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In the past, when a patient was missing one or more teeth, dentists would try to keep or replace the teeth with root canals, bridges and dentures. Unfortunately a significant number of root canal treated teeth fail, bridges require cutting down of the adjacent teeth and dentures can often be unstable. Dental implants were developed as a potential solution to these problems.

A dental implant is an artificial root made out of titanium or other materials that are compatible with the human body. These posts are placed into the jawbone to serve as anchors to replace teeth or to help retain dentures. Implants are one of the most popular options available today for replacing a missing tooth or teeth because of their natural look, feel and functionality. Patients with dentures who cannot tolerate, chew or speak can significantly benefit by placing dental implants to firmly hold onto their dentures so that they can restore their ability to eat and speak comfortably.


How Successful is this?
Dental implant success is related to the quality and quantity of bone available and the patient’s oral hygiene. Multiple long term studies estimate the success of implants in non-smokers to be about 92-95%. Patients who smoke experience significantly poorer success rates.
What happens during the Implant Procedure?
Assuming there is adequate quantity and quality of bone, treatment generally is a three-part process that takes several months.

In the first step, the dental implants are place surgically in their planned location(s). Depending on the patient’s level of anxiety and medical health, implants can be placed under various anesthetic options: Local Anesthetic, Nitrous Oxide with Local Anesthetic, IV Sedation/General Anesthetic.

The implant then begins an “osseo-integration” phase where the bone around the implant fuses to the implant. This anchors the implant to the bone so that it can be used. This phase takes between three to six months.

In the second step, the dental implant is checked to ensure that it has fully fused to the bone and that the gum tissue has healed to allow access to the implant. Occasionally a small gum adjustment procedure called an uncovering may be required at this step. This procedure typically only takes a few minutes to complete.

In the third step, your dentist places an extension to the implant to either attach a custom implant anchored crown or to retain your denture.

How do I know if I'm a Candidate?
In order for us to tell whether an implant is possible, three things have to be accomplished: we require a dental examination, appropriate x-rays and knowledge of your medical history.
What can I expect after the placement of an Implant?
The amount of post-operative discomfort is relative to the degree of the surgery and varies from patient to patient but most patients do not have significant problems. In many cases, when patients have one or two implants, they are back to normal daily activities the day after the surgery. With more extensive implant surgery, it is conceivable to take one week for recovery.

In cases where this is prolonged pain, you should come into the office for an assessment right away. Prolonged pain is not a good sign with dental implants and although it does not mean failure, the cause of the pain should be determined as soon as possible. If an implant is not integrating normally with the bone or if an infection develops then the implant may have to be removed.

What are the alternatives to Implants?
The alternatives to implants are dentures or bridges. On the other hand, you may choose to simply accept the space where your tooth or teeth are missing.

A denture is usually made with a metal and/or plastic base with artificial teeth. They are a removable replacement for a few teeth (partial denture) or a whole set of teeth (complete denture). Dentures are very common but a great number of people find them loose and hard to speak or eat with. Implants can be fitted to support and retain a denture to solve these problems.

A bridge is made of artificial teeth which are cemented to the adjacent natural teeth. In order to secure the bridge, the adjacent teeth would need to be cut down. A bridge is considered a “fixed” option as it is cemented and is not removable. The disadvantage of a bridge is that the adjacent teeth need to be cut down (which shortens their life span) and it is difficult to clean under a bridge which leads to the development of cavities under the bridge and subsequent failure of the bridge. Dental implants are a good alternative to a bridge in that the adjacent teeth are not cut down and the implant can be easily cleaned which protects the adjacent teeth.