Dental implants are 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 a normal diet virtually anything, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved. Patients with dental implants can smile with confidence.
The implants themselves are tiny titanium anchors that are surgically placed into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal posts act as tooth root substitutes. The bone heals directly against the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Small posts that protrude through the gums are attached to the implant. These posts provide stable anchors for artificial replacement teeth.
Implants also preserve facial structure by stimulating the bone during function in the areas where they have been placed. Without stimulation from function, the bone where teeth have been lost will slowly atrophy (shrink away) and resorb.
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, the oral surgeons at Centrasota Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons are often able to place single stage implants. These implants do not require a second procedure to uncover them, but do require a minimum of 8-12 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.
Implant treatment plans are most often a team effort between a restorartive dentist and your oral surgeon. While your oral and maxillofacial surgeon performs the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary, the restorative dentist (your dentist) makes and fits the permanent prosthesis. Your dentist also may make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process. In some cases, the oral surgeon may also place an immediate provisional (temporary) tooth during the healing process. This is only a temporary tooth which is eventually replaced by your restorative dentist.
For many patients, the placement of dental implants involves one surgical procedure. Implants are placed within your jawbone and allowed to heal following surgery. Most patients experience minimal discomfort in the immediate healing phase. During the healing period the implants gradually bond with the jawbone. You should be able to wear temporary tooth replacement appliances and eat soft to normal foods during this time.
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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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 supported by your implants, whereas a fixed prosthesis is permanent and removable only by your dentist.
For a brief narrated overview of the dental implant process, please click the image below. It will launch our flash educational MiniModule in a separate window that may answer some of your questions about dental implants.
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Dental implants can be your pathway to renewed self-confidence and peace of mind.
Once you learn about dental implants, you will realize there is a way to improve the quality of 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.
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 embarrassing.
If you are considering implants, your mouth must be examined thoroughly and your medical and dental history reviewed. Special radiographs may be needed to better assess your jaw structure. If your mouth is not ideal for implants, ways of improving outcome, such as bone grafting, may be recommended.
Dental implants and bone grafting can be performed in the office under local anesthesia, IV sedation, or general anesthesia. You and your oral surgeon will discuss all of the anesthesia options available. The final decision will best match the degree of the surgical procedure and your individual comfort level, as well as your medical history.
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.