Repairing Your Teeth: The Dental Implant

Five years ago I was faced with the daunting task of finding a Beverly Hills dentist near where I lived to figure out how much money my teeth would cost me to repair after about ten to fifteen years of neglect. I had been a smoker, and didn’t floss. I had helped my own Mother spend about 10k on her mouth about five years before she died – and I decided that if I accomplish this task some twenty five years earlier – in my fifties – I would have at least that much longer to enjoy the results of the money I will have spent on my dental restoration.

Around this same time I received a marketing call from a Los Angeles dentist who promised free teeth bleaching and whitening if I came in for a consultation. A perfect solution, as I knew that having quit smoking, this might just be the trick to make my teeth look better and keep cigarettes out of my mouth in the future. I took the plunge and went in to one of the offices owned by Los Angeles-based Dr. Bijan Afar, an oral surgeon. I also looked him up on the Internet using the words, “cosmetic dentist los angeles.”

My teeth required deep cleaning which could only be done one half of the mouth at a time, and would also require irrigation with antibiotics afterwards to help my gums heal. I learned that I would require an implant to replace a decaying baby tooth, which had never come out. Several molars would require crowns, as would my three front teeth. I had dental crowns on my two front teeth since an accident in high school, and since dental veneers were new back then, I had one put over a crack in an eye tooth in my late twenties. And thanks to years of chewing, my chompers were not as straight as in my youth.

The first step in my treatment plan was to put crowns on three of my molars. Sometimes referred to as caps, this procedure covers teeth that have been severely damaged, decayed, chipped, discolored or misaligned. The procedure required two visits per crown.

Just about as I was ready to have the front teeth done, I got a tooth infection in that baby molar and it had to go. Prior to the tooth being pulled, Dr. Afar gave me antibiotics, and the extraction went smoothly. He packed my tooth and sent me home with a prescription for pain killer to soothe the pain that night, as well as his cell phone number in case I needed to talk to him.

An expert in dental implants in Los Angeles, Dr. Afar then planted the post deep into my jaw bone, first grafting some synthetic bone powder onto the bone to build up lacking bone tissue. This would eventually serve as the foundation for the screw in implant tooth. Healing time? Three months. Depending on the patient, dental implants can take anywhere from several months to a year or more.

As an oral surgeon, Dr. Afar carefully explained the procedure. The height and width of your jawbones are measured to make sure there’s enough bone to hold the implant. Next the gums are examined for signs of periodontal gum disease, and in cases where this is present they must be treated first before implants can be placed. Gums are also checked to make sure there’s enough firm tissue to surround the implant. Imaging tests are also part of the dental evaluation, making it possible to learn more abut the quantity and quality of bone in the mouth, and to view parts of the mouth and head that cannot be seen during an examination.

Dr Afar explained possible risks and complications including a bleeding gum, infection, and failure of the implant where the jawbone doesn’t fuse to the implant, and possible injury to the adjacent teeth or sinus, nerves or muscles. He explained the importance of good hygiene during the entire implant process.

The next step was to fit what’s called the prosthesis, or the new tooth. Depending on how many teeth are missing, you may have a single, partial or complete prosthesis. I just needed a single, while a partial is used as an alternative to a bridge. There is also a complete denture prosthesis, used as an alternative to a traditional complete denture – and these come as either removable or fixed complete prosthesis.

Next Dr. Afar placed the healing abutment, one of two kinds that are used. Healing abutments also known as healing cuffs, help the gum tissue from the removed tooth heal around the implant site. Once the gum has healed, the final abutment is placed so that the prosthesis can be joined with the implant. It took about 4 to 6 weeks for the gums to heal around the abutments.

Once the gums have healed around the abutments, Dr Afar began making the custom prosthesis, requiring several office visits. When ready, he fit my fixed prosthesis, made adjustments, and told me not to eat crunchy or hard foods for several weeks.

Today I am very happy with the comfort of the new teeth in my mouth including the crowns and my dental implant. I have since had my front upper eye tooth crowned, and my teeth whitened. I now have a full set of beautiful whiter teeth. The only thing remaining is the crowns of my two front teeth – which I hope to have by Christmas of this year.