Dental implants are really changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that 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.
What Are Dental Implants?
The implants themselves are tiny 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 structure, preventing bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.
The Surgical Procedure
Traditionally, implants were placed within the jaw bone, buried under the gums, and allowed to heal for 4-6 months. Later these implants were uncovered with a second surgical procedure and small temporary posts were placed on the implants to allow the soft tissue or gums to heal around the implant. This is called a 2 stage placement. We now know that if an implant is placed within solid healthy bone, we don’t have to bury implants anymore and the healing time is shortened to 2-4 months. This is referred to single stage placement. Burying implants is now reserved when we are concerned for the prognosis of the implant due to the conditions at the time of placement or the patient’s removable denture may interfere with the healing of the implant.
Often, the dental implants can be placed at the same time as removing the tooth and this is called an immediate implant. If the bone is solid and healthy Drs. Dupree, Chandler, and Kelley will attach a temporary post, or healing abutment to the implant at the time of implant placement avoiding the second uncover surgery as well. The implant takes 2-4 months of healing prior to being able to be used. Once the implant has healed, the final posts that fit on to the implants are fabricated. These posts are called final abutments. These abutments house the final restoration, or crown. When all said and done, an “implant” is composed of 3 parts- the implant (screw, or root replacement), the final abutment, and the crown. Drs. Dupree, Chandler, and Kelley always place the implants but sometime your general dentist will make the final abutment and sometimes Drs. Dupree, Chandler, and Kelley will make the final abutment. Your general dentist will always make the final crown. The entire procedure usually takes anywhere from 3 to 6 months. In some cases where additional work must be completed prior to implant placement like bone grafting or soft tissue grafting, treatment times can be slightly longer. (see bone grafting, soft tissue grafting for details).
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.
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Drs. Dupree, Chandler, & Kelley is 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.
Dental Implant placement is a team effort between an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. While Drs. Dupree, Chandler, & Kelley 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 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.
Drs. Dupree, Chandler, & Kelley performs in-office implant surgery in a hospital-style operating suite, thus optimizing the level of sterility. Inpatient hospital implant surgery is 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?
Once you learn about dental implants, you finally realize there is a way to improve 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.
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 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: Why sacrifice the structure of surrounding good teeth to bridge a space? In addition, removing a denture or a “partial” at night may be inconvenient, not to mention that 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, ways of improving outcome, such as bone 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, 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.