Dental implants are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth which look, feel and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved.
What are Dental Implants?
The implants themselves are titanium posts, which are inserted into the bone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors act as tooth root substitutes. They are surgically placed into the bone. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Small posts are then attached to the implant, which protrude through the gums. These posts provide stable anchors for tooth replacement.
Implants also help preserve facial structure, preventing bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing. They often eliminate the need for removable appliances, or make removable appliances more stable. Implants often are utilized to minimize cutting down teeth to make a bridge splinted to adjacent teeth.
The Surgical Procedure
For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures. First, implants are placed within your jaw and allowed to heal 2-4 months to allow the implants to fuse to the bone. You should be able to wear a temporary tooth replacement and eat a soft diet during this time.
After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. Our doctors will check in the stability of the implant and work in conjunction with your dentist to have replacement teeth made. The entire procedure usually takes 4-6 months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, in some cases we are able to place implants immediately after extraction of the teeth involved. This helps minimize the number of surgical procedures and time it takes to have your final tooth replacement.
Who actually performs the implant placement?
Implants are a team effort between an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and a Restorative Dentist. Our doctors perform the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions and bone grafting if necessary. The restorative dentist (your dentist) fits and makes the permanent prosthesis. Your dentist will also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process.
What types of prostheses are available?
A single crown is used to replace one missing tooth each prosthetic tooth attaches to its own implant. A fixed bridge can replace two or more teeth and may require only two or three implants. The number of implants varies depending upon which type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended. A removable prosthesis (over denture) is secured and stabilized by the implants, but is still removable for cleaning, whereas a fixedcrowns or denturesis permanent and removed only by the dentist.
Are you a candidate for implants?
If you are considering implants, your mouth must be examined thoroughly and your medical and dental history reviewed. If you mouth is not ideal for implants, ways of improving outcome, such as bone grafting, may be recommended.
What type of anesthesia is used?
The majority of dental implants and bone grafting can be performed in the office under local anesthesia, with or without general anesthesia.
Do Implants need special care?
Once the implants are in place, they will serve you well for many years if you take care of them and keep your mouth healthy. This means taking the time for good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) and keeping regular appointments with your dentist.