What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are small titanium posts. They closely resemble a metal screw, and they are placed into the jawbone where they fuse with the gum and bone tissue mimicking the function of tooth roots. We can use one or more dental implant posts to support any number of replacement teeth.
What makes Dental Implants Different?
Implant-retained tooth replacement options offer a seamless, natural restoration. Unlike traditional tooth replacement solutions that only replace the portion of the tooth above the gum line, dental implants allow us to replace the lost root structures of teeth. Tooth roots provide support for teeth, but they also create stimulation that promotes jawbone density and gum tissue volume. Without the root system, bone and soft tissue that holds teeth in place and shapes the face begins to breakdown. This can lead to dental drift, additional tooth loss, and the shrunken-in facial appearance some people equate with the elderly. The traditional forms of tooth replacement diminish these oral health issues that stem from tooth loss, but only dental implants provide the complete stability and stimulation necessary to keep the whole smile healthy.
Do I have to Visit an Oral Surgeon or Periodontist?
Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?
The only way to know for sure that you’re a good candidate for implant supported tooth replacement is to visit our office for a consultation. We strive to educate our patients on the best possible treatment for their overall dental health. During your implant consultation, we’ll take the time to walk you through all your tooth replacement options. We’ll also review your oral and overall health history and any surgical procedures you’ve undergone. If we determine you have a high chance of successfully completing the implant surgery, we’ll walk you through the entire process from start to finish, answer any questions you may have, and help you determine if this is the best treatment option for your oral health, budget, and schedule. You’ll leave our office with an informative DVD on dental implants in case you want to do further research on the treatment.
What is the Dental Implant Tooth Replacement Process Like?
Dental implant tooth replacement is completed in three main sections – planning, surgical placement, and restoration. During the planning process, Dr. Rowen will use precise 3D imaging to determine where the dental implant should be placed in order to provide optimal support and stability. We’ll show you on our chairside computer monitors exactly where the post will be implanted and answer your questions. Once we have a clear placement plan, you’ll schedule the surgical appointment.
This procedure varies in length based on the number and location of your missing teeth. However, the overall process is essentially the same. We make an insertion into the gum line. Then, we place the implant post. A protective cap is placed over the post to retain the shape of the gums in order to accommodate the attachment of an abutment and restoration. Following this part of the process, you’ll need to wait for three to six months for the implant post to fuse with the gum and bone tissue closely mimicking the natural function of tooth roots. There is a possibility that you may not have enough natural bone to support an implant. In that event, at your first appointment, we would make an insertion into your gum line and we’d place bone and potentially membrane to fuse with your natural bone, creating more stabilization to support the implant. From that point, there is a three to four month healing time prior to re-evaluating the area and placing the implant.
Once the dental implant post has completely fused with the jawbone, you’ll return to our office for the restoration phase of treatment. We’ll attach an abutment that serves as a connection between the implant post and your dental restoration. Then, we’ll place the replacement tooth or teeth. Once in position, your implant supported tooth will look, feel, and function like natural tooth structures, and with proper care, you’ll be able to retain this replacement prosthetic for decades.
Implant-Retained Crowns & Bridges
Like traditional crown and bridge restorations, the implant supported varieties are versatile and frequently used to replace one or a few consecutive missing teeth. Dental crowns can be attached to an implant post the same way they are cemented to remaining healthy tooth structure. In some cases, two dental crowns can be fused together and attached to a single implant post for support. This depends in large part on the size of the teeth. Large back teeth, molars, may require more implants to deliver the necessary support. For two to four consecutive missing teeth, we can usually use just two dental implant posts to support the entire fixed bridge prosthetic. A traditional bridge is anchored in place by attaching dental crowns fused to the replacement tooth or teeth to surrounding healthy tooth structure. Implant supported fixed bridge tooth replacement can be used to replace consecutive lost teeth without relying on healthy tooth structure for support. Instead, an implant post is placed on either end of the fixed bridge, anchoring it in position.
Patients with more advanced tooth loss will most likely want to consider an implant supported a partial or full denture. These tooth replacement prosthetics use a gum colored base material to support numerous teeth with a minimal number of dental implant posts. Partials are used to fill gaps in patients’ smiles when there are still healthy teeth, and a full denture replaces the entire row of missing teeth. The goal of implant supported prosthetics is to use the minimal number of implant posts to create the maximum stability for a long lasting tooth replacement solution.
Mini Dental Implants
Mini dental implants (MDIs) are exactly what the name suggests, smaller versions of traditional implant posts. These innovative implants have allowed us to provide safe, effective dental implant supported tooth replacement for more patients than ever before. Traditional implant posts require a significant amount of healthy gum and jawbone tissue in order to successfully fuse with the natural smile line. Mini implants make it possible for patients with diminished jawbone density or gum tissue recession to receive implant supported tooth replacements without preparatory treatments like bone or soft tissue grafting that would be required to anchor a traditional implant post. MDIs are a great option for patients with diminished supportive tissues. We may also recommend MDIs to support the smaller teeth at the front of the mouth. This allows for a more natural shape and structure for these thinner front facing teeth. The placement process is essentially the same as traditional dental implants, but the posts fuse more quickly and require a less invasive placement surgery.
All-on-4 Dental Implants
Another innovative dental implant procedure we use is the All-on-4 implant-retained denture. Just like the name suggests, All-on-4 dentures are usually supported by just four implant posts. However, this isn’t necessarily much of an innovation. We can often strategically position about four implants to support any kind of denture. The innovation is in how the All-on-4 implants are placed. The front part of the jaw bone is naturally denser than the back. Rather than using bone grafts to bulk up the back part of the jaw, the All-on-4 implant procedure uses the naturally denser portion at the front of the jaw. In order to provide support for both the front and back of the denture, two implant posts are placed vertically into the front of the jaw. Then, two implant posts are angled from the back to the front to anchor the back of the denture.