Dental implants are titanium screws placed into the jaw bone to support artificial teeth such as single crowns, bridges or complete dentures. Titanium is one of the most biocompatible metals, meaning that bone heals around the implant after placement and attaches to it directly. This process is called “osteointegration”.
Conventional partial or complete dentures are often mobile and bulky, they cover the palate and can interfere with speech or chewing. Dental implants thus provide a stable solution to those problems. Adequate chewing and a feeling of natural tooth can thus be restored.
They are also used when one or two teeth are missing and a conventional bridge would involve grinding down the natural teeth on either side of the missing tooth or teeth. Replacement of teeth with dental implants also eliminates the area under a conventional bridge that traps food and can be difficult to keep clean.
Many patients who were told in the past that they were not candidates for dental implants can now be treated utilizing state of the art surgical techniques.
If dental implants are recommended, the procedure will be done in two phases. During phase one, the dental implant will be placed into the jaw bone. For the following few weeks, the implant will remain in place while it integrates in the bone. Most patients can wear a provisional denture during this time.
During phase two, a new crown, bridge or denture will be made by your dentist.
It is recommended that these treatments be provided by two separate teams because of the differences in skill requirements.
A complete medical history will be obtained, with particular attention to allergies, medications or health problems that might affect surgery and/or administration of anesthesia. It is important that you provide complete information, particularly about medications you may be taking, in order for the surgeon to have an accurate, recent and complete assessment of your health prior to recommending any surgery.
Before the surgeon can determine if you can receive dental implants, he will conduct an examination of your mouth and discuss the results with you. This examination will require x-rays in three dimensions which will show the amount and quality of your jaw bone, the proximity of teeth or nerves and other anatomical features that cannot be determined by visually inspecting the mouth.
Modern anesthesia techniques now make it possible to perform even complex surgery in the office with no discomfort. Both of the following techniques are usually used to control pain and anxiety:
A dental implant is only as solid as the bone in which it is placed. Most dental implants can now be placed in the jawbone without the need for a bone graft. However, there are instances where bone is insufficient, or too thin, to insure that the implant will be solid for the rest of your life. We will use bone grafts in the following situations:
Nowadays, it is rarely necessary to harvest your own bone for the graft. We use, with great success in our practice, human bone (from donors), animal bone or even synthetic bone.
Your surgeon will determine, with you during your exam and using radiographs, if a bone graft is required for your dental implant treatment.