Dental implants are an ideal solution for replacing one or more missing teeth, and can often be a superior choice when compared to conventional dental bridges or dentures. Dental implants look and act like natural teeth, and because they maintain bone mass, dental implants can help prevent additional tooth loss, as well as the sunken-face appearance associated with missing teeth.
Dental implants can also be used to secure appliances such as dental bridges and dentures. Implant-secured dentures virtually eliminate the stability problems associated with conventional dentures while still allowing the dentures to be removed for hygiene purposes.
A dental implant consists of a titanium fixture that is surgically placed in the jawbone, where it replaces the natural tooth root. Titanium is a “bio-compatible” material, meaning it will not be rejected by the body. In a few months, the dental implant securely fuses with the bone (called “osseointegration”), allowing it to withstand biting and chewing forces just like a healthy, natural tooth.
ARE DENTAL IMPLANTS RIGHT FOR ME?
The primary limiting factor in implant dentistry is the amount of bone available to receive and support the dental implant. In some cases, if it is determined that a patient does not have enough supporting bone to sustain a dental implant, bone grafting procedures may be considered. The presence of periodontal disease or certain medical conditions may preclude the ability to perform successful implant surgeries.
SEQUENCE OF EVENTS IN IMPLANT PLACEMENT
This consists of a consultation with Dr. Zeina Nseir, our periodontist, or one of the general-dentists who perform implant surgery in our practice. The dentist will examine your mouth and take any necessary x-rays. Sometimes a focalized CT scan may be prescribed as well, if further imaging of the bone is needed. The dentist will determine if you are a good candidate for dental implants, and if so, will discuss the treatment specific to your case and schedule the surgical appointment.
This is the surgical appointment. While your mouth is completely numb, a small incision is made at the implant site to expose the bone. The surgeon then prepares the site to receive the implant. Once the implant is secured, the gum is sutured closed over the implant. The implant is left undisturbed for approximately four months, to allow it to osseointegrate, or fuse with the bone. If the implant is in a visible area of the mouth, a temporary prosthesis can be made and worn during the healing phase.
Once the implant has successfully integrated with the bone, your dentist places a metallic “healing collar” that allows proper access to the implant so that an impression or digital scan can be taken. The impression or scan is sent to our ceramics laboratory, and the final appointment is scheduled.
At the final appointment, your dentist removes the healing collar and inserts a custom-designed crown made to fit perfectly into the implant. If the implant is to restore a single tooth, then a custom ceramic crown is attached to the abutment to complete the restoration. If the implant is to secure a denture or bridge, then further steps are taken for these prostheses.