At Carolinas Centers for Oral & Facial Surgery, our surgeons use industry-leading precision and skill to position your dental implants quickly and efficiently, so you can leave our office with a beautiful smile that lasts. Whether you have missing or damaged teeth, dental implants are the gold standard in tooth replacement to restore your mouth’s functionality and elevate your quality of life.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants provide a comfortable, long-term solution if you have missing or failing teeth or chronic dental issues. 

Dental implants are advanced artificial tooth roots made up of three parts–the implant, abutment, and crown (i.e., replacement tooth) that serve as a permanent and secure base for prosthetic teeth. 

Dental implants live beneath the gum, while the prosthetic tooth sits on top. Because of this, they look, feel, and function just like natural teeth, which is why they are considered the gold standard for tooth replacement. 

Benefits of Dental Implants

  1. Optimal Performance

    Dental implants behave like real teeth to restore full chewing power and performance.
  2. Long-Lasting Solution

    Since dental implants are biocompatible and integrate with the jawbone, they can last a lifetime with proper care.
  3. Natural Appearance

    Dental implants are designed to match the color of your surrounding teeth and fit perfectly in the gap.
  4. Improved Facial Structure

    Dental implants provide necessary facial and bone support, which helps to prevent bone loss.
  5. Stabilizes Adjacent Teeth

    Dental implants provide stability to prevent gaps from causing adjacent teeth to shift and become crooked.
  6. High Success Rate

    If you are a good candidate for dental implants, there is a high success rate and satisfaction.
  7. Enhanced Speech Capabilities

    Dental implants feel and function like real teeth, allowing you to talk easily and naturally.
  8. Reduces the Risk of Cavities

    Dental implants are not prone to decay, so you do not have to worry about cavities.
  9. Elevated Confidence

    Dental implants restore your smile, contributing to more confidence and a better quality of life.

Denture Replacement with Dental Implants

Dentures and implants are dental prosthetics dentists use to replace missing teeth. Dental implants are ideal if you already have dentures and are considering replacing them with a more permanent alternative. 

Dental implants are also more secure and functional than dentures, which can shift and slide throughout the day, and are more cost-effective in the long run. 

Though dental implants have a higher upfront cost, dentures have to be replaced far more often and may require additional dental treatments, resulting in a lower price tag overall. Dental implants are also more durable and require less maintenance, further contributing to their cost-effectiveness. 

Getting Started with Dental Implants

The first step to restoring your smile with dental implants is scheduling a consultation with the experienced doctors at Carolinas Centers For Oral & facial surgery. 

During your consultation, your doctor will learn more about your goals and medical history, set up a comprehensive dental exam, and build a personalized treatment plan. You may require a bone graft or tooth extraction based on your specific needs. 

Additionally, your doctor will discuss what happens during your dental implant procedure. Generally, the surgery takes anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on how many dental implants you need. Your doctor will discuss local anesthesia, sedation, or general anesthesia to determine which is best for you. 

In preparation for your procedure, your doctor will provide preoperative and postoperative instructions, including whether or not you can eat or drink before the surgery. Ensure you follow these instructions for a smooth surgery and recovery. 

How Are Dental Implants Placed and Restored? 

At Carolinas Centers For Oral & Facial Surgery, our doctors specialize in dental implant placement and restoration. They use industry-leading surgical techniques with high precision and skill to deliver outstanding results. 

The initial dental implant procedure involves making a small incision in the gum to expose the jawbone. Then, your surgeon uses a specially-designed tool to drill a hole into the bone, which creates space for the implant. Next, they gently insert the implant screw into the bone according to your treatment specifications. The gums are then closed, and the healing process begins. 

Once the dental implants have fully fused to the bone (a process referred to as osseointegration), the restoration process can occur, which involves opening the gum again and attaching the abutment. Once your mouth has healed from this minor procedure, your surgeon will secure the prosthetic tooth to the abutment, restoring your smile. 

It’s important to note that dental implant and tooth restoration can take several months, sometimes up to a year, ensuring enough time for healing and the growth of new bone in your jaw. 

Implant Placement – Your surgeon makes a small incision in the gum to expose the jawbone and then drills a hole using a special tool. Next, the dental implant is gently screwed into the jawbone until it is secure. 

Abutment Attachment – Once the dental implant has optimally osseointegrated with the jawbone, your surgeon will reopen the gum to expose the implant and attach the abutment. 

Replacement Teeth – After securing the abutment to the dental implant, your doctor places the replacement tooth onto the abutment. The results are a complete, natural-looking smile you can enjoy for a long time.

Dental Implants Post-Op and Recovery Timeline

To better prepare for your dental implant procedure at Carolinas Centers For Oral & Facial Surgery, here is what you can expect regarding your postoperative and recovery phase. 

  1. Initial Consultation – The first step is an initial consultation and full dental evaluation with your surgeon. They will take images, evaluate your candidacy for dental implants, and build you a personalized treatment plan. 
  2. Oral Development  – If necessary, your surgeon will perform a tooth extraction or bone graft to prepare for successful dental implantation. These preparation surgeries will be a part of your treatment plan, and your doctor will discuss how this affects your overall dental implant timeline. 
  3. Implant Placement – Once your mouth is ready to have dental implants placed, your surgeon will make a small incision in your gum to surgically insert the dental implant into the jawbone. Your surgeon will also add a healing cap during this time.
  4. Osseointegration –​​ Once your doctor places the dental implant, the next 3-6 months involve healing and osseointegration. At this time, you’ll be temporarily placed on a soft foods diet to foster optimal healing.  
  5. Tooth Restoration – After your mouth has fully healed and the dental implant has osseointegrated, your surgeon will make another small incision in the gum, attach the final abutment, and affix your prosthetic tooth to the implant. This phase is the last part of the restoration process. 

There are three main choices for anesthesia

Local Anesthesia

Local anesthesia provides numbness directly where it is administered. It does not affect consciousness, so the patient remains awake while the feelings of discomfort are eliminated. Local anesthesia is commonly used for minor procedures.

Nitrous Oxide

Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a mild sedative that the patient inhales to alleviate feelings of anxiety. It does not cause the patient to lose consciousness. It is often used together with local anesthesia.

IV Sedation

IV sedation is commonly used for moderate to extensive oral or facial surgery procedures. This type of sedation is administered directly into the patient’s vein. Since amnesia (forgetfulness) is a common side effect of the medication, most patients who use IV sedation do not remember their procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions: About Dental Implants

Depending on how quickly your mouth heals, you will be on a soft foods diet for three to six months. This diet fosters optimal healing, as any pressure or excess strain on implants during the healing process can cause them to shift or heal crookedly, which may impact your final results.

For the first 24-48 hours after your dental implant placement, we recommend sticking to liquids or very soft foods, such as water, broth, fruit or vegetable juices, pureed soups, mashed potatoes, smoothies, pudding, applesauce, cottage cheese, or oatmeal.

During the first week after your procedure, your mouth will likely still feel tender and sore as the area continues to heal. At this point, you can add more soft foods to your diet, such as eggs, bananas, avocados, nut butters, yogurt, and cheese (in addition to the foods mentioned above). We still recommend eating and drinking lots of liquids, especially water, to stimulate ideal healing.

In the weeks following your procedure, slowly reintroduce more solid foods into your diet. Remember, to further your body’s healing capabilities, eat a balanced, nutrient-rich diet and focus on getting adequate amounts of protein, ample calcium, and lots of fruits and vegetables.

Similar to other surgeries, dental implant surgery poses some risks, including infection at the implant site, injury or damage to surrounding tissue and structures, nerve damage, and sinus problems.

While it is perfectly normal to be concerned about these risks, most patients do not experience severe or significant side effects following a dental implant procedure at our surgery center.

You can rest assured that our surgeons are highly skilled and know how to achieve outstanding results with dental implant surgery, while mitigating the risks associated with the procedure.

Many factors determine the lifespan of dental implants, such as bone health and oral hygiene post-procedure. Generally, you can expect that your dental implants will last a very long time, though the longevity of dental implants varies from patient to patient. 
Large-scale studies have reported that the long-term survival rates of dental implants are between 93.3% and 98%, indicating that they are an effective and reliable way to replace missing or damaged teeth.

You’re in Good Hands with Our Doctors

If you’re considering getting dental implants, it’s crucial to find an experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Here at the Carolinas Centers for Oral & Facial Surgery, we offer custom implant dentistry services for our patients. We have years of experience placing dental implants and always use the latest technology to deliver extraordinary results. Contact one of our many locations to get started today!