contact our Mercer Island practice directly.

Are Dental Implants Safe?

Dental implants are a safe option for restoring your smile, but, as with any surgery, there are some minor risks. Your surgeon can help you assess your own risk level as you think about getting implants.

Is Dental Implant Surgery Painful?

Another question we receive from our patients is if they should anticipate pain during their dental implant surgery. Our mission at Mercer Island Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery is always to deliver optimal oral health care while keeping the patient as comfortable as possible. During certain steps of the process, most notably the actual placement of the implants, we utilize a range of sedation options based on patient health and preference. After surgery, pain can be mitigated with either prescription or over the counter pain medications.

Anesthesia Options

Dr. Streelman provides sedation and chooses the right method based on the nature of the procedure and the patient’s individual needs and expectations.

IV Sedation

For patients with dental anxieties or who face a particularly long procedure, Dr. Streelman may recommend IV sedation, something Mercer Island Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery offers in-house to ensure patient comfort.

Local Anesthesia

For more minor procedures or in instances where patients do not wish to be sedated, our oral surgeon can also create comfort through the application of localized anesthesia.

Dental Implants vs. Dentures: Which is Better?

Some patients simply prefer dentures to dental implants, and that is okay! Dentures can be less expensive, and they may also feel more familiar. On the other hand, dentures can lead to greater discomfort and to more problems with speech and chewing. In contrast, dental implants last a lifetime, where dentures may only last a decade. As such, implants can represent a better value, even when used to secure dentures in place.

Recovery from Post Dental Implant Surgery

After you get dental implants, you will need to give your body some time to rest and to heal. Here is a quick guide to what you can expect from your recovery. We also provide detailed surgical instructions to help you recover from implant placement.

How Long Does It Take to Heal After Getting Dental Implants?

Once you have your implants placed, you will need to prepare for ample time for the bone to fuse with the implants. This is an important part of the healing process, keeping the implants snug and secure for the placement of your replacement teeth. This process typically takes a matter of months.

Pain Management After My Dental Implant Procedure

Following your dental implant surgery, you can anticipate some soreness and discomfort. Most patients say that the worst of their pain subsides within one to two days. You can manage the pain using either over-the-counter remedies or prescription painkillers. Dr. Streelman can furnish you with various options.

How Long After Dental Implants Can I Eat Normally?

After surgery, you will need to leave gauze bandages on the incision site for about an hour. After that, you may eat, but we recommend sticking with soft foods and liquids for the first 24 hours. Also, avoid anything too hot or spicy. You may gradually return to a normal diet over the course of five to seven days.

How Long Do Dental Implants Last?

Dental implants are intended to be a permanent part of your smile. Patients can expect dental implants to last for a decade or more, and one study found that most patients still had strong, healthy implants 30 years after implant placement. As for the dental prostheses, these may need to be replaced eventually. However, you can extend the lifespan of your artificial teeth by being consistent in dental care, including regular brushing, flossing, and trips to the dentist for a cleaning and exam.

Mercer Island’s Compassionate Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Dental implants may be the best solution to restore your smile. We invite you to make an appointment with our experienced oral surgeon and dental anesthesiologist serving the greater community of Mercer Island, Bellevue, and Issaquah. Contact our office at Mercer Island Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery or call (206) 690-5417 at your convenience.