Implant Dentistry

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Implant Dentistry

Dental implants offer a permanent, natural-looking solution to missing teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything and can smile with confidence, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved. Dental implants are changing the way people live. With them, people are rediscovering the comfort and confidence to eat, speak, laugh and enjoy life.

A dental implant is a small titanium screw or cylinder which is surgically placed in the upper or lower jawbone, providing a permanent anchor for an artificial tooth. A patient may have a single dental implant for one missing tooth, or several dental implants to replace multiple missing teeth. Unlike dental bridges, the adjoining healthy teeth are not disturbed when placing a dental implant. Dental implants can stabilize dentures so that they do not shift in the patient's mouth. In addition, in some cases, a series of dental implants can be placed, thus eliminating the need for a traditional denture. Please ask Dr. Smith about the other health benefits of dental implants.

Benefits of Dental Implants

  • Natural Appearance
  • Dependable and Secure
  • Significant Chewing Improvement
  • Long Term Solution
  • Reduced Maintenance

Dental implants are a standard of care for tooth replacement. They represent the most significant improvement in dental care since the introduction of fluoride in drinking water. If teeth are lost, missing or unable to be saved by restorative procedures, implant replacement may be the best treatment option. Missing teeth can adversely impact a persons function and overall appearance. These tooth replacements can be virtually indiscernible from natural teeth and can dramatically enhance the ease, ability and enjoyment of eating. Implants can help preserve facial structure, preventing the bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are lost. Dental implants can be used to replace a single missing tooth, several missing teeth (partially edentulous patients), or all missing teeth (completely edentulous patients).

Conventional tooth replacement involves reduction of tooth structure of adjacent teeth to support a fixed bridge. With implant therapy, healthy teeth do not need to be reduced or compromised. Patients missing several or even all of their teeth can avoid inevitable partial or complete dentures. Research has demonstrated the long-term value of implant therapy relative to conventional modes of treatment. 

Dental implants are tooth root substitutes made of titanium that are placed into the jawbone to replace the missing tooth or teeth. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Small posts are then attached to the dental implants which protrude through the gums. These posts provide stable anchors for crown restorations.

Dr. Smith practices a team approach to implant treatment. During the initial consultation, Dr. Smith discusses functional and esthetic possibilities and the patients expectations. The implant placement is performed by a periodontist or an oral surgeon. If you do not have a relationship with an implant surgeon, Dr. Smith will recommend one with whom he has developed a long-standing collaborative relationship. However, it is ultimately your decision as to who will place the implant. The surgical procedure usually requires only a local anesthetic and most patients can return to their normal routine the following day. You will need to have a consultation with your implant surgeon to receive specific information about the implant surgical procedure.

Dr. Smith will provide the patient with a temporary prosthesis that is usually seated immediately following implant placement. This restoration is usually worn for about two to four months (or longer with grafted sites) until the jawbone attaches to the implants, a process known as osseointegration. Then, Dr. Smith makes the necessary impressions and provides detailed instructions to the dental laboratory technicians regarding form and color requirements. During the final appointment, you and Dr. Smith will verify the fit and appearance before the final implant restoration is permanently secured in place.

Single Implant Restoration

Young patients may be missing teeth due to congenital absence or from trauma. Older patients typically lose single teeth from fracture of existing crowns, periodontal disease, or root abscesses. A single implant and crown is usually the treatment of choice in these instances. Surrounding teeth are left intact and are not compromised by tooth preparation and a bridge.

Partially Edentulous Patients

For partially edentulous patients (patients missing several upper and/or lower teeth) who do not want a removable appliance, two implant options exist: (1) Implants can be placed for each missing tooth and individual crowns are made for each implant. (2) Fewer implants may be placed and one or more implant bridges can be constructed. During your initial consultation appointment, Dr. Smith will explain each option, including the advantages and disadvantages and the associated fee.

Completely Edentulous Patients

For completely edentulous patients (patients missing all of their upper or lower teeth), two implant options are available: (1) an implant bridge as described above or (2) an implant overdenture. With either treatment option designed by Dr. Smith, the patient will receive a beautiful and more youthful smile, nearly indistinguishable from natural teeth. During your initial consultation appointment, Dr. Smith will explain each option, including the advantages and disadvantages and the associated fees. The patients selection between a removable implant overdenture and fixed implant bridge is often based on cost, a patients existing anatomy and/or personal preference.

Fixed Implant Bridge A fixed implant restoration is the option most like regaining the function and security of natural teeth because it is permanently attached and non-removable. This type of prosthesis provides the highest chewing ability, superior stability and the confidence of having your own teeth. They are indicated for those patients with a personal preference for a fixed over removable prosthesis. A fixed implant bridge generally requires more implants than a removable implant option. Cleaning a fixed implant prosthesis is much like that of cleaning teeth using a brush and dental floss or other cleaning aids. The cost of a fixed implant bridge is greater than that of a removable implant overdenture.

Implant Overdenture An implant overdenture is a removable implant prosthesis retained by multiple implants or by a custom-designed bar that is attached to the implants. This removable prosthesis usually requires fewer implants than a fixed implant prosthesis. Their secure retention generally provides superior stability, chewing ability, comfort and confidence in social situations when compared to traditional complete dentures. Implant overdentures are indicated particularly for those patients who are unable or unwilling to tolerate dentures. It must be removed for cleaning at least once a day, unlike fixed implant bridges that remain in place permanently. The cost of a removable implant prosthesis is greater than that of traditional dentures, but less costly than fixed implant alternatives.