Dental implants are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved. Patients with dental implants can smile with confidence.
What Are Dental Implants?
The implants themselves are tiny titanium screws that are surgically placed into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal screws act as the tooth’s root substitute. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Small posts that protrude through the gums are then attached to the implant.
These posts provide stable anchors for the artificial replacement teeth.
Implants also help preserve facial structure, preventing bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.
The Surgical Procedure
For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures. First, implants are placed within your jawbone. For the first three to four months following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums gradually bonding with the jawbone. If you have a temporary prosthesis you should be able to comfortably wear it during this time.
After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. Our doctors will uncover the implants and attach small posts that protrude through the gums that will act as anchors for the artificial teeth. When the artificial teeth are placed, these posts will not be seen.
The entire procedure usually takes six to ten months, depending if bone grafting needs to be done. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, our doctors are able to place single stage implants. These implants do not require a second procedure to uncover them, but do require a minimum of six weeks of healing time before artificial teeth are placed. There are even situations where the implants can be placed at the same time as a tooth extraction – further minimizing the number of surgical procedures. Advances in dental implant technology have made it possible, in select cases, to extract teeth and place implants with crowns at one visit.
Implants are a team effort between us and your restorative dentist. While our doctors perform the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary, the restorative dentist (your dentist) fits and makes the permanent prosthesis. Your dentist will also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process.