implants have revolutionized the field of Dentistry and changed the lives of
many people. By providing a foundation for replacement teeth, bridges, or
dentures, they can help you to look and feel just as you did prior to losing any
of your natural teeth. Dental implants can make it possible for you to eat your
favorite foods again and smile with confidence.
Are you a candidate for Dental Implants?
Almost any person who is
missing one or more teeth is a candidate for dental implants. Whether you have
lost teeth in an accident, had one or more teeth extracted, or were born without
all of your teeth (congenitally missing teeth), it is likely dental implants can
be used to replace those teeth.
What are Dental Implants?
The easiest way to describe a
dental implant is to compare it to a natural tooth. Natural teeth have two
parts, a crown and a root. The crown is the visible part of the tooth that you
use when chewing. Under the gums and attached to the jawbone is the root, which
supports the crown. Simply put, a dental implant replaces the root of a tooth.
The most common type of dental implants in use today are endosteal (in the bone)
or root-form implants. These implants, which are made out of titanium, are
fitted into small "sockets" created in your jaw, thus replacing the root of your
natural tooth. Once in place, the surrounding bone bonds tightly to the implant
surface. This healing process, known as osseointegration, can take several
months and depends, in part, upon the quantity and quality of your remaining
jawbone. After this healing phase, your dentist can now attach your new crown,
or if multiple implants have been placed, your new bridge or dentures.
considerations are your general health and the amount and quality of jawbone
within which implants can be placed. Generally speaking, the ideal implant
candidate is either in good health or has systemic illnesses or conditions that
are well controlled. At the time of your consultation we will review your
medical history with you, and if necessary, consult with your physician
regarding your treatment. Additionally, there must be an adequate amount of high
quality bone in the area where implants are to be placed. After natural teeth
are lost, the surrounding bone begins to disappear. Over a period of time, this
process, known as resorption, can limit the amount of bone available for implant
placement. If this process is severe, bone may need to be added to your jaw by a
procedure called bone grafting.
How are Dental Implants placed?
In most cases, dental
implants involve two minor surgical procedures performed in the office. This is
known as a two-stage approach. During the first visit, an incision is made
through the gum and the implant is placed into a site prepared in the bone.
Sutures are then placed to close the gum tissue so that the implant is not
visible. After a healing period that ranges from three to six months, the
implant is then "uncovered" and a healing abutment or temporary crown
is connected to the implant. You are often able to wear your existing denture,
or a temporary tooth or bridge, while the implant is healing.
Under certain circumstances a
single-stage approach can be used. This technique involves placing the implant
and healing abutment simultaneously, so that it is visible in your mouth
immediately following the procedure. This approach eliminates the need for the
second surgical visit.
The approach that is best for
you will be discussed at the time of your consultation. Regardless of which
approach is used, once the implant and gum tissue surrounding the healing
abutment is healed, your restorative dentist will fabricate and attach your
final crown or bridge for you.