Perhaps the greatest advance in the field of dentistry over the past generation has been the advent of the osteointegrated dental implant. Today’s dental implant can provide a patient with the ability to replace partial and full dentures and to restore missing teeth without the necessity of using other teeth as anchors. Fixed bridgework can replace removable partial dentures and implants also allow for the stabilization of previously loose ill-fitting dentures.
In essence, the implant will replace roots of teeth and will allow the dentist to fabricate restorations over these artificial roots. Dental implants 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 and can smile with confidence, knowing that their teeth will appear natural.
In order to determine whether an area where a tooth or teeth are missing would be a good site for a dental implant, it may be necessary to do a full radiographic study of the area including a CBCT 3-dimensional scan. Once a determination that the site is satisfactory to accept an implant is confirmed, a complete treatment plan must be determined by your periodontist and the general dentist or prosthodontist who will be restoring the teeth.
There are many different ways a dental implant and the replacement tooth may be placed. In certain cases, it is possible that a replacement tooth can be placed over an implant in one visit. More frequently, however, placing of a dental implant and restoring a tooth is generally done in several stage.
In stage one of the procedure, we will surgically place the implant body into the jawbone. This is accomplished by making an incision in the gum, preparing the bone to accept the implant and placement of a titanium implant into the bone. The gum is then replaced over the seated implant. The implant is then given time to integrate into the jawbone. Bone will grow around the implant and will provide a solid base for the tooth that is being restored. The length of time allowed for the bone to integrate is very variable. It depends upon the site of the implant, the jaw in which the implant was placed, the density of the existing bone and several other contributing factors. During this time, in many cases, a temporary tooth replacement can be worn over the implant site.
Once the bone has integrated around the implant, we will initiate the next phase of treatment by opening the gum and placing a temporary healing cap into the body of the implant. The patient will then return to the general dentist, where the healing cap will be replaced by a post which will act as the base of a crown. The crown will be created in a laboratory based on an impression made by the dentist. The crown will then be placed and the implant based replacement tooth will be completed. It will function and feel like a tooth and will remain in the mouth permanently. It does not need to be removed.
There are some implant systems (one-stage) that do not require this second step. These systems use an implant which already has the extension piece attached. We will advise you on which system is best for you.
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