About Dental IMPLANTS
Dental implants are, in many instances, the best treatment option for missing teeth. Implants consist of a titanium "screw" that is surgically inserted into the area of the missing tooth , a porcelain crown that fits on top of it, and an abutment post that connects the two pieces. After surgical insertion of the implant, bone grows around the implant and fuses to it. This process takes 3-4 months and once completed, the implant is completely and solidly integrated into your jaw. A crown is then fitted for your implant.
Implants are often recommended as the best treatment because it preserves bone (without the long roots of a tooth to support, bone just shrinks and disappears), no adjacent teeth are altered (as they always are for bridges and partial dentures), and they feel like natural teeth.
Almost 98% of dental implants will last the life of the patient. This figure makes the choice of an implant versus a bridge the best value. Bridges are placed on natural teeth and are still susceptible to cavities. Implants are stronger than your own natural teeth and will never develop cavities.
What is the process for a dental implant?
The first step is always a consultation. A patient’s medical condition is considered for any potential risks to healing. Inside the mouth, the missing tooth site is evaluated for sufficient bone and esthetics. If a tooth has be missing for a long time, there will be some loss of bone in that area. This may compromise the esthetics of the future crown or necessitate some auxiliary bone grafting procedures. X-rays and cone beam imaging will be taken to ensure optimal placement of the implant.
Implant placement can be done with local anesthesia. This is a straightforward procedure that will take less than an hour. Depending on the location of the tooth and the placement of the implant, a temporary crown may be placed at this same appointment.
After 3 months, the implant should be fully integrated and a permanent crown can be made for the implant.
Dental implants can be used to replace one tooth or an entire mouth full of teeth. A very popular alternative to conventional dentures is a product that many dentists refer to as “All on 4.” An entire arch of teeth are permanently affixed to 4 strategically placed implants (sometimes we like to place 6 for extra stability). This allows you to function and chew with the same forces as natural teeth. The All on 4 design is the healthiest option we have for patients that need replacement of all their teeth. The implants help preserve bone in your jaws and maintain the contours of your face.
Digital dentistry allows us to map out the placement of implants and design of the prosthesis reliably and decreases the number of visits that a patient has to make. At the initial consultation visit, photos and imaging are taken. These are all used by the surgeon, dentist, and lab to design the pieces we need on the day of surgery.
On the day of surgery, extractions are done (if necessary), the jaw is leveled, implants are placed, and a temporary prosthesis is affixed to the implants. The temporary prosthesis is made of acrylic and is light, so it doesn’t interfere with the healing process. After healing and integration, the mouth is measured again and a final prosthesis made of titanium and zirconia is affixed permanently to the implants.
If you are considering implants for your missing teeth, you should get a consultation soon. As time passes, more bone is shrinking. This may necessitate a bone graft and/or diminish the esthetics of your implant.