Dental implants are an exciting aspect of dentistry, which tremendously improves treatment outcomes for a wide variety of patients with missing teeth.
Dental implants are titanium posts, which are the equivalent of the root of the natural tooth. Implants are very successful and have been utilized to replace missing teeth for at least forty years. Our surgeons have been involved in implant placement since 1982 and are very experienced having placed thousands of implants. Implants are the state of the art for the replacement of missing teeth. Implants are stronger than conventional bridgework and are a more conservative treatment option compared to conventional crown and bridge treatment. Implants can be used to replace one tooth or many missing teeth. Implant treatment can greatly enhance the stability of complete dentures.
How implants work
Implants are inserted into the jaw by the oral surgeon in a precise manner to enable them to support teeth. Careful planning, involving the patient, dentist and oral surgeon, is required to determine the correct placement of the implants. Most implant placement involves one surgical procedure. In many cases the implant can be placed directly into the site of an extracted tooth. After placement of the implant a healing abutment or temporary tooth is attached to the implant. Once inserted, implants need about three to four months to heal to the bone. After the healing period, a replacement tooth can be placed by the dentist. The remarkable bond between the bone and the implant provides for a very strong and stable attachment to the bone which will last many years.
To see a short video about dental implants click here.
Preparing for implant surgery
Every patient will have different needs. An exam and consultation with our surgeons will enable a plan of treatment to be developed. The examination will include radiographs (x-rays) of the jaws and teeth, an oral exam, and a review of study models of the patient’s mouth. Some patients will need decayed or damaged teeth removed prior to implant placement. Other patients may need orthodontic treatment to align teeth adjacent to the proposed implant site. Bone loss due to infection, long term denture use or trauma may require bone grafting before implants can be placed. Any of these steps can add to the overall treatment time and may possibly require additional surgical procedures. The plan of treatment is closely coordinated with the restorative dentist and surgeon.
Implant placement and recovery
Implants are typically placed in the office by the oral surgeon. Patients have the option of local anesthetic (numbing) or intravenous sedation. The surgery involves exposing the bone and drilling a precise hole into the bone. The implant is inserted into the hole and a healing abutment (small titanium post) is placed on the implant. The soft gum tissue is sutured around the abutment(s). Depending on the number of implants placed, treatment time can range from thirty minutes to two hours. Recovery is dependent upon the extent of the procedure. Single tooth implants usually produce very little discomfort or swelling. Most patients return to normal activity the next day. The more extensive procedures may require several days of recovery. It is important to minimize disturbing the implant while it is healing, which simply requires a softer diet and avoiding direct contact with the implant temporary crown or healing abutment. Antibiotics and pain relievers may be prescribed. Our surgeons are on call to help with any questions or concerns during your treatment.
In some cases patients will receive temporary teeth on the implants the same day, or shortly thereafter, that the implants are placed. This treatment option is coordinated with the restorative dentist. The objective of this treatment is to maximize comfort for the patient and to enable optimal healing of the soft (gum) tissue after implant placement. Your surgeon will discuss this option with you and determine if you are a candidate for this treatment.
After the implants are restored regular dental evaluations by the restorative dentist are very important. It is important to keep the implants as clean as if they were natural teeth. In most cases this involves brushing and flossing. Special cleaning tools may be provided by the dentist to help with hard to reach areas. Radiographs (x-rays) of the implants will be taken periodically to evaluate the health of the implant in the bone.
Over the last forty years millions of implants have been placed and are helping improve the quality of life for countless patients. Our knowledge and experience increases daily. It is safe to say that implant success is well in excess of 90%. These results will vary depending on the area of the mouth to be restored and the quality and quantity of the bone into which the implant is placed. Our surgeons will advise the patient regarding the potential for a successful outcome and will thoroughly review benefits and risks associated with the implant treatment.
In order to determine if you are a candidate for dental implant treatment, a consultation with one of our surgeons is recommended.
Dental Implant 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.
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