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 posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors act as tooth root substitutes. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Small painless caps that protrude through the gums are then attached to the implant. These caps provide stable anchors for 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 gently placed within your jawbone. For the first three to six months following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums gradually bonding with the bone. You should be able to wear temporary dentures and eat a soft diet during this time. At the same time, your dentist is forming new replacement teeth. After the implant has bonded to the bone, the second phase begins. Dr. Bonniwell will uncover the implants and attach small posts that protrude through the gums and 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 four to eight months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.
Dental Implants Presentation
To provide you with a better understanding of dental implants, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to dental implants are discussed.
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Dr. Bonniwell is often able to place single stage implants. These implants do not require a second procedure to uncover them, but do require a minimum of two to four months 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. Dental Implant placement is a team effort between an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. While Dr. Bonniwell performs the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting as necessary, the restorative dentist (your dentist) fits and makes the permanent prosthesis (teeth). Your dentist will also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process.
What Types Of Prosthesis Are Available?
A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth – each prosthetic tooth attaches to its own implant. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) can replace two or more teeth and may require only two or three implants. A complete dental prosthesis (fixed bridge) replaces all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. The number of implants varies depending upon which type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended. A removable prosthesis (over denture) attaches to a bar or ball in socket attachments, whereas a fixed prosthesis is permanent and removable only by the dentist. Dr. Bonniwell performs in-office implant surgery in a hospital-style operating suite, thus optimizing the level of sterility. Inpatient hospital implant surgery is for patients who have special medical or anesthetic needs or for those who need extensive bone grafting from the jaw, hip or tibia.
Dental Implant Overview
For a brief narrated overview of the dental implant process, please click the image below. It will launch our flash educational MiniModule in a separate window that may answer some of your questions about dental implants.
Why Dental Implants?
With dental implants, many people have come to appreciate the reality of improved quality of life. When you lose several teeth – whether it’s a new situation or something you have lived with for years – chances are you have never become fully accustomed to losing such a vital part of yourself. Dental implants are state of the art and the closest thing to replacement of natural teeth. Dental implants can be your doorway to renewed self-confidence and peace of mind. A Swedish scientist and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark, developed this concept for oral rehabilitation more than 35 years ago. With his pioneering research, Dr. Branemark opened the door to a lifetime of renewed comfort and self-confidence for millions of individuals facing the frustration and embarrassment of tooth loss.
Why Select Dental Implants Over More Traditional Types Of Restorations?
The following are only a few examples of the consequences of more traditional types of restorations: 1) Fabricating a bridge often requires sacrificing the structure of surrounding good teeth to “bridge” a space. 2) Removing dentures at night may be inconvenient or uncomfortable. 3) Dentures that slip and lack retention can be uncomfortable and frustrating.
Are You A Candidate For Implants?
If you are considering implants, your mouth must be examined thoroughly and your medical and dental history reviewed. If your mouth is not ideal for implants, ways of improving outcome, such as bone grafting, may be recommended.
What Type Of Anesthesia Is Used?
The majority of dental implants and bone grafting can be performed in the office with light sedation. Occasionally, we may be able to perform procedures under local anesthesia, or with nitrous oxide. For more difficult or involved procedures, general anesthesia may be the method of choice.
Do Implants Need Special Care?
Once the implants are in place, they will serve you well for many years if you take care of them and keep your mouth healthy. This means taking the time for good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) and keeping regular appointments with your dental specialists.
Are the implants painful?
Implant surgery and bone grafting are usually less painful than a routine dental extraction. When implants are placed or a bone graft is placed to fill an extraction site, the jawbone is no longer exposed resulting in less sensitivity than leaving an empty extraction site. While there is always the potential for swelling and discomfort after implant surgery, rarely do our patients require anything stronger than ibuprofen or Tylenol.