Lake Katherine in Palos Heights

Frequently Asked Questions

What are dental implants?
Dental implants are actually metallic posts that replace the patient's tooth root or roots. Once the implants are in, replacement teeth can be placed and anchored firmly to the bone by the implant. Replacement choices include fixed bridges with crowns that attach to the implants, removable dentures, or partial dentures that attach to the implants. The patient's new teeth look, feel and work much like natural teeth. There are many types of dental implants suited to various dental conditions.
Where do I have to go to get dental implants?
We select a specialist (usually a periodontist or oral surgeon) depending on the particular needs of the patient. We have years of experience working with a network of specialists to place implants and restore your mouth.
What are the benefits of implants?
Dental implants are an alternative for:
  • The patient who cannot function comfortably with conventional dentures or partials.
  • The patient who has lost teeth and wants to avoid removable partial dentures or wants greater stability than the existing removable dentures or partials.
  • The patient who needs a crown or fixed bridge but doesn't want to damage the adjacent healthy teeth.
  • The person who wants to have the most natural and functional treatment available.
Who is a candidate for dental implants?
Because of recent advances in implant technology, more and more people are implant candidates--although many people may be told they are not. The only way to know for certain is to be evaluated by a dentist who has received training in implant dentistry. Typically, if a patient is healthy enough to undergo fixed bridgework procedures or routine extractions, he or she can also undergo dental implant procedures.
What does the dental implant procedure involve?
Most implants can be placed in one or two office visits. Further visits will also be needed to fit the replacement teeth, which fasten to the implants. Occasionally, some bone structure or gum tissue may have to be added to the patient's jaw. Tested methodologies now exist that can effectively and safely add bone where needed. This process can delay the placement of the implant for a period of months. Most insertions can be performed under the same local anesthesia used for routine fillings. Medication so the patient can sleep during the procedure is available with oral conscious sedation or IV sedation. Temporary teeth are usually placed until permanent replacement teeth are made so that patients can lead normal lives during the interim treatment period.
How long does an implant last?
Implants have remained in patient's mouths for 30 years or longer. If properly cared for with a preventive maintenance program, to help insure the long-term success of your implants and teeth, implants may last a lifetime.
How much does an implant cost as compared to other forms of dentistry?
The cost of implant dentistry is comparable to that of fixed bridgework or other advanced dental procedures in most cases. The long durability of implants, frequently makes implants less expensive in the long term compared to other options.
Do implants require any special care?
Dental implants and accompanying replacement teeth should be cared for in the same way as natural teeth. Although they do not decay, they are still subject to gum disease in the same way natural teeth are.
Is there any chance of rejection of the dental implant?
The body doesn't reject a dental implant as it might a soft tissue implant such as a lung, heart or kidney. Dental implants are made of titanium, which is compatible with the body. Dental implants can fail due to gum infection, excessive stress loads or inadequate support.
How long will I be off work?
Generally we recommend the day of the implant placement and perhaps the day after. Most of our patients are back to work the next day after implant placement. It's an individual decision.
What will happen without treatment?
Along with loss of teeth, you gradually lose the bone that supports the teeth. As the bone shrinks, problems with a lack of support lead to increased discomfort, mobility, lack of retention of dentures, and sharp, painful ridges, movable gums and sore spots. The tongue also enlarges to accommodate the space. With tooth loss, a great decrease in function occurs and the diet shifts to softer foods. When bone is lost, the incidence of numbness to the lower lip or even fracture of the jaw increases. Progressive bone loss may affect our ability to provide the treatment that could have been performed before so much bone loss occurred. More implants or more extensive treatment, may be necessary. At its worst, the bone loss could be so severe that the only way for the person to have teeth of any kind would require a graft of bone from the patient's hip.
Do all patients who want cosmetic makeovers get the same kind of teeth?
Cosmetic treatment is always a matter of personal taste. Each person receives treatment based on their facial structure and skin tones that guide us in making individual selections vary in size, shape, and color for each person.
Do I have to get crowns on my teeth to get rid of spaces between my front teeth?
In many cases, crowns to correct spaces aren't necessary. Beautiful, natural looking porcelain veneers can easily make dramatic cosmetic changes closing spaces, fixing cracked teeth, providing minor tooth straightening, and changing the color of your teeth. In many instances, little or no tooth structure needs to be removed to create the smile of your dreams. Direct bonding, which can be completed in a single appointment can provide an immediate aesthetic improvement at less expense but less durability.
Is "tooth whitening" safe?
Bleaching procedures are safe and approved by the American Dental Association. Bleaching does not wear away any tooth structure or make a tooth more susceptible to staining. We recommend avoiding food that does stain immediately following a bleaching session.
Is gum surgery essential if I have periodontal (gum) disease?
We have found, many times, surgery is not necessary following a conservative course of periodontal treatment. This type of care typically includes a series of non-surgical gum treatments. Even when surgery is required, it often is needed only in a few areas of the mouth and results can be greatly enhanced by non-surgical preparation. Regular cleaning appointments every 3-4 months are necessary to prevent continual progression of gum disease.
If periodontal disease is such a problem, why doesn't it hurt?
Periodontal problems can become very serious and extremely advanced without any pain. That is why it is so important to be attentive to the warning signs--bleeding gums when brushing and flossing, swollen gums, receded gums, teeth changing position, pus or swelling around gums--to name a few. Patients usually do become aware of some or all of these warning signs but fail to act. Dental examination, cleaning, x-rays and periodontal gum evaluation can easily lead to a diagnosis and treatment. Early intervention is extremely important!
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