Dental implants are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look and function like natural teeth. The even provide some sensation of biting. A person who has lost their teeth regains the ability to eat more challenging foods. The implant itself also helps to maintain bone where it is placed; typically bone that is not in function (ie does not contain a tooth root or an implant) will dissolve away with time.
What Are Dental Implants?
The implants themselves are small titanium posts that are surgically placed 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 that protrude through the gums are then attached to the implant. These posts provide stable anchors for artificial replacement teeth.
Implants also help preserve facial bone structure, preventing the bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.
The Surgical Procedure
For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures:
First, implants are placed 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 period. While this integration in occuring, your dentist is forming your new replacement teeth.
After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. Your surgeon will uncover the implants and attach small posts that protrude through the gums that will act as anchors for the artificial teeth. These posts will be covered and hidden from view by the artificial teeth that are placed. The entire procedure usually takes six to eight months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.
Dental Implants Presentation
To provide you with a better understanding of dental implants, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to dental implants are discussed.
Dental implant placement is a team effort between an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. Your surgeon performs 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 Prosthesis Are Available?
A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth – each prosthetic tooth attaches to its own implant. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) can replace two or more teeth and may require only two or three implants. A complete dental prosthesis (fixed bridge) replaces all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. The number of implants varies depending upon a variety of factors. A removable prosthesis (over denture) attaches to a bar or ball-in-socket attachments, whereas a fixed prosthesis is permanent and removable only by the dentist.
The implant surgery is performed in a hospital-style operating suite.
A Swedish scientist and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark, developed this concept for oral rehabilitation more than 35 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 Select Dental Implants Over More Traditional Types Of Restorations?
There are several reasons: A dental bridge can sacrifice the structure of surrounding good teeth to bridge the space of the missing tooth/teeth. In addition, removing a denture or a “partial” at night may be inconvenient, not to mention dentures that slip can be uncomfortable and rather embarrassing.
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 your mouth is not ideal for implants there are ways of improving the outcome, such as bone grafting, which may be recommended.
What Type Of Anesthesia Is Used?
The majority of dental implants and bone grafting can be performed in our 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 good care of them and keep your mouth healthy. Good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) and keeping regular appointments with your dentist and dental specialists is key to the long term success of dental implants.