Understanding Dental Implants


Ask an expert about the art and science of implant dentistry

If you want to learn more about dental implants, just ask Dr. Paige Woods. Dr. Woods is a highly recognized San Diego dentist  dentist with deep experience in Implant Dentistry. Having personally restored thousands of implants, she has the experience, skill and artistic eye to restore your smile to full health and beauty.

In this part of our website you will find answers to some of the questions Dr. Woods hears most from her patients about dental implants. You can also call our office to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Woods at any time.

Why do I Need a Dental Implant?

A Dental Implant is used to replace a missing tooth. Whether you've already lost one or more teeth or have just been told that a tooth needs to be removed, the impact can be devastating.

No one likes the idea that their smile will be incomplete, and we all rely on every one of our teeth for eating, speaking and smiling with ease. In years past, the only solutions for tooth loss were bridges or dentures: artificial teeth that would anchor to either other teeth in your mouth, or to your gums. Neither of these solutions could actually replace teeth in a way that felt natural, and often they could lead to other problems – additional tooth loss, pain, and deterioration of the bones that define the very structure and character of your face.

Modern dentistry provides a better solution to the problem of tooth loss: dental implants. Whether you receive one, several, or an entire arch of implants, the result will be true replacements for your own teeth that let you eat, smile and speak naturally. When you get them from Dr. Woods, no one will know that they aren't your natural teeth, unless you tell them.

What is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is a permanent, artificial tooth that replaces a tooth that is missing or is used to hold a denture in place. The implant has three parts:

  • A post, made from titanium, that is placed into the jaw bone to simulate a tooth root
  • An abutment or connector, also made from titanium, which is placed on top of the post above the bone
  • A crown, usually made from high-grade ceramic, which is built around the abutment and looks and feels like a natural tooth.

What are the Advantages of Dental Implants?

It's important for both your health and your self-esteem to replace missing teeth. Not only do you lose chewing ability when a tooth is lost, but unreplaced teeth can cause other teeth to be stressed, lost, or crowded and create still more problems. A lost tooth certainly affects your appearance in a negative way, and you may feel self-conscious about smiling or talking.

Single-tooth titanium dental implants became a solution for lost teeth more than 30 years ago, and today's technology makes them better, faster and safer than ever before. While dental bridges or dentures also replace missing teeth, dental implants, correctly placed, are usually a superior replacement. Here are some of the reasons that we recommend dental implants for our clients if they have missing teeth, and meet the criteria for implant surgery.

Dental implants look and feel like natural teeth. Even the best dental bridges and dentures cannot compare to the look and feel of properly done dental implants. If you are looking for the best possible appearance, function and feel, then dental implants are your best solution.

Dental implants are permanently fixed. The dental implant post is inserted surgically into your jaw bone and, once the surgery has healed, the new crown is permanently attached to the post over the abutment. The new tooth will feel and function just like your own natural tooth, and you can expect to eat, brush and speak normally.

In contrast, dentures and many bridges are removable appliances requiring special care. It is not uncommon for them to come loose at inconvenient times, to cause pain or discomfort or to adversely affect your speech and chewing ability.

Dental implants prevent further bone loss. Whenever you lose a tooth, you will find that the bone in the area of loss begins to recede. Over time, the bone around your teeth will begin dissolve away, as it is no longer needed. As you can imagine, this loss of bone can affect more than your mouth. The entire structure of your face can change and become shrunken.

Dental implants reverse this loss. As long as you have enough bone to support the implant post, it can be surgically inserted into the bone. Over the space of the next few months, the post will bond to the bone, effectively becoming a part of your body's structure. The placement of the implant will stimulate the body to actually construct the bone cells necessary to bond to the implant. The result, if the implant is properly placed and your body responds as expected, is bone that is stronger and healthier than ever.

Dental implants allow you to preserve your remaining teeth. If you are missing only a single tooth or several, but still have remaining healthy teeth, a dental implant can replace the missing teeth without affecting the healthy teeth that remain. A dental bridge uses the teeth next to the empty space as anchors, and of necessity requires your dentist to cut down the healthy tooth and place a crown over it. A full or partial denture might similarly require your dentist to cut down or even remove adjacent teeth.

Some dentists will recommend a bridge or denture even if it means compromising otherwise healthy teeth, perhaps because fitting the bridge or denture is an easier procedure for them, or because that is what they were taught to do in dental school.

Of course, if a denture or bridge is truly the best solution for a client, then I will find the least destructive possible way to install the bridge or denture. I find, however, that this is rarely the best solution for a patient. A healthy, beautiful smile is much more likely to result from the careful and artful placement of perfectly-crafted implants.

Call Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you are considering dental implants, call us today to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Woods. Let Dr. Woods examine your mouth, and determine if you are a candidate for implant surgery.

Example: Single Tooth Implant. This patient had lost her front tooth due to an accident and needed an immediate replacement.