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?
What happens during the Implant Procedure?
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?
What can I expect after the placement of an Implant?
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?
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.