What are Dental Implants and what can they do for me?

 

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge in place. They can be more conservative than traditional bridgework, since implants do not rely on neighboring teeth for support. Dental implants are so natural looking and feeling that you may forget you ever lost a tooth. Dental implants can be the best solution to the problem of missing teeth. Since dental implants integrate into the structure of your bone, they can prevent the bone loss and gum recession that often accompanies bridgework and dentures. No one will ever know that you have a replacement tooth. Some of the benefits are:

 Cost effective: Because only one tooth is replaced rather than the three teeth of a bridge, Dental Implant tooth replacement can actually cost less than the traditional bridgework.
 Tooth saving: Dental implants do not sacrifice the quality of your adjacent teeth like a bridge does because neighboring teeth are not altered to support the implant. Your own teeth are left untouched, a significant long-term benefit to your oral health!
 Comfort: Dental implants will allow you to once again speak and eat with comfort and confidence. They are secure and offer freedom from the troublesome clicks and wobbles of dentures. Say good-bye to misplaced dentures and messy pastes and glues.
 Reliable: the success rate of dental implants is highly predictable. They are considered an excellent option for tooth replacement.

 The ideal candidate for a dental implant is in good general and oral health. Adequate bone in your jaw is needed to support the implant. Dental implants are intimately connected with the gum tissues and underlying bone in the mouth. The best candidates have healthy gum tissues that are free of periodontal disease. Smoking is detrimental to healing but is not an absolute contraindication. Your dentist can determine if you are a good candidate for this procedure.

 What is treatment like?

 Depending on your specific condition and the type of implant chosen, your dentist will create a treatment plan tailored to meet your needs.The total time for treatment can range anywhere between six weeks to over a year depending on the complexity of treatment. It will be important for you to work as a team with your dentist to reach your treatment goals.

 What can I expect after?

 As you know, your own teeth require conscientious at-home oral care and regular dental visits. Dental implants are like your own teeth and will require the same care. In order to keep your implant clean and plaque-free, brushing and flossing still apply!

 Here are some of the situations which implants can be used:

 SINGLE TOOTH REPLACEMENT

If you are missing a single tooth, one implant and one crown can replace it. The dental implant replaces the root and the attached crown replaces the visible tooth. In addition to looking and functioning like a natural tooth, a dental implant replaces a single tooth without sacrificing the health of neighboring teeth. The other common treatment for the loss of a single tooth, a tooth-supported fixed bridge, requires that adjacent teeth be ground down to support the cemented bridge. Because a dental implant will replace your tooth root, the bone is better preserved. With a bridge, some of the bone that previously surrounded the tooth can begin to resorb (deteriorate). Dental implants integrate with your jawbone, helping to keep the bone healthy and intact. The stresses on the implant actually strengthen the surrounding bone. This is analogous to what happens to bone and muscle during weight training. Instead of bone atropy the bone becomes more dense and does not resorb. In the long term, a single implant can be more esthetic and easier to keep clean than a bridge. Bridges need tricky flossing devices to thread the floss in between the anchoring teeth. A single implant crown can be cleaned with the same floss used on natural teeth. Gums can recede around a bridge, leaving a visible defect when the metal base or collar of the bridge becomes exposed. Resorbed bone beneath the bridge can lead to an unattractive smile. Also, the cement holding the bridge in place can wash out, allowing bacteria to decay the teeth that anchor the bridge

 How will the implant be placed?

First, the implant, which looks like a screw or cylinder, is placed into your jaw. Over the next two to six months, the implant and the bone are allowed to bond together to form an anchor for your artificial tooth. During this time, a temporary tooth replacement option can be worn over the implant site. Often, a second step of the procedure is necessary to uncover the implant and attach an extension.Your gums will be allowed to heal for a couple of weeks following this procedure. Some implant systems (one-stage) do not require this second step. These systems use an implant that incorporates the extension piece. Your dentist will advise you on which system is best for you. A metal post, called an abutment, completes the foundation on which your new tooth will be placed. Finally, a replacement tooth called a crown will be created for you by your dentist and attached to the abutment. After a short time, you will experience restored confidence in your smile and your ability to chew and speak.

REPLACING SEVERAL TEETH

If you are missing several teeth, implant-supported bridges may be an option.First, the implant, which looks like a screw or cylinder, is placed into your jaw. Over the next two to six months, the implant and the bone are allowed to bond together to form an anchor for your artificial tooth. During this time, a temporary tooth replacement option can be worn over the implant site. Often, a second step of the procedure is necessary to uncover the implant and attach an extension.Your gums will be allowed to heal for a couple of weeks following this procedure. Some implant systems (one-stage) do not require this second step. These systems use an implant that incorporates the extension piece. Your dentist will advise you on which system is best for you. A metal post, called an abutment, completes the foundation on which your new tooth will be placed. Finally, a replacement tooth called a crown will be created for you by your dentist and attached to the abutment. After a short time, you will experience restored confidence in your smile and your ability to chew and speak. Dental implants will replace your missing tooth roots and the restorations on them will replace the teeth themselves. Dental implants provide several advantages over other teeth replacement options. In addition to looking and functioning like natural teeth, implant-supported bridges replace teeth without support from adjacent natural teeth. Other common treatments for the loss of several teeth, such as fixed bridges or removable partial dentures, are dependent on support from adjacent teeth. In addition, because implant-supported bridges will replace some of your tooth roots, your bone is better preserved. With a fixed bridge or removable partial denture, the bone that previously surrounded the tooth root may begin to resorb (deteriorate). Dental implants integrate with your jawbone, helping to keep the bone healthy and intact. In the long term, implants are esthetic, functional and comfortable. Gums and bone can recede around a fixed bridge or removable partial denture, leaving a visible defect. Resorbed bone beneath bridges or removable partial dentures can lead to a collapsed, unattractive smile. The cement holding bridges in place can wash out, allowing bacteria to decay teeth that anchor the bridge. In addition, the removable partial denture can move around in the mouth and reduce your ability to eat certain foods.

 How will the implants be placed?

First, implants, which look like screws or cylinders, are placed into your jaw. Over the next two to six months, the implants and the bone are allowed to bond together to form anchors. During this time, a temporary tooth replacement option can be worn over the implant sites. Often, a second step of the procedure is necessary to uncover the implants and attach extensions. Your gums will be allowed to heal for a couple of weeks following this procedure. There are some implant systems (one-stage) that do not require this second step. These systems use an implant which already has the extension piece attached. Your dentist will advise you on which system is best for you. Metal posts called abutments complete the foundation on which your new teeth will be placed. Finally, replacement teeth, or bridges, will be created for you by your dentist and attached to the abutments. After a short time, you will experience restored confidence in your smile and your ability to chew and speak.

 

 REPLACING ALL YOUR TEETH

 If you are missing all of your teeth, an implant supported full bridge or full denture can replace them. Dental implants will replace both your lost natural teeth and some of the roots. What are the advantages of implant-supported full bridges and implant-supported dentures over conventional dentures? Dental implants provide several advantages over other teeth replacement options. In addition to looking and functioning like natural teeth, implant-supported full bridges or dentures are designed to be long lasting. Implant supported full bridges and dentures are more comfortable and stable than conventional dentures, allowing you to retain a more natural biting and chewing capacity. In addition, because implant-supported full bridges and dentures will replace some of your tooth roots, your bone is better preserved. With conventional dentures, the bone that previously surrounded the tooth roots begins to resorb (deteriorate). Dental implants integrate with your jawbone, helping to keep the bone healthy and intact. In the long term, implants can be more esthetic and easier to maintain than conventional dentures. The loss of bone that accompanies conventional dentures leads to recession of the jawbone and a collapsed, unattractive smile; Conventional dentures make it difficult to eat certain foods.

 How will the implants be placed?

 First, implants, which look like screws or cylinders, are placed into your jaw. Over the next two to six months, the implants and the bone are allowed to bond together to form anchors. During this time, a temporary teeth replacement option can be worn over the implant sites. Often, a second step of the procedure is necessary to uncover the implants and attach extensions. These small metal posts, called abutments, along with various connecting devices that allow multiple crowns to attach to the implants, complete the foundation on which your new teeth will be placed. Your gums will be allowed to heal for a couple of weeks following this procedure. Some implant systems (one-stage) do not require this second step. Your dentist will advise you on which system is best for you. Depending upon the number of implants, the connecting device that will hold your new teeth can be tightened down on the implant, or it may be clipped to a bar or a round ball anchor to which a denture snaps on and off. Finally, full bridges or full dentures will be created for you and attached to your implants or the connecting device. After a short time, you will experience restored confidence in your smile and your ability to chew and speak.

 OTHER PROCEDURES

 RIDGE MODIFICATION: A key to implant success is the amount and quality of the bone where the implant is to be placed. Deformities in the upper or lower jaw can leave you with inadequate bone in which to place dental implants. This defect may have been caused by periodontal disease, wearing dentures, developmental defects, injury or trauma. Not only does this deformity cause problems in placing the implant, it can also cause an unattractive indentation in the jaw line near the missing teeth that may be difficult to clean and maintain. To correct the problem, the gum is lifted away from the ridge to expose the bony defect. The defect is then filled with bone or bone substitute to build up the ridge. Your dentist can tell you about your options for graft materials, which can help to regenerate lost bone and tissue. Finally, the incision is closed and healing is allowed to take place. Depending on your individual needs, the bone usually will be allowed to develop for about four to twelve months before implants can be placed. In some cases, the implant can be placed at the same time the ridge is modified. Ridge modification has been shown to greatly improve appearance and increase your chances for successful implants that can last for years to come. Ridge modification can enhance your restorative success both esthetically and functionally.

 SINUS AUGMENTATION: A key to implant success is the quantity and quality of the bone where the implant is to be placed. The upper back jaw has traditionally been one of the most difficult areas to successfully place dental implants due to insufficient bone quantity and quality and the close proximity to the sinus. If you have lost bone in that area due to reasons such as periodontal disease or tooth loss, you may be left without enough bone to place implants. Also due to disuse atrophy, the sinus itself may expand larger than if teeth were present. Sinus augmentation can help correct this problem by raising the sinus floor and developing bone for the placement of dental implants. This actually takes back some of the bone that was previously present. Several techniques can be used to raise the sinus and allow for new none to form. In one common technique, an incision is made to expose the bone. Then a small circle is cut into the bone. This bony piece is lifted into the sinus cavity, much like a trap door, and the space underneath is filled with bone graft material. Your dentist can explain your options for graft materials, which can regenerate lost bone and tissue. Finally, the incision is closed and healing is allowed to take place. Depending on your individual needs, the bone usually will be allowed to develop for about four to twelve months before implants can be placed. After the implants are placed, an additional healing period is required. In some cases, the implant can be placed at the same time the sinus is augmented. Sinus augmentation has been shown to greatly increase your chances for successful implants that can last for years to come. Many patients experience minimal discomfort during this procedure.

 

 ©2003 Implant Dentistry Communications