Attractive, natural-looking teeth help us look and feel our best. They allow us to enjoy the foods we love, and to feel confident when we smile and laugh. People lose their teeth for a variety of reasons, whether it is due to accident, illness or genetics. Whatever the reasons, missing teeth can have a negative impact on your quality of life. Fortunately, dental implants are improving the lives of our patients each day.
Dental implants are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel and function just as your natural teeth would. Attractive, healthy teeth play an important role in our general health and well-being. Strong teeth also enable you to eat your favorite foods, and are essential in maintaining a healthy diet. With dental implants, your smile will appear natural, and all facial contours will be preserved.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are small, titanium posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors act as a substitute for the root of your natural tooth. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for the artificial tooth or teeth. Small posts, called abutments, protrude through the gums and allow the crown to be attached.
In addition to their esthetic appeal, dental implants also help preserve bone and facial structure. Without the natural tooth in the jaw, bone in that area can be resorbed.
Your teeth do not stand alone. They are part of a complex, integrated system. A healthy tooth strengthens the quality of the jawbone and helps prevent bone loss. Missing teeth, on the other hand, can cause the jawbone to shrink, and can result in changes to your facial features. Fortunately, modern dental implants can replace missing teeth, prevent bone resorption, and ensure you have teeth that are strong and look natural. Dental implants are an ideal solution for patients with missing teeth, and have been accepted by dental professionals for over 40 years as a reliable and highly successful method of tooth replacement.
Following a thorough consultation, our patients are ready to have their dental implant placed. During this procedure, your oral surgeon will place the dental implant in your jaw bone. A healing abutment is then attached to the implant, allowing your gums to heal around the implant and leave space for your permanent abutment and crown. Following placement, the implant typically requires three to six months to fully integrate into your jaw bone. Most patients wear a temporary crown during this time. A soft diet is also recommended as the implant heals.
Once the implant has fully integrated into the jawbone, the second phase begins. Your surgeon or dentist will remove the healing abutment and place a custom abutment. These act as anchors for the artificial tooth/teeth. Once the artificial teeth are placed, these posts will not be visible.
From start to finish, the dental implant process typically takes six to eight months. Most patients experience minimal disruption to their daily life.
In some cases, it may be possible to place the dental implant at the same time as the tooth extraction – further minimizing the number of surgical procedures. Advances in dental implant technology have made it possible, in select cases, to extract teeth and place implants with crowns during one visit.
Every patient and situation is unique. For this reason, we ask to see all our patients for an evaluation and treatment planning appointment before their treatment begins.
Involvement of Your Dentist
Dental implants are a team effort between an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. While our doctors perform the tooth extraction, implant surgery, and bone grafting if necessary, your dentist will fit and place the permanent prosthesis. Your dentist will also provide any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process.
What Types of Prosthesis are Available?
A single prosthesis, known as a crown, is used to replace a single missing tooth. Each prosthetic tooth attaches to its own implant. A partial prosthesis, more commonly referred to as a fixed bridge, can replace two or more teeth and may require only two or three implants. A complete dental prosthesis replaces all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. A complete prosthesis may be removable or fixed. A removable prosthesis (overdenture) attaches to a bar or ball-in-socket gaskets, whereas a fixed prosthesis is screwed into the implants, and only removable by your dentist.
The number of implants required varies based on which type of prosthesis is recommended for you.
Am I a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
To evaluate if dental implants are a solution that will work well for you, we encourage you to contact us and set up a no-cost consultation. During this appointment, you will have the opportunity to meet with one of our Implant Treatment Coordinators (ITCs), as well as one of our surgeons. They will evaluate your unique circumstances, create a treatment plan and help you evaluate your options.