Implant Site Preparation
The gum tissue is opened to expose the bone area where the implant will be placed. In situations where there is insufficient bone structure, bone grafting may be a recommended procedure. Once healthy bone has been established, a special drill is used to prepare the bone to receive the implant.
REASONS FOR DENTAL IMPLANTS
- Replace a missing tooth
- Maintain healthy bone levels
- Help support overdentures
- Keep the look and feel of a real tooth where one is missing
WHAT DOES A DENTAL IMPLANT INVOLVE?
Placing the Implant
After the bone has been prepared, the implant is placed and the tissue is sutured. After seven to ten days, the sutures are removed. The healing process takes three to six months. This is the amount of time it usually takes the implant to become part of the bone of the jaw.
Attaching the Post
When the gum tissue is ready, a special post is attached to the implant; it is the support for the new porcelain crown. Today's technologies often include zirconium abutments attached to the implant post, to assure that the new porcelain tooth possesses translucency properties similar to a natural tooth.
Placing the Crown
After impressions are taken a crown is made and shaded to match your existing teeth. The crown fused to the custom post/abutment is then screwed into the implant body. This final prosthetic crown appears as a natural tooth.
Missing One Tooth
When you have one tooth missing, a single implant is inserted into the bone to replace the root part of that tooth; a crown then goes on top to simulate an actual tooth. This treatment choice has the highest success rate, making it the best long-term investment for replacing a single missing tooth. Even if the initial cost is slightly higher than other options, it is the most cost-effective solution over time. An implant will never decay or need root canal treatment, and feels just like the tooth that was there.
When you have more than one tooth missing, implants provide an ideal replacement mechanism. For example, if you are missing three teeth in a row, a 3-unit fixed bridge can be created. This consists of two implants, one on either side of the gap, and a crown in between that has no implant underneath. That way, you won't need to use any of your remaining natural teeth as bridge supports, which could weaken them and make them more susceptible to decay.
Missing All of Your Teeth
Implant-Supported Fixed Bridgework
If you have lost teeth, replacing them with dental implants sooner rather than later is highly advisable. Replacing your teeth will enable you to eat the foods you love, speak with ease, and smile with confidence. Here is another important consideration: If you don't replace your teeth, you will start to lose bone in your jaw. Why? Bone is a living tissue that needs constant stimulation to maintain its volume and density. That stimulation normally comes from the teeth; when they are lost, the bone that used to surround and support them starts to break down.
Wearing removable dentures will accelerate this process. The longer you go without teeth, the greater the bone loss. If you have lost all of your natural teeth but have not yet experienced significant bone loss, you have a terrific option for full arch, permanent tooth replacement: implant-supported fixed bridgework.
Implant-supported fixed bridgework is a lifelike upper and/or lower arch of false teeth that is virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth. It stays in your mouth all the time, unlike removable dentures. It is securely and comfortably anchored by several dental implants that become an integral part of your jawbone once inserted during a minor surgical procedure done in the dental office.
Implant-Supported Fixed Dentures
Implants can anchor a removable full denture to keep it from slipping or, better yet, an entire arch of upper or lower replacement teeth that are fixed into the mouth and are never removed. These teeth can take the form of fixed bridgework, which is a full set of replacement dental crowns; or a fixed denture, which contains crowns as well as realistic-looking prosthetic (replacement) gum tissue. Sometimes a new arch of teeth can be supported by as few as 4 implants. It's comparable to the structure of a table, which only needs 4 legs to hold it up. In cases where jawbone density and volume have deteriorated, 5 or 6 implants might be needed to support a row of 10 to 12 teeth. Dental implant replacement teeth protect your jawbone, won't slip, and should last a lifetime.
Implant-Supported Removable Dentures
Many individuals who have no teeth in one or both jaws find removable dentures an economical way to restore their smiles. Yet dentures are not always so easy to wear. Sometimes they slip when you try to eat or speak. It happens more often with a lower denture, which can easily become dislodged by the tongue — a more powerful muscle than you might think. A loose denture can make you feel self-conscious, and prevent you from eating a nutritious diet. Removable dentures will also cause bone loss in the jaw over time by pressing down on the bony ridges that formerly supported the teeth. Fortunately, there's a simple way to prevent all of these problems: supporting your removable dentures with dental implants.
You may have heard about dental implants acting as lifelike replacements for individual missing teeth, and that's certainly of great benefit to those who still have many of their natural teeth. But when you have no teeth left in one or both jaws, putting in a dental implant for every tooth is not economically feasible, nor is it necessarily desirable. An excellent solution is simply to place as few as two dental implants in the lower jaw to support a removable denture so that it does not come loose when worn. An implant-supported removable denture can — and should — still be taken out for cleaning and maintenance.
How It Works
Dental implants are small titanium posts that serve the same purpose as the roots of natural teeth: They anchor replacement teeth to your jawbone. Like natural tooth roots, they lie beneath the gum line and are therefore not visible in the mouth. Because titanium has the unique ability to fuse to living bone, your dental implants actually become a part of your jawbone and help to preserve its volume and density — an important consideration for your health and appearance. When a denture is secured by implants, it does not press down on your bone tissue in a destructive way, and it will remain in position as you eat, speak and smile. This has a very positive impact on quality of life.
It usually takes only two implants to support a lower denture, though every individual is unique and we will have to examine you to determine what would work best in your case. Retaining an upper denture requires a greater number of implants, usually a minimum of four, because of anatomical differences between the upper and lower jaws. If you already wear a denture, we may be able to modify it to become an implant-supported denture. Or we will have a new one made for you.
What to Expect
Dental implant surgery is a simple, routine procedure carried out in the dental office under local anesthesia in most cases. After numbing the area, an appropriate number of implants will be placed in your jaw at precisely planned angles and positions to maximize support and avoid anatomical structures such as nerves and sinuses. Depending on how many implants you will need, the surgery can take anywhere from one to three hours. Most people who have dental implants placed find that any post-operative discomfort can be managed with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
After surgery, your implants will need to complete the process of fusing to your jawbone (known as osseointegration), before they can support your denture(s). This takes at least six weeks and is different for everyone. During this healing period you will not be without teeth, however, because you can wear a denture that is modified so that it does not overstress the implants. When healing is complete, we will show you how to hook your denture onto the supporting implants (and take it off again) so you can experience the security of teeth that don't move — and all the benefits that go along with them.
There is a high rate of failure of implants in patients who smoke, so dental implants tend to not be the best option for patients who are actively smoking.
We will help you determine whether dental implants or another more predictable restorative option is best for you.