About Dental Implants

It is easy to misunderstand what a dental implant is, what it does, when you need to get them, and why. The thing people most often think of when they imagine dental implants is braces and tooth fillings. Maybe they know what a root canal is if they are really lucky (or unlucky, as it were). But given how much they cost and how invasive the procedures can feel, what do you need to know about dental implants?

When Do You Need a Dental Implant?

The first thing you need to know is when you will need a dental implant. This is important to understanding what a dentist is expecting of you and why they might be recommending an implant. The most common implant these days is an implant that goes into the gums and fills in the space left by a missing tooth. This is the kind of implant that you get after having a tooth pulled. Not every tooth requires a dental implant replacement once it goes missing, however.

Willow Springs Dentistry’s belief is that you do not need a dental implant to cover the loss of wisdom teeth, nor do you need one to cover the loss of a children’s tooth. Only adult teeth need to have an implant in their spot. The reason for this is that in the case of wisdom teeth and children’s teeth, those are teeth that are somewhat designed to fall out. Wisdom teeth are an evolution in the human body that accounts for the likelihood that one or more of an individual human’s teeth will fall out over their lifetime. The wisdom teeth will literally push the other teeth to cover the missing tooth, an extremely painful and lengthy process.

Even more painful and lengthy is when there are no missing teeth for the wisdom teeth to replace. This is why wisdom teeth so often get removed, as then the wisdom teeth crowd the mouth unnecessarily. This means that since dentistry is so commonplace now, and teeth falling out is much rarer, you will usually have your wisdom teeth removed without having them replaced with implants. And then of course, children’s teeth do not need implants because the mouth grows new teeth to replace them anyway.

A dental implant is required when a tooth is removed and there is no replacement for it. Remember how wisdom teeth reorganize the mouth after a tooth falls out? Well, that happens even if there are no wisdom teeth to replace the missing tooth. And just like before, it is an incredibly painful process. If there is an implant in your gums where the top half of that tooth would normally be, however, then the teeth will stay right where they are. So, if you are missing a tooth, an implant will be needed to keep the rest of your teeth in place.

What is a Dental Implant?

Now that you know when you need a dental implant, you are probably curious what the implant actually is, as well as what the process of getting one is. Willow Springs Dentistry’s simple answer to that question is that the implant is a piece of titanium that is inserted into your gums, in the spot where a tooth used to reside. Titanium is one of the few metals that does not rust and is non-magnetic. What that means is that it will not be picked up on an MRI and will not trip a metal detector. It is metal, but it is safe in every way a metal can be safe, as it will not move in your mouth due to magnetism, and it will not ever rust.

More importantly, it will allow your dentist to open up your gums so that you can have a cap attached to that titanium dental implant. A cap on the implant is basically a new, artificial tooth that allows you to use that portion of your mouth for chewing. The process of getting the implant starts with a period of cleaning your mouth using anti-bacterial mouthwash. This will last for three weeks and prepares your mouth’s immune system to keep the implant from getting infected. Once you have the implant you will not need to worry about it getting infected though.

After that process, you need to remove the original tooth and the nerve it is attached to. You will be locally anesthetized during this process, so you will be conscious while still not feel any of it. Once the tooth and nerve are removed, the dentist can insert the implant and sew it into your gums. The sutures will stay around for between one week and a few months. Do not worry, as they are designed to dissolve eventually. Neither the sutures nor the implant represents a viable habitat for bacteria, meaning that as long as you applied the mouthwash leading up to the operation, you should be good to go.

Why Get a Dental Implant?

The reason most people get dental implants from Dr. Marc McRae at Willow Springs Dentistry is that they need them. It usually all comes down to having a tooth removed, but a tooth can be removed for all sorts of reasons. Usually, it is because its cavities have spread so deep, or an abscess has formed inside the tooth that is irritating the nerve underneath it.

This makes the dental implant a secondary function of the tooth removal. It is placed in the gums to cover the damage caused by removing the tooth due to the cavities or the abscess. But just as often, an implant will cover superficial damage as well. If a tooth is chipped too deep, then it cannot be used for biting. At that point it is useless, and it is only a matter of time before the weakness exposed by that chip develops into a full-on break. In short, the sooner it can be removed and replaced, the better.


Dental implants can seem complicated, but once you know the details about them you realize that they are a simple measure to keep your mouth intact. Willow Springs Dentistry is able to customize your dental treatment based on your particular dental needs. Contact Willow Springs today to schedule a consultation and find out how dental implants can help close unsightly gaps in your smile and create a complete, beautiful smile for many years to come.