Dental implants are becoming more popular in today’s dental society for a number of reasons. Implants are utilized to offer patients a foundation for new restorative teeth where natural teeth are missing or have been extracted. The implant offers the patient the opportunity to regain normal function of the tooth without being forced to resort to a bridge or a denture.
- The implant will osseointegrate (bond) with the existing bone.
- The new implant will support your teeth firmly and safely.
- Your new implants are aesthetically pleasing.
- You will no longer have pain during talking or eating.
- The dental implant will prevent progressive bone atrophy.
- Implants have a proven scientific basis.
Why not use a bridge to replace my tooth?
In some scenarios, it may be the best, but usually an implant is better for two primary reasons: In order to fabricate a bridge, the teeth adjacent to the space have to be cut down, into a teepee-shape form, in order to have room for the bridge to fit. This means that good enamel and tooth structure may be removed, possibly leading to additional problems for these teeth that were previously healthy. The second reason is that the bridge may be difficult to floss under. A floss threader may be needed, which is a device that aids flossing, but people need fewer hindrances to flossing, not more. Some people may just not floss around the bridge, greatly affecting its life span. In the average mouth, a bridge will not last as long as an implant.
The tooth structure has two main sections, the root and the crown. The root is the section of the tooth that is below the gumline. A dental implant acts as the restorative for this section of the tooth. The metal implant acts as an anchor in the jawbone. The first step of the procedure is surgical placement of the implant. Under regular dental anesthetic, the gum tissue is opened and the dentist places the implant into the jawbone. When this is achieved, the tissue is then sutured closed. There is not often significant discomfort with this procedure. This process can take from 1-3 hours depending on the number of implants being placed. We usually give oral medication during this appointment to allow the patient to relax or lightly sleep during the procedure. You will need a driver if you elect to use the sedative medication.
This implant will be left untreated for a period of 3-6 months. During this time, the bone will grow around the implant in a process called osseointegration. A removable crown may be utilized during this time period to allow for chewing and to preserve the cosmetic appearance.
The next step in the process is to attach a healing abutment to the tooth. This is achieved by exposing the top of the implant and placing the healing abutment. This healing abutment should be in place for two to three weeks. Now, it is time to schedule with your general DDS for the final abutment and crown.
Finally, at your general DDS office, an impression is taken of the implant and a final restoration is crafted. This restoration will be comfortable and cosmetically pleasing. Your completed implant will be fully functional, allowing you to resume normal activities.
The pictures above show a patient that had a tooth extracted. Instead of the more traditional bridge which requires the adjacent teeth to be cut down, this patient elected to have a dental implant to restore the site. The implant generally lasts longer than a bridge, does not damage the adjacent teeth, and is not susceptible to decay. It is also much easier to floss around. To floss under a bridge, many times a floss threader is needed to get the floss under the space-holding tooth, which is a hassle. This hindrance is not a problem with an implant.