A good candidate for dental implants is anyone missing one or more teeth, or who is unhappy with their dentures. Age is not a factor. However, smoking, diseases such as diabetes, and radiation therapy to the area, have been shown to lower the success rate of implant placement. X-rays of your jaw will be taken to evaluate whether they will accommodate implants. Cone beam scans may also be required to determine if other tests or procedures are needed to place implants properly.
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WHY DENTAL IMPLANTS?
Your teeth affect your whole body. When they’re healthy, you’re healthier too. A missing tooth can affect your bite, speech and eating choices.
Who would want their appearance and health to deteriorate? That’s the natural consequence of missing teeth – the jaw literally melts away. Generally, people will lose 25% of their supporting jawbone structure within the first year after tooth loss. Dental implants are more easily placed when teeth are first extracted because bone replacement becomes more complex as time passes. The great news? Implants act just like your natural teeth. They safeguard and preserve your bone structure, oral health and appearance.
DENTAL IMPLANTS form a strong foundation for teeth and keep the jaw healthy and strong. Implants support individual replacement teeth or secure specialized dentures in place. Unlike bridges, no healthy teeth are damaged. Unlike most bridges, implants can last a lifetime. Implant-supported replacement teeth are attractive, stable, and comfortable for almost any patient.
A natural tooth consists of a root and a crown. If you compare natural teeth to implant-supported replacement teeth, you’ll see they have the same basic parts. Both have a crown (the visible part used to chew food). Both have a root that holds the tooth securely under the gum and is anchored into the jaw. The difference is that the implant is made of titanium – the same time-tested material used by surgeons for artificial joints.
Dental implants are often placed several months after extraction. At times, an implant may be placed immediately after extraction of a tooth. This may involve a little more risk, but it simplifies the process—you won’t have to wait for another appointment to place the implant.
Recent advances in dental implant technology have opened the door for 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 implant can be placed at the same time as the tooth extraction – further minimizing your number of surgical procedures. When infection or other problems with the bone are present, immediate implant placement is not the best treatment.
If your tooth has been missing for some time, the adjacent support bone is likely to grow thinner and shrink. This occurs because the root of the natural tooth has to be present to stimulate the bone. As much as one third of your jaw’s thickness can be lost in the year following tooth extraction. If you are missing enough bone, you may benefit from having additional bone grafted into the area. This ensures the implant will be adequately supported when it is placed in the jaw.
The procedure to place a dental implant takes 30 to 60 minutes for one implant and only 2 to 3 hours for multiple implants. The number of appointments and time required vary from patient to patient. Most frequently, one implant per missing tooth is placed. Because many of the larger teeth in the back of your jaws have two or three roots, the most common approach is to replace missing back teeth with larger implants.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Prior to surgery, you may receive antibiotics and for greater comfort, general anesthesia or intravenous sedation. These options are discussed with you at your consultation appointment. A local anesthetic will be administered to numb the area where the dental implant will be placed.
When you are comfortable, the surgeon will make a small incision in the gum tissue to reveal the bone, creates space using special instruments, and will gently insert the titanium implant. The top of this implant is often visible through the gum. Sometimes it is better in the early stages of healing to have the implant covered by the gum tissue. The gum tissue also has to mature and provides access to the implant.
Occasionally, impressions are made at the time the implant is placed. This enables the crown to be ready when the implants have healed. How long your mouth needs to heal is determined by a variety of factors. Follow-up care (one to four appointments) is usually needed to ensure that your mouth is healing well and to determine when you are ready for the restorative phase of your treatment.
It may be beneficial to perform a soft tissue graft to obtain stronger, more easily cleaned and natural appearing gum tissue in the area around the implant. This process involves moving a small amount of gum tissue from one part of your mouth to the area around the implant. Most often, it is a brief and relatively comfortable procedure.
HEALING AND RESTORATION AFTER IMPLANT PLACEMENT
Whether it’s one tooth or all of your teeth that are being replaced, Dr. Arnold will complete the restoration by fitting the replacement tooth (crown) to the dental implant.
Time is allowed for bone to heal and grow around the dental implant. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. A support post (abutment) is then placed on the implant and a new replacement tooth (crown) is placed on top of the abutment. In many cases a temporary replacement tooth can be attached to the dental implant immediately after it is placed. If all of your teeth are missing, a variety of treatment options are available to support the replacement.
As Prosthodontists, we are experts in making sure that your prosthetic teeth, including dental implants, look and feel just like your natural ones. By carefully fitting and measuring with the help of the newest in imaging technology, we are able to ensure optimal function and esthetics.