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Dental Implants

Dental implants are artificial tooth roots (usually titanium alloy) that are surgically placed into the upper or lower jaw bone.  Using dental implants is a great way to restore missing teeth and the standard of care for this type of treatment. Using dental implants allows for a better solution in almost all cases to having a removable partial denture or drilling natural teeth to support a conventional fixed bridge.

Typically, individual crowns, splinted (attached together) crowns or bridges are made to fit over and restore implants.  We can also restore implants with Denture Attachments.  Denture attachments fit on top of underlying implants and connect the implant to the denture with a small mechanical device that works much like a snap on a jacket.  These are especially suited for patients who have dentures which are uncomfortable and loose due to poor jaw form as they can stabilize and secure the denture in place.

Dental implants are very strong, stable, and durable and will last many years, but on occasion, they will have to be re-tightened or replaced due to normal wear.

Reasons for dental implants:

  • Replace one or more missing teeth without affecting adjacent teeth (needing to drill sound teeth)
  • Generally more durable and longer lasting solution than fixed bridge on natural teeth
  • Restore a patient’s confident smile.
  • Restore chewing, speech, and digestion.
  • Restore or enhance facial tissues.
  • Support a bridge or denture, making them more secure and comfortable.
  • Decay resistant
  • May help maintain bone mass

What does getting dental implants involve?

The process of getting implants requires a number of visits over several months, it is not a quick process.

Digital X-rays, impressions (molds) and photographs are taken of the jaw and teeth to determine bone, gum tissue, and spacing available for the implant. Thorough health screening is essential.  Careful planning is done using a computer simulation and usually a wax mock up is made of the proposed restoration before treatment begins. In more complex cases, 3-D digital scans are required to determine exact placement locations prior to treatment. With most cases,  the implant will be surgically placed into the bone along with a healing abutment (healing post) and allowed to integrate itself into the bone and tissue for several months. In some circumstances, additional bone may be required to "build up" an area prior to implant placement.  This is referred to as "grafting" and may require an additional procedure from implant placement or be done at the same time.  Depending on the type of implant, bone quality, healing progress and aesthetic demands a follow up procedure may be required in order to place the “healing post”.  In most cases treatment is done using local anesthetic only, however in more complex cases, general anesthetics are used for patient comfort.

Temporary crowns and several appointments may be required to achieve a natural looking fit with the new crowns at the gum line.  After several weeks of healing, new impressions are made in order to fabricate final crowns and abutments (final posts). After any needed evaluation period, the crowns are securely attached to the implant, providing excellent stability and comfort to the patient.  In some ideal circumstances, temporary crowns may be fitting immediately to the implants after initial placement providing the patient instant replacement of missing teeth and acting a healing abutments.  

You will receive care instructions when your treatment is completed.  Good oral hygiene, eating habits, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new implant.  Implant supported crowns and bridges require careful planning and regular checkups.