Dental implants can completely renovate your smile, restore your ability to chew food and improve your confidence. Most people are extremely satisfied with their new set of teeth; however, having implants done is a significant procedure, one that you should only entrust to a qualified oral surgeon with whom you feel comfortable. Before you commit to the procedure, here are 9 important questions you should ask an oral surgeon before dental implants.
1. Am I a good candidate for dental implants?
Most people are, in fact, excellent candidates for this procedure, from the young to the elderly. However, there are certain instances in which you might not be a qualified candidate — for example, if you suffer from certain medical problems or low bone density in the jaw. Make sure your oral surgeon takes a close look at your situation to determine whether the procedure is right for you.
2. What are the risk factors?
Getting dental implants is a fairly low-risk procedure, but there is an inherent risk anytime you drill into the jaw or introduce a new object into the mouth. Have your doctor explain to you the potential risks of the procedure (for example, infection or failure of the implants o fuse to the jawbone), and help you prepare to compensate for those risks.
3. How many times have you performed this procedure?
As with any type of surgery (oral or otherwise), the more experience the surgeon has with the procedure, the more confident you can be that he/she will do a good job in your case. Ask about your surgeon’s experience, how many implants done in the past year, etc. Also, feel free to ask about the surgeon’s training. Keep asking questions until you’re comfortable with the answers.
4. What are the odds of success/rejection?
The vast majority of dental implant procedures are completely successful (generally 93-98 percent). That said, every patient is different, and every situation is different. Ask your surgeon to tell you his personal success rate, and the odds for success in your case — and make sure you’re satisfied with the answer.
5. How long will the implants last?
Dental implants are considered a permanent solution, and most are designed to last for decades with proper care. In many cases, you may never need to replace them. Talk to your oral surgeon for specifics on the life expectancy of your implants and how to extend their life with care and maintenance.
6. How long does the process take?
Generally speaking, most dental implant procedures take place in two steps with several months between them. First, the surgeon will install implants into your jawbone, providing you a temporary set of teeth while the implants bond to the jaw. Several months later, your permanent teeth will be affixed to the implants. The entire process takes between 4-8 months.
In certain cases, for the right candidates who require a full arch restoration, your surgeon may be able to affix an immediate temporary prosthesis that will look and function just like your original teeth, eliminating the need for loose fitting dentures in the process. (We refer to this process as “teeth in a day.”) Ask your doctor if this is an option for you.
7. How should I prepare for the procedure?
Like any surgery, a dental implant procedure requires a bit of advance preparation. Ask your oral surgeon about what is required of you to prepare for the procedure, as well as what to expect afterward.
8. How do I take care of my dental implants?
In the vast majority of cases, you’ll take care of your implants the same way as you would your original teeth, with regular brushing/flossing and periodic dental checkups. However, your oral surgeon may recommend specific tips such as a daily Water Pik treatment to care for your new implants in a way that extends their life. Be sure you know what to expect, and be prepared to protect your investment and your smile!
9. Do you have any references I can contact?
When making a final decision to work with an oral surgeon, this may be the most important question you ask. One of the best ways to decide whether to trust this person with your mouth is to talk to others who have gone through the procedure. Ask specifically to contact people who have had dental implants; call them and ask them about their experience, and whether they would recommend the surgeon to others.
If you’re interested in learning more about getting dental implants and are ready to ask an experienced oral surgeon about it, we are here to help! Give Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery a call today at 706-235-5570.