Dental implants are devices used to replace missing teeth. The implant itself refers to the titanium component that is placed in the upper or lower jaw to substitute the root of the tooth.
How it is done:
- The implant is inserted surgically into the jawbone. After the implant integrates into the surrounding bone (which may take several months) it should be firm and stable.
- The implant is then uncovered and an impression is taken to create the crown that sits on top of the implant.
- Once the crown is made and inserted, the implant is complete.
Dental implants are usually an alternative to fixed bridges or removable partial dentures. When a single tooth is missing and the adjacent teeth are sound, the implant prevents the need for cutting down the adjacent teeth to place a fixed bridge.
FAQs about Dental Implants
What are dental implants and what can they do for me?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge in place. While high-tech in nature, dental implants are actually more tooth-saving than traditional bridgework, since implants do not rely on neighboring teeth for support. Dental implants are so natural-looking and feeling, you may forget you ever lost a tooth.
Advantages of dental implants over dentures or bridges:
Every way you look at it, dental implants are a better solution to the problem of missing teeth.
- Aesthetic - Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. Since dental implants integrate into the structure of your bone, they prevent the bone loss and gum recession that often accompany bridgework and dentures. No one will ever know that you have a replacement tooth.
- Tooth-saving - Dental implants do not sacrifice the quality of your adjacent teeth like a bridge does because neighboring teeth are not altered to support the implant. More of your own teeth are left untouched, a significant long-term benefit to your oral health!
- Confidence - Dental implants will allow you to once again speak and eat with comfort and confidence. They are secure and offer freedom from the irksome clicks and wobbles of dentures. They’ll allow you to say goodbye to worries about misplaced dentures and messy pastes and glues.
- Reliable - The success rate of dental implants is highly predictable. They are considered an excellent option for tooth replacement.
Am I a candidate for dental implants?
The ideal candidate for a dental implant is in good general and oral health. Adequate bone in your jaw is needed to support the implant, and the best candidates have healthy gum tissues that are free of periodontal disease. Dental
implants are intimately connected with the gum tissues and underlying bone in the mouth. Since periodontists are the dental experts who specialize in precisely these areas, they are ideal members of your dental implant team. Not only do periodontists have experience working with other dental professionals, they also have the special knowledge, training and facilities that you need to have teeth that look and feel just like your own. Your doctor and our physician will work together to make your dreams come true.
What is treatment like?
Restoring a tooth using dental implants takes coordination between specialists: Oral or Periodontal Surgeons, Restorative Dentist and Laboratory Technician.
- Oral or Periodontal Surgeon - Evaluates the patient to see if implants are the best option. They evaluate the health of the patient and the amount and quality of bone.
- Restorative Dentist (prosthodontist) - After the implants are placed, the prosthodontists job is to restore the teeth above the implant.
- Laboratory Technician - Actually fabricates the restoration above the implant.
Your doctor and our periodontal surgeon will sit down and consult on the case. Initial impressions and occlusal records will be taken. These will be sent to the lab to duplicate the final desired work on these models. The lab will duplicate this model in plaster and make an implant stent. The implant stent is the guide for the surgeon to optimally position the implant fixtures. Our physician will place the implant fixtures as close as possible to the optimal positions (using the stent fabricated by the prosthodontist) depending on the available bone at the implant site. Implant healing usually averages 3-6 months. When the implant is integrated, our office completes it. In working as a team with the lab technician these restorations can feel as comfortable as a patients original tooth.
Our extensive knowledge of implants makes us able to inform a patient what types of restorations above the implant is wise.
Types of restorations:
- Cementable porcelain crown and bridge over custom abutments
- Direct screw retained porcelain crown and bridge
- Hybrid denture fixed removable restorations
How will the implants be placed?
First, implants, which look like screws or cylinders, are placed into your jaw. Over the next two to six months, the implants and the bone are allowed to bond together to form anchors. During this time, a temporary teeth replacement option can be worn over the implant sites. Often, a second step of the procedure is necessary to uncover the implants and attach extensions. These small metal posts, called abutments, complete the foundation on which your new teeth will be placed. Your gums will be allowed to heal for a couple of weeks following this procedure. There are some implant systems that do not require this second step. These systems use an implant, which already had the extension piece attached. Our physician will advise you on which system is best for you. Finally, replacement teeth, or bridges, will be created for you by your doctor and attached to the abutments. After a short time you will experience restored confidence in your smile and your ability to chew and speak.
What can I expect after treatment?
As you know, your own teeth require conscientious at-home oral care and regular dental visits. Dental implants are like your own teeth and will require the same care. In order to keep your implant clean and plaque-free, brushing and flossing still apply! After treatment, our physician will work closely with you and your doctor to develop the best care plan for you. Periodic follow-up visits will be scheduled to monitor your implant, teeth and gums to make sure they are healthy.
What are the advantages of implant-supported bridges over fixed bridges or removable partial dentures?
Dental implants provide several advantages over other teeth replacement options. In addition to looking and functioning like natural teeth, implant-supported bridges replace teeth without support from adjacent natural teeth. Other common treatments for the loss of several teeth, such as fixed bridges or removable partial dentures, are dependent on support from adjacent teeth. In addition, because implant-supported bridges will replace some of your tooth roots, your bone is better preserved. With a fixed bridge or removable partial denture, the bone that previously surrounded the tooth root may begin to resorb (deteriorate). Dental implants integrate with your jawbone helping to keep the bone healthy and intact.
In the long term, implants are aesthetic, functional and comfortable. Gums and bone can recede around a fixed bridge or removable partial denture, leaving a visible defect. Resorbed bone beneath bridges or removable partial dentures can lead to a collapsed, unattractive smile. The cement holding bridges in place can wash out, allowing bacteria to decay teeth that anchor the bridge. In addition, removable partial dentures can move around in the mouth and reduce your ability to eat certain foods.
What are the advantages of a single-tooth implant over a bridge?
A dental implant provides several advantages over other tooth replacement options. In addition to looking and functioning like a natural tooth, a dental implant replaces a single tooth without sacrificing the health of neighboring teeth. The other common treatment for the loss of a single tooth, a tooth-supported fixed bridge, requires that adjacent teeth be ground down to support the bridge. Because a dental implant will replace your tooth root, the bone is better preserved. With a bridge, some of the bone that previously surrounded the tooth begins to resorb (deteriorate). Dental implants integrate with your jawbone, helping to keep the bone healthy and intact. In the long term, a single implant can be more aesthetic and easier to keep clean than a bridge. Gums can recede around a bridge, leaving a visible defect when the metal base or collar of the bridge becomes exposed. Resorbed bone beneath the bridge can lead to an unattractive smile. And, the cement holding the bridge in place can wash out, allowing bacteria to decay the teeth that anchor the bridge.
What are the advantages of implant-supported full bridges and implant-supported dentures over conventional dentures?
Dental implants provide several advantages over other teeth replacement options. In addition to looking and functioning like natural teeth, implant-supported full bridges or dentures are designed to be long lasting. Implant-supported full bridges and dentures also are more comfortable and stable than conventional dentures, allowing you to retain a more natural biting and chewing capacity. In addition, because implant-supported full bridges and dentures will replace some of your tooth roots, your bone is better preserved. With conventional dentures, the bone that previously surrounded the tooth roots begins to resorb (deteriorate). Dental implants integrate with your jawbone, helping to keep the bone healthy and intact. In the long term, implants can be more aesthetic and easier to maintain than conventional dentures. The loss of bone that accompanies conventional dentures leads to recession of the jawbone and a collapsed, unattractive smile. Conventional dentures make it difficult to eat certain foods.