The guide to dental implantsLast updated : November 30, 2016
Posted by: Reading Dental Associates
What is a Dental Implant?
Dental implants are the treatment of choice for people missing one, a few, or all of their teeth, and for those with failing teeth or severe periodontal disease. A dental implant is essentially a titanium substitute for a natural tooth root, rooted in the bone, and implants replace, look and perform like natural teeth. The need for plastic on the roof of the mouth, or adhesives and denture creams is eliminated.
More important, the use of dental implants does not impact healthy, adjacent teeth. For eligible patients, replacement teeth then can be restored immediately, returning a spectacular smile in a short time span, usually on the same day.
A dental implant designed to replace a single tooth is composed of three parts:
• the titanium implant that fuses with the jawbone;
• the abutment, which fits over the portion of the implant that protrudes from the gum line; and
• the crown, which is the visible tooth in the mouth, and which fits onto the abutment for a natural appearance
With 50 years of clinical research and an overall success rate of 98%, dental implants are frequently the best treatment option for the replacement of missing teeth.
How do dental implants work?
Teeth restored with dental implants look, feel and function just like natural teeth. You brush, floss and visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings, same as you would to care for a natural tooth.
After meeting with an implant dentist to develop your treatment plan, the placement of a dental implant usually involves several steps:
The dental implant, usually a cylindrical and/or tapered post made of titanium, is placed surgically into the jawbone. As you heal, your implant will osseointegrate, or fuse with, your natural jawbone, with the two growing together to form a strong and long-lasting foundation for your replacement teeth. This healing process can take weeks to months while you proceed with your everyday life in between appointments.
Once the implant bonds with the jawbone, a small connector – called an abutment – is placed on top of the dental implant to connect the implant to the replacement tooth or teeth.
An individual tooth, an implant-supported bridge or dentures containing multiple teeth are then attached to the abutment.
Advantages of dental implants
• Dental implants can replace single or multiple teeth, or all the teeth on one or both jaws/arches of your mouth
• Implants are fixed in place and do not move, so you don’t experience the same problems as with dentures
• Implant supported teeth are the next best thing to natural teeth. They look, feel and function very much like your natural teeth
• Dental implants allow you to eat all the foods you like, just as with your natural teeth
• Dental implants help encourage the preservation of natural jaw bone and maintain the facial structure
• Dental implants have a 95% success rate, supported by many years of clinical experience and many satisfied patients
• Dental implants and your new teeth preserve healthy the adjacent teeth from the destruction caused by conventional fixed bridge treatment, which requires filing down of healthy adjacent teeth to support the bridge. These filed down teeth can often fail within just a few years, requiring more extensive and expensive dental work
• Unlike bridges or dentures, dental implants are placed into and fuse with the bone in your jaws. This not only provides stability, but also prevents bone loss and atrophy that normally results from missing teeth
• Dental implants provide a longer-term solution to your dental problems, often lasting a lifetime. Traditional bridges usually require replacement due to the support teeth , which eventually fail
• With dental implants, you eliminate the discomfort often associated with ill-fitting dentures
Can Anyone Get Dental Implants?
In most cases, anyone healthy enough to undergo a routine dental extraction or oral surgery can be considered for a dental implant. Patients should have healthy gums and enough bone to hold the implant. They also must be committed to good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. Heavy smokers, people suffering from uncontrolled chronic disorders -- such as diabetes or heart disease -- or patients who have had radiation therapy to the head/neck area need to be evaluated on an individual basis. If you are considering implants, talk to your dentist to see if they are right for you.
Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Dental Implants?
In general, dental implants are not covered by dental insurance at this time. Coverage under your medical plan may be possible, depending on the insurance plan and/or cause of tooth loss. Detailed questions about your individual needs and how they relate to insurance should be discussed with your dentist and insurance provider.
Dental procedure for implants
A dental implant treatment may involve several pieces. However, it may also be described as having two main parts. One part is a restoration that is custom fabricated to match the shape of a natural tooth crown. The second part is the implant that replaces the function of a natural tooth root. Implants are made of titanium or titanium alloy. Unlike most materials, our body normally accepts titanium without infection.
The first phase of implant treatment involves creating an opening in the jawbone in preparation for the implant. The implant is placed under the skin and into the bone at the first surgical appointment. This surgical appointment is performed in the dental office under local anesthetics with or with out oral sedation. The implant is then placed, followed by a healing cover. Depending on the implant system, the gums may be sutured and a temporary denture placed.
A healing cover is placed over the implant A healing cover is placed over the implant. The site immediately begins to heal, a process known as oseo-integration takes place, where bone molecules begin to attach themselves to the titanium surrounding the implant.
Then, the dental implants are allowed to heal. It usually takes between two to four months for the bone to securely bond to the entire implant surface. After this healing time the implants are exposed at a brief second surgical appointment prior to placing a post inside. The post becomes the extension to which a crown is attached. The total process tends to take a period of four to seven months.
The final phase involves the custom restoration being fitted and securely placed. Dental Implant is exposed a second-time Dental Implant is exposed a second-time. A crown is attached to the dental implant A crown is attached to the dental implant. The anchors become securely embedded in the jaw as the bone grows around them over the first few months. Abutment posts are inserted into the anchors and carefully crafted replacement teeth are permanently attached to the posts, providing the recipient with natural looking and feeling teeth.
including the single tooth implant, multiple tooth implant or full-mouth rehabilitation.
Single dental Implant
Whether it’s caused by the natural aging process or by sudden mouth trauma, the loss of a tooth can be a shocking and upsetting event. We understand the emotions that can accompany such a loss, and that’s why we offer what is not only the most lasting and natural option, but the only solution that has absolutely no negative impact on surrounding teeth, and in fact helps preserve them.
A typical single tooth implant procedure is completed in two steps. The first step is placing the implant itself. The implant is a titanium screw that the dentist will place in the jawbone. The implant essentially takes the place of the tooth’s root. Depending on the quality of existing jawbone, the implant will heal for two to six months while the jawbone re-moulds around it to form a strong, permanent bond. A temporary tooth replacement can be placed over the implant in the meantime.
In the second step, a crown will be made especially for your mouth; it will look and feel just like your natural teeth.
Our patients who have experienced the loss of multiple teeth have understandable concerns about the appearance of their smiles, as well as the loss of function and difficulty chewing. We share those concerns, but ours also extend a bit deeper—down to the jawbone. Because when there’s a gap on the surface of the gums, there’s a matching gap below, one that needs structure and support.
A multiple-tooth implant procedure is also known as an implant-supported bridge. Unlike a traditional bridge, which sits atop the gums and relies on the adjacent teeth for support, an implant-supported bridge begins with a set of titanium screws placed in the jawbone beneath the surface of the gums. Over a healing period of two to six months, these dental implants form a biological bond with the surrounding jawbone. This not only gives you the strongest possible foundation for your new teeth, but it also prevents the deterioration of the jawbone, which can otherwise occur after tooth loss.
Once the dental implants are firmly integrated with the jawbone, your specially created implant-supported bridge is attached in place. Your implanted-supported teeth will look, feel and function just like strong, natural teeth.
Though our teeth play a major role in our everyday lives, it’s a privilege to not be obliged to spend much time thinking or worrying about them. We strive to give that privilege to each one of our patients – especially the ones in need of a full-mouth restoration, and that’s just not possible with traditional dentures.
Full-arch rehabilitation begins with a set of dental implants being embedded in the jawbone. These dental implants work to preserve the surrounding jawbone and prevent deterioration or, in extreme cases, a caving in of the mouth area. The dental implants can also be thought of as the root system for the patient’s new teeth. The dental implants will bond with the jawbone for a period of two to six months, ensuring a strong anchor system.
There are two options for full-arch rehabilitation. The first is a full-arch implant-supported bridge. The implant-supported bridge will be attached to the metal posts and remain in place permanently and will be carefully cleaned and maintained by the patient the way natural teeth would be. The second option is an implant-supported denture, which clips into place and can be removed for nightly cleaning, like traditional dentures. Implant-supported dentures, however, have a much stronger foundation than traditional dentures and offer increased retention and stability. In addition to looking like healthy, natural teeth, both implant-supported dentures and implant-supported bridges give patients natural chewing function and won’t interfere with speech. With a consultation, a dentist can recommend the option that is best for you.
The Benefits of Dental Implants
Choosing implants allows us to replace your teeth independently of any other teeth in your mouth. For example, a traditional dental bridge would replace a single tooth – but it would require us altering the natural teeth next to it for support.
With a dental implant, you can place a single prosthetic tooth in the location of the missing one. The final product looks and feels like a natural tooth. You can even floss or brush it as you would a tooth anywhere else in your mouth.
Larger implant restorations such as dentures take up even less space than their conventional version. We can even use as few as 4 or 6 implants to support the entire prosthesis, due to the level of integrity that the treatment has to offer.
Implants improve the bone quality of your jaws. As we age, we naturally lose bone. This not only weakens our jaws, it also impacts our facial profiles. Being that the implant root is made from titanium, new bone growth is triggered.
In addition to the risks of surgery, there is the possibility of a failure. An implant can fail if an infection develops, which is rare, or if the bite (the way the teeth come together) has not been properly adjusted. In addition, clenching or grinding teeth can put a lot of pressure on the implant. This may cause bone loss, and cause the implant to break or fail.
You should be aware that when implants are used to replace lower teeth, a nerve that runs through the jawbone sometimes can be injured when the bone is being drilled or the implant is being placed. This can cause numbness or tingling. If this happens, it usually involves the lower part of the lip and chin or one side of the tongue. The numbness can be temporary, until the nerve heals, or it can be permanent. However, it is not common for the nerve to be injured. X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans can help your dentist to see where the nerve is located and minimize the possibility of injuring the nerve.
In the upper jaw, there is a risk of drilling through the jawbone into one of your sinuses (located above your upper teeth) or nasal cavity, which could cause an infection. To avoid this, special X-rays are taken before your surgery to help your surgeon to determine where your nerves and sinuses are located.
Tips for dental patients
Most dental implants are successful, and there are a few steps you can take to help ensure success and make them last.
• Practice good oral hygiene – brush twice a day and floss once daily. Using interdental brushes, brushes that slide between teeth, can help clean the hard to reach areas around your implant
• Quit smoking – smoking can weaken the bone structure and can contribute to dental failure
• Visit your dentist – cleanings and exams every six months can help ensure your implant is in good condition, and that it stays that way
• Avoid chewing on hard foods – don’t chew on hard items such as ice and hard candy because they can break the crown and your natural teeth