Dental implants are changing the way that people live and are usually the best treatment option for replacing missing teeth. Whether you are young, middle aged or an older adult, and whether you need to replace one tooth or several, there is normally a dental implant option to suit your needs.
Implants are also a solution for patients who have existing medical conditions, gum disease, problem teeth and those already wearing partial or complete dentures. Studies show that approximately 70% of adults ages 35-44 have lost at least one tooth due to gum disease, tooth decay, failed root canals or other injuries to the tooth structure. By the age of 75, approximately 25% of adults have lost all of their teeth.
Patients now have the opportunity to replace these teeth with dental implants that provide permanent replacement teeth that look, feel and function like natural teeth. Rather than having a denture that rests on top of the gums or damaging healthy adjacent teeth to construct a bridge, dental implants act as tooth root substitutes and the new tooth/teeth are placed directly on the implant. If properly cared for, dental implants can last a lifetime.
What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is composed of three different parts:
- The implant body is a titanium-threaded cylinder that is surgically placed into the jawbone and functions as the new root. The jawbone bonds with the titanium surface creating a firm foundation for the artificial tooth (crown) to be placed on top of the implant
- A temporary healing post (abutment) fits over the top of the implant and is exposed at the gum line. This stays on top of the implant during the healing phase.
- The restorative dentist will eventually remove the temporary healing post and place the permanent tooth (crown) on top of the implant for a tooth that looks and functions like a normal tooth.
Implants help preserve facial structures and prevent bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are lost. People who are missing one tooth can choose to have a fixed bridge made to replace that tooth; but a bridge requires the cutting down of healthy, adjacent teeth. It has been determined that within approximately six years there is a failure rate of up to 30% of the teeth that support a fixed bridge or removable partial denture. There is also the likelihood that the bridge may need to be replaced at least once and that the involved teeth will need a root canal.
Traditional dentures may contribute to weakening or loss of bone in the area where the teeth were located. When a tooth is replaced by a dental implant, the fusion (osseointegration) of the implant and bone provide the same stability that a healthy natural tooth would. This also helps to prevent bone loss of the jaw.
The Surgical Procedure
Usually the placement of implants is far easier than an extraction, with less swelling and discomfort post-operatively. For most patients, the placement of the implants will involve two surgical procedures. In the first surgery, implants are placed into the jawbone and the gums are sutured closed. You will never actually see the implants, just as you never see the roots of your natural teeth!
For the next three to six months, the integration process occurs and bone forms around the implants. During this time, replacement teeth can be worn if desired in the form of a temporary removable partial denture or a flipper.
After the healing process is completed, the second procedure is performed, whereby the implants are uncovered and temporary healing posts, or abutments, are placed. These temporary metal abutments prepare the gums to accept the final crown. Your dentist will then take impressions of the implants and have the lab fabricate the crowns or denture. The new prosthesis will be delivered by your dentist at a separate appointment. The sequencing of treatment may vary from case to case and will be discussed with you at your consultation appointment.
Dental Implants will allow you to:
- Improve your smile
- Eat the foods that you love.
- Restore chewing for improved digestion
- Restore facial structure
- Enjoy an active lifestyle with confidence
To provide you with a better understanding of dental implants, we have integrated the module you see above. Many of the frequently asked questions regarding implants are discussed. A printable brochure is also available through the module.