SINGLE TOOTH REPLACEMENT
An implant may be used to replace almost any missing tooth, provided there is adequate bone at the site. If not, modern procedures can usually be performed to regenerate enough bone to safely place an implant.
The implant is placed in the bone below the gum tissue. A temporary abutment may be placed on the implant until the healing phase is complete. A cosmetic temporary crown can often be made to fill the missing space.
After healing, the abutment is attached to the implant. It will hold a custom-made crown that the dental laboratory will mold and match to the existing teeth.
In the final step, the custom crown is cemented onto the abutment. The tooth has been replaced without disturbing the healthy teeth next to it and bone loss has been eliminated.
MULTIPLE TOOTH REPLACEMENT
Implants can also be used to replace several teeth, eliminating the need to grind down healthy adjacent teeth to serve as posts for traditional crown and bridge therapy.
The implants are placed in the bone below the gum tissue. Like single tooth replacement, temporary abutments may be placed on the implants until the healing phase is complete.
After healing, the abutments are attached to the implants. They will hold a custom-made bridge that the dental laboratory will mold and match to the existing teeth.
In the final step, the custom bridge is cemented onto the abutments. The teeth have been replaced without disturbing the healthy teeth next to them, and bone loss has been halted.
IMPLANT-SUPPORTED PROSTHESIS (REMOVABLE)
If all the lower teeth are missing, five implants may be used to support a lower denture.
If all the upper teeth are missing, six or more implants may be used to support an upper denture.
The implants are positioned just below the gum tissue and given time to fuse with the bone. Temporary abutments may be placed on the implants until the healing phase is complete. The existing denture can be modified so that it may be worn without disturbing the implants during the healing process.
The patient will be fitted for a custom-made bar that attaches to the implants to support a new denture. The existing denture may be modified to be worn during this period.
The new denture will have attachments which snap or clip it into place. The new teeth are firmly supported by the jaw, stimulating it and halting bone loss. The patient will be able to remove the denture easily for cleaning.
IMPLANT-SUPPORTED PROSTHESIS (FIXED)
If all the lower or upper teeth are missing, a permanent bridge may be attached directly to the implants. The number of implants is determined by the specific requirements of each case.
The implants are positioned just below the gum tissue and given time to fuse with the bone. Temporary abutments may be placed on the implants until the healing phase is complete. The existing denture may be modified so that it can be worn without disturbing the implants during the healing process.
The patient will be fitted for a custom bridge that screws directly into the implants. The screw holes will be covered after insertion.
The new teeth are firmly supported by the jaw, stimulating it and halting bone loss. The dentist will be able to remove the prosthesis when necessary for cleaning and maintenance.
If all the lower teeth are missing, two to four implants may be used to stabilize a lower denture.
The implants are positioned just below the gum tissue and given time to fuse with the bone. Temporary abutments may be placed on the implants until the healing phase is complete.
The existing denture may be modified so that it can be worn without disturbing the implants during the healing process.
Dental implants can provide stability to the existing loose denture.
After healing, ball-top posts are attached to the implants. The old denture may be modified to hold clips that snap over the ball-tops, or a new denture with clips will be made.
The denture is snapped into place, where it is retained by the implants and supported by the soft tissue. The patient simply snaps the denture out each night for cleaning.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is the implant placement painful?
No, it is usually done under local anesthesia. Most procedures can be done in the office.
How much pain will I feel after implant placement?
The discomfort you may feel should be minor. Your dentist may prescribe medication to alleviate any pain you may have.
How long does it take to place dental implants?
Usually 30-60 minutes, depending on the location and the number of implants.
What can I eat after having an implant placed?
Your dentist will outline a diet for the next few days including some soft foods.
How long does placement, healing and construction of the replacement teeth take?
The entire process usually takes from 3 to 9 months, depending on the treatment plan.
How do I care for my implant?
Home care for implants consists of brushing and flossing. Regular dental visits are required for long-term health and success.
How long does an implant last?
If your body accepts the implant, it should last many years if cared for properly. Many implants have been in place for more than 40 years.
If my body rejects an implant, what happens?
The implant is removed and the site is allowed to heal. Another implant can usually be placed after healing.
Are dental implants covered by insurance?
Like most elective procedures, dental implants are not covered by most dental insurance plans.
OVERVIEW OF DENTAL IMPLANTS
Even early civilizations recognized the benefit of tooth replacement. Archeologists have recovered ancient skulls where teeth were replaced by materials such as cast iron and carved sea shells. Despite primitive methods and materials, some of these early implants actually fused with the bone. This fusion is called osseointegration, which is necessary for implants to be successful.
Dental implants have the highest success rate of any implanted surgical device. They are the only proven way to prevent bone loss after the loss of natural teeth. The most widely used metal in orthopedic joint replacement and dental implants is titanium. Titanium dental implants have been placed extensively since the 1970s. Titanium offers the benefit of being lightweight and strong, and is not rejected by the body (biocompatible).
Today's dental implants are precision devices, available in several different designs to address the patient's specific needs. The most common type is a titanium screw that is anchored into the jawbone where it serves as post for a custom-made tooth crown. Once the crown is in place, it will not be any different from a natural tooth.