Dental implants are designed to improve people’s lives by helping them to smile with confidence again. With dental implants, 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, as replacement teeth look, feel, and function like natural teeth.
What are Dental Implants?
The implants themselves are tiny titanium posts which are inserted surgically into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors act as tooth root substitutes. The bone bonds with the titanium creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Small posts, or abutments, are then attached to the implant and protrude through the gums. These posts provide stable anchors for artificial replacement teeth or caps. The presence of the implant in the bone helps preserve bone structure and prevents bone deterioration, or atrophy, which occurs over time in areas where teeth are missing.
Implants help preserve facial structure, preventing bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.
The Surgical Procedures
The placement of dental implants involves one or two surgical procedures, depending which method is best for you.
The single surgical method
This method combines the placement of the implant with the immediate placement of the abutment. This saves a second surgical procedure, and allows the gum line collar to mature longer before placing the final artificial tooth (cap).
The two phase surgical method
In this method, implants are placed under the gum tissue within your jawbone. For the first three to six months following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums, gradually bonding with the jawbone. You should be able to wear temporary dentures and eat a soft diet during this time.
After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. Your doctor will uncover the implants and attach the abutments, which will act as anchors for the artificial teeth and help form a new gum line collar for the future artificial tooth. These posts protrude through the gums and will eventually accept the artificial tooth (cap) when it is made. When the artificial teeth are placed, these posts will not be seen. The entire procedure usually takes six to eight months, but most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life during this time.
Drs. Noble, Morris, Shaikh, Jacobs, or Tomsic will discuss these options with you, and help you determine which plan is best for you.
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, the surgeons of Oral Facial Surgery Institute are able to offer a variety of implant treatments. There are often situations in which implants can be placed at the same time as a tooth extraction, further minimizing the number of surgical procedures, and simplifying the surgical process. Your doctor will discuss whether this procedure, called ‘immediate loading,” could be appropriate for you.
Who actually performs the implant placement?
Typically, implants are a team effort between an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and a Restorative Dentist. Your surgeon at Oral Facial Surgery Institute performs any tooth extractions or bone grafting, if necessary, and the implant surgery. A restorative dentist (your dentist) fits and makes the permanent prosthesis (the artificial tooth or cap). Your dentist will also make any temporary teeth needed during the implant healing process.
What types of prostheses are available?
Single tooth – Replaced with a single crown on a single implant.
Multiple teeth – Replaced with a partial (multiple crowns fused together) on two or more implants.
All teeth – Replaced with a complete denture (multiple crowns fused together) and held in place with multiple implants by various attachment methods.
A complete dental prosthesis (fixed bridge) replaces all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. The number of implants varies based on the type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended. A removable prosthesis (over denture) attaches to a bar or ball in socket attachment, whereas a fixed prosthesis is permanent and removable only by the dentist. Drs. Noble, Morris, Shaikh, Jacobs, and Tomsic perform in-office implant surgery in their operating suites, optimizing the level of sterility, while maintaining patient comfort and affordability. They also practice inpatient hospital implant surgery for patients who have special medical or anesthetic needs or for those who need extensive bone grafting from the jaw, hip, or tibia.
Why dental implants?
When you lose teeth, whether it’s a new situation or something you have lived with for years, you are probably not fully-accustomed to such a change in your smile. Dental implants can be your doorway to renewed self-confidence and peace of mind. A Swedish scientist and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark, developed the concept (titanium implants in bone) for oral rehabilitation more than thirty-five years ago. With his pioneering research, Dr. Branemark opened the door to a lifetime of renewed comfort and self-confidence for millions of individuals facing the frustration and embarrassment of tooth loss.
Why would you select dental implants over more traditional types of restorations?
Conventional treatment for a missing tooth requires adjacent teeth to be crowned in order to ‘bridge’ the gap. This requires removing tooth structure on the ‘innocent bystander’ tooth or teeth. Another treatment alternative is the removable ‘partial’ tooth, though this may be inconvenient or embarrassing during meals or other activities, and needs to be removed at bedtime. The research and advances in technology that have occurred over the last 20 years make dental implants very predictable, and the long-term prognosis is excellent when they are used properly. In addition, the implant in the bone helps preserve bone structure and prevents bone deterioration, or atrophy, which occurs over time in areas where teeth are missing.
Are you a candidate for implants?
If you are considering implants, your mouth must be examined thoroughly, and your medical and dental history must be reviewed. If your mouth is not ideal for implants, methods for improving the outcome, such as bone grafting, may be recommended.
What type of anesthesia is used?
The majority of dental implants and bone grafts 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 dental specialists.