Dental Implants are a wonderful way to replace missing teeth directly or provide extra stability and support to complete dentures or removable partial dentures. Dental implants are precision machined “anchors” made of biocompatible titanium much like other artificial joints, plates, or pins used in the human body. The implants are placed surgically either by me or a select group of surgeons I typically work with, depending upon the complexity of the treatment to be completed.
Implants are first surgically placed into the jaw bone requiring the restoration. The implant attaches to the bone through a process called osseointegration that typically takes four to six months. After complete healing the implant is re-exposed to the oral environment at which time I place an attachment to the osseointegrated implant called an implant abutment. The implant abutment can represent the form of prepared tooth or a more mechanical component like a snap button or a supportive bar. The final desired restoration then attaches to the implant-abutment complex for a firm, life-like feeling.
The way implants are placed depends on the patient, the type of implant, and the tooth/teeth being replaced. Some implants require two or three appointments and take up to a year to complete. With others, called immediate-load implants, the implant and final restoration can be placed on the same day. I will carefully advise you on which method is most appropriate for your dental needs. Either method will result in replacement teeth attached to implants that are very natural looking and often enhance or restore your smile.
Indications for dental implants:
- Replace one or more missing teeth without affecting adjacent teeth
- Support a fixed bridge or denture, making them more secure and comfortable
- Restore a patient’s confident smile
- Restore chewing, speech, and digestion
- Support or enhance facial tissues
- Correct joint pain or bite problems caused by adjacent teeth drifting into missing tooth space
Dental implants and their attachments 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. The success of the implant itself is dependent upon many factors. As a patient you will need to be in good general health and particularly not have any systemic diseases or conditions that decrease your immune system. Also, like in all things to do with your health, tobacco use is a significant risk to the success of implants.
Dental implants are but one choice for restoring your teeth. All dental materials have certain advantages and disadvantages but no dental material is capable of lasting forever. As your dentist, I will always advise you on the best material choices for any given situation based upon your needs, dental research, and my experience. Of course excellent oral hygiene practices, good dietary habits, and regular dental visits to my practice will aid in the life of any restoration.