A dental implant is an option to replace a missing tooth. In this procedure, a small titanium shaft is surgically implanted into the bone and allowed to set. The bone grows around it forming a tight connection, which additionally slows or stops the bone loss that occurs when the root of a natural tooth is missing. Once the implant is firmly set in the mouth, your dentist then works to attach the replacement tooth onto the top of the abutment. This permanent solution has the advantages over bridge work that it does not stress the surrounding teeth for support, periodontal disease is highly unlikely, and they will not decay. Should the tooth wear out, another can simply be replaced on the abutment.
Implants can also be used as support as part of an implant bridge. This is an alternative to partial dentures, and has several advantages. First, there is no adjustment period to acclimatize the patient who, once the work is done, only feels teeth, not metal supports intruding into the mouth. Second, this slows the bone loss occasioned by missing teeth. Third, there is no discomfort or difficulty in eating. And, best of all, of course, they don't have to be taken out all the time.
What Are Dental Implants?
Today, the preferred method of tooth replacement is dental implant treatment. Dental implants replace missing tooth roots, and form a stable foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like your natural teeth. Dental implants also help preserve the remaining bone by providing the stimulation previously provided by the natural tooth roots. There are numerous advantages of dental implant treatment over other treatment options. It is not necessary to grind down the adjacent teeth for a bridge, or secure a partial denture to adjacent teeth with clasps or hooks, which can cause tooth loosening. Implant-supported replacement teeth spare patients many of the disadvantages of traditional false teeth.
Dental implants are available in several different forms. The most common dental implants are called "root form implants." Root form implants are similar to teeth in that they mimic roots of teeth. They can be used to support individual teeth or to help anchor removable dentures. The implants are placed under the skin and into the bone at the first surgical appointment. This surgical appointment is performed in the dental office under local anesthetic, and when necessary, with oral sedation. The dental implants are allowed to heal for a period of two to four months. Sometime after this healing time, the implants must be exposed at a brief second surgical appointment prior to placing a post (abutment) inside. The post becomes the extension to which a crown is attached. The total process tends to take a period of four to six months.
Implants are made of a bio-compatible material called titanium, which cannot decay and does not need root canal therapy. An advantage of implants is that they stimulate bone growth, and thus, prevent future bone loss. Bone behaves similarly to muscle. When the muscle is stimulated and active, it will grow. If the muscle stops being active, it shrinks. The same events occur with bone; however if bone disappears, it can only be replaced with a bone graft.
In order to determine the best treatment for each patient, an extensive number of diagnostic records must be taken. These include X-rays, models, photos, an examination and possibly a CT Scan. This information together with the patient's desires will determine the ideal treatment. It is impossible to give an exact estimate of time, fees or extent of treatment without a blueprint of the treatment plan.
Occasionally, if a patient does not have a sufficient amount of bone to place an implant, a bone graft may be necessary prior to implant placement. The amount of available bone is determined through the use of the diagnostic records. Dr. Schoenenberger will explain any additional procedures necessary prior to implant placement.
If you have a budget concern, please discuss this with the doctor prior to his planning out your treatment. The doctor will design the best possible outcome for your desires and budget.
How Long Will a Dental Implant Last?
Modern dental implants have been maintained in individual cases for more than twenty years. An implant, although made of metal, still requires continued care after placement. This includes patient home care and professional maintenance. The life of the implant varies with factors of patient health (diabetes, HIV, metabolic bone disease), patient habits (smoking, oral hygiene) and structural overload.
It is impossible to predict exactly how long an implant will last, therefore it is impossible to predict or guarantee success. If an implant fails it may be replaced, however the prosthesis (overdenture/crowns) will need to be remade. It is not uncommon to have success rates over 95% in the field of dental implants.
A key to implant success is the quantity and quality of the bone where the implant is to be placed. The upper back jaw has traditionally been one of the most difficult areas to successfully place dental implants due to insufficient bone quantity and quality, and the close proximity to the sinus. Sinus bone grafting can help correct this problem by raising the sinus floor and developing bone for the placement of dental implants.
Deformities in the upper or lower jaw can leave you with inadequate bone in which to place dental implants. To correct the problem, the gum is lifted away from the ridge to expose the bony defect. The defect is then filled with bone or bone substitute to build up the ridge. Ridge grafting modification has been shown to greatly improve appearance and increase your chances for successful implants that can last for years to come.
The area of the jaw bone that holds a tooth in place is called a tooth socket. After a tooth has been removed, the bone that supported this tooth rapidly begins to melt (resorb) away. When a periodontal implant surgeon knows that a dental implant will later be placed into this area, a socket preservation grafting procedure is performed to reduce the bone loss in the socket.
When a periodontal implant surgeon removes a tooth, it is done as gently as possible. In many cases a tooth can beremoved gently using newly invented instruments called periotomes. Rather than using a great deal of force with dental pliers (forceps), the periotomes are pushed between the tooth root and bone so that the bone is gently pushed away from the tooth root. The tooth then comes out.
After the tooth is gently removed, donor bone is inserted into the tooth socket during the socket preservation grafting procedure. The patient's body uses this donor bone to completely fill the tooth socket, and have less bone loss (height and width). The socket preservation grafting procedure is done immediately after removal of a tooth.
There is a waiting period of four to six months after tooth removal before a dental implant is placed into the old tooth's position. Socket preservation grafting is done to conserve the bone in the area of the jaw that a dental implant will be placed.
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