Dental Implants 101
Whether you are missing a tooth, or at risk of losing many, dental implants may be a great solution for you. Dental implants are an increasingly popular fix for missing or dying teeth, and have many benefits.
What is a Dental Implant?
Dental implants are high tech teeth. The root of your current tooth is removed and replaced with a titanium implant screw. A crown (or ‘cap’) is then attached to the screw that looks and feels identical to a natural tooth. Many people report higher confidence and comfort after receiving their new tooth.
What’s so Great About Them?
The cool thing about implants is that if taken care of, they can last for life. Usually all that needs to be replaced, if anything, is the crown (or ‘cap’). The other great thing about implants is that they cannot get cavities or die like natural teeth. Simply clean and maintain your dental implants like your other natural teeth. Many implants can last a lifetime!
What is the Surgical Process Like?
The process is done either all at once, or in steps. This depends on the recommendations for your particular case. Many times, a three-dimensional radiograph (x-ray) called a cone beam CT scan will be captured to visualize the jaw bone volume in all dimensions. A virtual dental implant can be placed in this image on a computer utilizing cutting edge dental implant planning software. This ‘virtual implant surgery’ enables us to tell you exactly what can be expected as a final result and to fabricate a surgical guide to ensure identical placement/positioning to that planned in the dental implant software. The first clinical step is to remove the root of your natural tooth, and place the dental implant screw in its place. If there is not enough bone to place the implant, we may encourage you to have bone grafting first. The gum is then stitched closed and allowed to heal. Sometimes, a healing abutment is placed on the implant screw at this time to aid in the integration of the implant into your jaw bone and gum tissue. For teeth in the front of the jaw (the esthetic area), we can often place a temporary tooth on the day the implant screw is placed so that you are never without a tooth! Following a healing period of three to six months, impressions can be made for your customized abutment (connects the implant screw to the final crown) and final restoration. Again, through the use of advanced digital scanning techniques, these abutments and/or crowns are regularly fabricated utilizing CAD/CAM (Computer Assisted Design/ Computer Assisted Manufacturing) technology. You then return to get your permanent crown attached in a few weeks. In other cases, all of these steps can be done in a single visit, but it depends on your specific case.
If you have any questions, please call our office for more information, we would be glad to help!