Dental Implants

Missing Tooth Replacement

With the revolutionary advances that have been made in restorative dentistry over the last few decades, missing teeth can now be replaced with results that are virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth. Dental implants can be excellent options for patients who have a single missing tooth or multiple missing teeth. Our cosmetic dentist, Dr. Uyen Thompson, and her dental team at Thompson Center for Dentistry offer full, comprehensive dental implant procedures that can be performed right here at our practice.

What are Dental Implants?

Composed of a titanium post and a custom dental crown, a dental implant is designed to replace a missing tooth by mimicking a natural tooth. The implant is anchored to the jawbone, where it should ultimately fuse to the bone and become a permanent part of your mouth. Dental implants offer extraordinary stability and can dramatically improve both the look and function of your teeth. In fact dental implants are so similar to actual teeth that it may be challenging to tell them apart from your original teeth.

What are the Benefits of Dental Implants?

Benefits of dental implants include: 

  • Speaking and chewing with comfort and confidence
  • The results are designed to be permanent
  • Tooth stability – implants will not move or slip along the gums
  • Easy to maintain through normal brushing and flossing
  • They are designed to look, act, and feel like natural teeth 

Dental implants can be performed as a stand-alone procedure or be part of a full-mouth rehabilitation from our experienced dentists.

Who is a Candidate for Dental Implants?

Our experienced dentist will thoroughly evaluate your oral structures during the initial consultation and determine whether you are a good candidate for dental implants. If that is not the case, we can talk with you about advanced alternatives (such as implant-supported dentures or traditional dentures) at our practice that can help you address your concerns.

What are my dental implant options?

Whether you are missing a single tooth or a full row of teeth, dental implants can be utilized in a number of circumstances. Options include:


Single Tooth Implants

A dental implant can be used to replace a single missing tooth anywhere in the mouth. This can be particularly beneficial for the prevention of bone loss in the area of the lost tooth, which can ultimately have an effect on overall oral health.


Multiple Teeth Dental Implants

Patients who have several missing teeth and those who are missing all of their teeth on the upper and/or lower arches can often replace them with dental implants. This procedure can dramatically improve oral function, smile aesthetics, and the ability to speak and chew. Multiple teeth dental implants offer a strong, stable, and natural-looking solution that can enhance one’s appearance and livelihood.


Implant-Supported Dentures

Implant-supported dentures can be an excellent alternative for patients who may not be candidates for full sets of dental implants. This option typically utilizes just a few strategically placed implants to provide a stable foundation for denture appliances. Implant-supported dentures can significantly reduce the potential for dentures to slip along the gums, and they eliminate the need for denture pastes and adhesives.

Learn more about implant-supported dentures.


Surgically Guided Implants - 3D Cone Beam Technology

The planning stages of dental implant procedures are important components of the treatment. That’s why we utilize 3D Cone Beam CT scanning technology and merge the data with an advanced iTero® digital scan to create an intricate surgical guide for the placement of dental implants. This system allows our dentist to obtain a 360-degree view of your entire mouth, including the teeth, gums, and jaw area. Once the comprehensive scan of your oral structures has been produced, we use 3-Dimensional implant planning software to create a detailed plan that pinpoints the precise angle and location the implant should be placed. The entire implant planning process is done digitally, and a surgical guide is printed out through our 3d printer. With this guide, our dentist can take the “guesswork” out of the process and plan the placement of the implant with a greater degree of accuracy.

Cone Beam Machine


How is the Dental Implant Procedure Performed?

After the x-ray images have been taken and the surgical guide has been created, our dentist will place the dental implant in the area of the missing tooth. The implant itself is a durable titanium post that will be inserted inside the gum and anchored to the jawbone. Over the next few months, the implant should fuse to the bone. A temporary crown can be affixed to the post during this period. Once the fusion process is complete, our dentist will have a custom-designed dental crown ready to place on top of it. The crown will be secured to the post with a strong cement, and it will be color-tinted and polished so that it provides a virtually seamless blend with surrounding teeth. The results will look and feel so natural that it may be a challenge to tell the implant tooth apart from your natural teeth!

How Long Do Dental Implants Last?

The potential length of results for dental implants is one of the most prominent benefits of the treatment. Since they are designed to become a permanent part of your mouth, dental implants can last a lifetime with the proper care. As long as dental implants are placed by experienced and extensively trained dental professionals, in addition to good at-home dental hygiene routines and regular check-ups, dental implants can keep your smile looking beautiful for many years to come!

What Types of Dental Implants are Available?

While all dental implants essentially serve the same purpose, some aspects of dental implants make them distinct from one another. The primary type of implant we use here at Thompson Center for Dentistry is called an endosteal dental implant, which is placed directly into the jawbone. Endosteal dental implants come in different sizes and heights. The best size and height for your particular needs will be determined once your oral structures have been examined and x-rays have been taken. These attributes are important in terms of correctly positioning the implant and anchoring it to the jawbone in such a way that the implant fits the area as naturally as possible. 

Our dentist will explain all aspects of dental implants during your initial consultation and decide the best type of implant for your unique needs.

Are Dental Implants Safe?

Since these treatments involve oral surgery, it is important to note that all surgical procedures involve certain risk factors. With this in mind, Dr. Thompson utilizes state-of-the-art planning technology and takes extensive precautions during treatment to maximize the safety of dental implant procedures. These precautions include measures to limit the possibility of implant failure, infection, or other potential complications, however rare they may be. Dr. Thompson will also provide you with precise post-operative instructions that can help to ensure a safe recovery and successful, long-lasting results.

Are There Alternatives to Dental Implants?

In cases where an individual is not the best candidate for dental implants, or in situations where one would simply like to explore other missing teeth replacement options, there are many advanced alternatives that can provide effective solutions. Our practice offers a full range of restorative treatments that may be ideal procedures for the right patient. Options include implant dentures, All-On-4® Teeth in a Day, complete and partial dentures, and dental bridges

With our comprehensive selection of procedures designed to replace missing teeth, Dr. Thompson and her team can help you find the best option for your needs and goals.

How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?

The total price of dental implants varies from patient to patient, depending on each individual’s unique treatment plan. A number of factors go into the overall cost of dental implant procedures, including the number of implants being placed, the complexity of the treatment, the experience of the dentist, the geographic location of the practice, materials used, and other components. The dental professionals at Thompson Center for Dentistry believe that everyone deserves to have the highest-quality care, regardless of their financial situation. That is why we accept a broad range of payment methods and work with reputable dental financing companies like CareCredit® and LendingClub®, which offer low- and no-interest payment plans to qualified applicants who would like to pay for their dental implant procedure over time. Once your customized treatment plan has been developed, a member of our team will produce an estimate of the total cost and talk with you about your options.

How Do I Choose the Right Implant Dentist?

The first step in the process of obtaining dental implants is arguably the most important one: choosing your implant dentist. Replacing missing teeth with dental implants requires extraordinary precision and accuracy in order to provide long-lasting results that look, function, and feel as natural as possible. With this in mind, the dentist you choose should have impeccable credentials and extensive training and experience with this procedure. As you are conducting your research into prospective dentists, be sure to scrutinize their biography to learn about their history with dental implantation. Is the dentist a member of any organizations that focus on implant dentistry? Does the dentist’s educational history include any special training in oral implantology? If not, does the dentist employ an oral surgeon or prosthodontist at the practice? Or do they refer dental implant patients to another practice for implantation? Some of these questions may be available on the practice’s website; however, even if this is the case, it’s important to schedule an in-person consultation with the dentist you are considering. Having a conversation with the dentist can help you get a fuller understanding of their experience and how confident you feel in their care. 

Dr. Uyen Thompson offers comprehensive dental implant treatment right here at Thompson Center for Dentistry. She earned her fellowship from the International Congress of Oral Implantologists and she earned a Master of Implantology at the California Implant Institute. Dr. Thompson will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about her educational background and experience with this procedure, and she will thoroughly explain the treatment process and how dental implants may benefit your needs.

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Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Implants

Are dental implants covered by insurance?

Some dental insurance policies may offer at least partial coverage for dental implant procedures. A member of our team here at Thompson Center for Dentistry can help with questions about insurance coverage for this treatment.

Do dental implants look natural?

The ability of dental implants to look, feel, and function like natural teeth is one of the many benefits of this popular treatment. In fact, many patients find the results to be virtually identical to natural teeth.

How do I clean dental implants?

Cleaning dental implants involves the same basic process used to clean natural teeth. Aside from daily brushing and flossing, as well as attending the recommended amount of dental visits each year, there is no extra maintenance required.

How long does it take to get dental implants?

After the dental implants are placed, a process called “osseointegration” will begin. This is the process by which the implants should fuse to the jawbone, effectively becoming a part of the mouth, much like natural tooth roots. Osseointegration typically takes several months before it is complete; however, temporary crowns can  be placed on the implant posts during this time. Once Dr. Thompson has determined that the implants have successfully fused to the bone, she will affix the permanent custom dental crowns to the implant posts. Dr. Thompson will carefully examine the implants and crowns to make sure they fit comfortably, function like natural teeth, and meet your overall expectations.

Does smoking affect dental implants?

Smoking can have a significant effect on dental implants. Not only can smoking dramatically increase the risk of infection, but it can also extend the healing process. Given these risks, along with previous research that has found a possible link between smoking and implant failure, we recommend that patients stop smoking a minimum of one month before the dental implant procedure is scheduled. We also advise that patients develop a plan to ensure they do not resume smoking after the implants are placed.

Do I need to avoid certain foods with dental implants? 

One of the many advantages of dental implants is that most patients will not need to restrict what they eat once the healing process is complete. You should be able to continue eating your favorite foods; however, it is best to take some precautions with certain items. Biting down on hard foods (such as ice, popcorn kernels, candy, fruits or vegetables with solid pits, and others) can increase the risk of damaging the dental implant and the custom crown, so please be careful while eating those types of food. These precautions are necessary for natural teeth as well, so dental implants do not necessarily limit one’s ability to eat specific foods—they just require the same care!

How do dental implants feel? 

After the dental implant procedure is complete and your permanent custom crown has been placed, the results should feel virtually indistinguishable from a natural tooth. Dental implants are designed to function and feel so identical to natural teeth (right down to the root) that it can be difficult to tell them apart from original teeth.

How successful are dental implants? 

The success rate of dental implants is remarkably high as long as the procedure is performed by skilled, experienced professionals who utilize advanced technology for implant placement. Additionally, the success of dental implants is dependent upon patients following all pre- and post-treatment protocols to ensure that the treated areas heal properly. With treatment by a qualified provider, adherence to instructions, avoidance of tobacco, and good oral hygiene maintenance, the chances that dental implants will be successful for years to come are greatly increased.

Do dental implants hurt? 

The dental implant procedure can be performed utilizing either a strong local anesthetic or other sedation dentistry options to minimize the potential for discomfort. Most individuals describe dental implant procedures as producing pressure sensations, rather than pain. Depending on the type of anesthesia utilized, some patients may experience a treatment that is quite relaxing and virtually anxiety-free.

Following the dental implant procedure, some degree of soreness in the treatment areas can be expected. This should dissipate in the coming days as the areas heal. Over-the-counter pain medication is often all that is necessary to relieve discomfort during this time.

When is it too late to get dental implants? 

Generally speaking, it is almost never too late for most individuals to get dental implants. Age is not usually a determining factor when it comes to evaluating candidacy for these procedures. In fact, one of the most important factors is whether the patient’s jawbone density is sufficient to securely accommodate a dental implant. Even in cases where jawbone density is lacking, a bone grafting procedure can often be performed to address that concern and adequately prepare the bone for a dental implant. Advances in the field of implant dentistry have made it possible for many patients—even some who have been previously told they are not candidates—to be successfully treated with dental implants. Dr. Thompson can evaluate your needs and determine whether this treatment offers a viable solution.

Are dental implants permanent?

Dental implants can serve as permanent missing teeth replacement solutions as long as proper care for them is maintained. The treatment is intended to provide results that last a lifetime, offering patients enhanced smile aesthetics and improved dental function long into the future. 

Can dental implants work with a complete or partial denture?

Yes, dental implants can work with partial dentures and complete dentures. Implants can be placed in areas that can help secure the denture and reduce the potential for movement along the gums. In some cases, patients who have already been wearing dentures for a long period of time and are considering the addition of implants for enhanced stability may have weakened jawbone density in certain areas. If jawbone density has been compromised, a bone grafting procedure may be necessary to strengthen the bone and improve its ability to securely accommodate a dental implant. 

What are some of the differences between a dental implant and a dental bridge? 

A dental implant requires oral surgery to anchor the implant to the jawbone. A permanent crown will eventually be securely affixed to the top of the post to create natural-looking tooth replacement. By contrast, a dental bridge does not require surgery. Dental bridges are designed to “bridge the gap” that has been left by one or more teeth in the same area of the mouth. Custom-designed artificial teeth are placed in the area of missing teeth, and two custom crowns are placed on the natural teeth that surround them. This helps reinforce and secure the bridge, allowing for results that look and feel like natural teeth. In some cases, dental implants may be recommended to provide even greater support, ultimately producing an “implant bridge.” 

Both dental implants and dental bridges can be effective treatments for missing teeth replacement. Our dentist can evaluate your needs and goals and help you determine the solution that’s best for you. 

Why do some dental implants fail?

Dental implant failure is not a common occurrence; however, it is not impossible for dental implants to fail in some cases. This can be caused by an infection that develops after the implant has fused to the jawbone, or another complication that stops the implant post’s full integration with the bone. Periodontal disease, smoking, poor oral hygiene, and inadequate bone density can create these kinds of complications. The risk of implant failure is very low as long as patients choose experienced dental implant providers who utilize advanced planning and placement techniques to complete the procedure, combined with strict adherence to pre- and post-treatment instructions designed to ensure the long-term success of the implants.

If you are considering your options to replace missing teeth, we encourage you to contact Thompson Center for Dentistry. A member of our team can address any concerns you may have or assist you with scheduling a consultation at our practice.