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Dental Implants

 

Dental implants are dramatically changing the ways in which missing teeth cab be replaced, and consequently, are having a tremendous impact on the lives of patients. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth which look, feel and function like natural teeth. 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.  Patients with dental implants can smile with confidence and know that their bony architecture will be maintained for many years to come.

What are Dental Implants?

The implants themselves are titanium posts (titanium is a rare biocompatible metal), which are inserted into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors act as tooth root substitutes. They are surgically placed into the jawbone. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth.

An attachment called an abutment (like a small pillar) is then attached to the implant, which protrude through the gums. These abutments provide stable anchors for artificial replacement teeth. Implants also help preserve facial structure, preventing 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 and it then takes approximately 1 to 6 months--depending on multiple factors--for implants to integrate with the bone.

Depending on your situation, you may be able to use a temporary restoration during this time.  In certain cases, artificial teeth can be attached to implants on the same day of surgery. Many patients who have complete dentures could benefit from the new concept of “All on Four” Nobel Biocare protocol, where patient can have complete upper and lower arches restored on the same day of surgery. Please discuss the details for such an option with your dentist and DSI specialist.

After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. DSI specialists will uncover the implants and attach small posts, which will act as anchors for the artificial teeth. These posts protrude through the gums.

When the artificial teeth are placed, these abutments will not be seen. The entire procedure usually takes three to six months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.

Surgical Advances

Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, DSI specialists are sometimes able to place single stage implants. These implants do not require a second procedure to uncover them, but do require a minimum of six weeks of healing time before artificial teeth are placed.

There are even situations where the implants can be placed at the same time as a 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 at one visit.  This procedure, called "immediate loading," greatly simplifies the surgical process.              

Who actually performs the implant placement?

Implants are a team effort between an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and a Restorative Dentist.  While a DSI Oral Surgeon may perform the actual implant surgery, and initial tooth extractions and bone/soft tissue 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 prostheses 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 which type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended.

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.

DSI specialists perform in-office implant surgery for your convenience.  Alternatively, Inpatient hospital implant surgery is available for patients who have special medical or anesthetic needs or for those who need extensive bone grafting from the jaw, hip or tibia.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Implants?

Once you learn about dental implants, you finally realize there is a way to improve the quality of your life.  When you lose several teeth – whether it’s a new situation or something you have lived with for years – chances are you have never become fully accustomed to losing such a vital part of yourself.

Why would you select dental implants over more traditional types of restorations?

There are several reasons:  Why sacrifice the structure of surrounding good teeth to bridge a space with a fixed Bridge or a denture or "partial" that at night may be inconvenient to remove? Not to mention that dentures that slip can be uncomfortable and rather embarrassing.  Moreover the conventional prosthesis brings about continuous loss of bony infrastructure of your jaws--affecting your facial contours, whereas implants maintain the bony soft tissue architecture.

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 you mouth is not ideal for implants, ways of improving outcome, such as bone/soft tissue grafting, may be recommended.

What type of anesthesia is used?

The majority of dental implants and bone graft can be performed in the office under local anesthesia, intravenous sedation, though sometimes for more complex and lengthy procedures general anesthesia may be indicated.

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.  With such care, implants have been documented at 10 years post operation to be 97% successful.