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A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that a periodontist places into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Dental implants are an ideal option for people in good general oral health who have lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, an injury or some other reason. Dental implants are so natural-looking and feeling; you may forget you ever lost a tooth.
Under proper conditions, such as placement by a periodontist and diligent patient maintenance, implants can last a lifetime. Dental implants are intimately connected with the gum tissues and underlying bone in the mouth. Since periodontist are the dental experts who specialize in precisely these areas, they are ideal members of your dental implant team. Not only do periodontists have experience working with other dental professions, they also have the special knowledge, training and facilities that you need to have teeth that look and feel just like your own.
We will consult with your general dentist to determine where and how your implant should be placed. Depending on your specific condition and the type of implant chosen, we will create a treatment plan tailored to meet your needs.
Replacing a Single Tooth:
- A dental implant provides several advantages over other tooth replacement options. In addition to looking and functioning like a natural tooth, a dental implant replaces a single tooth without sacrificing the health of neighboring teeth. The other common treatment for the loss of a single tooth is a tooth supported fixed bridge. This requires that adjacent teeth be ground down to support the cemented bridge.
- Because dental implants will replace your tooth root, the bone is better preserved. With a bridge some of the bone that previously surrounded the tooth begins to resorb (deteriorate). Dental implants integrate with your bone helping to keep the bone healthy and intact.
- In the long term a single implant can be more esthetic and easier to keep clean than a bridge. Gums can recede around a bridge leaving a visible defect when the metal base of collar of the bridge becomes exposed. Resorbed bone beneath the bridge can lead to an unattractive smile and the cement holding the bridge in place can wash out allowing bacteria to decay the teeth that anchor the bridge.
How will the implant be placed?
The implant, which looks like a screw or cylinder, is placed into your jaw. Over the next four to six months the implant and the bone are allowed to bond together to form an anchor for your artificial tooth. During this time, a temporary tooth replacement option can be worn over the implant site.
A second step of the procedure is necessary to uncover the implant and attach an extension. This small metal post, which is called an abutment, completes the foundation on which your new tooth will be placed. Your gums will be allowed to heal for a couple of weeks following this procedure.
Finally, a replacement tooth called a crown will be created for you by your general dentist and attached to the abutment. After a short time, you will experience restored confidence in your smile and your ability to chew and speak. Dental implants are so natural looking and feeling you may forget you ever lost a tooth.
Replacing Several Teeth:
- Dental implants provide several advantages over other teeth replacement options. In addition to looking and functioning like natural teeth, implant supported bridges replace teeth without support from adjacent natural teeth. Other common treatments for the loss of several teeth, such as fixed bridges or removable partial dentures, are dependent on support from adjacent teeth.
- Because implant supported bridges will replace some of your tooth roots, your bone is better preserved. With a fixed bridge or removable partial denture, the bone that previously surrounded the tooth root may begin to resorb (deteriorate). Dental implants integrate with your bone, helping to keep the bone healthy and intact.
- In the long term implants are esthetic, functional and comfortable. Gums and bone can recede around a fixed bridge or removable partial denture leaving a visible defect. Resorbed bone beneath bridges or removable partial dentures can lead to a collapsed, unattractive smile. The cement holding bridges in place can wash out allowing bacteria to decay teeth that anchor the bridge. In addition, removable partial dentures can move around in the mouth and reduce your ability to eat certain foods.
How are Implants placed?
Implants, which look like screws or cylinders, are placed into your jaw. Then, over the next four to six months the implants and the bone are allowed to bond together to form anchors for your artificial teeth. During this time a temporary tooth/teeth replacement option can be worn over the implant site.
Often, a second step of the procedure is necessary to uncover the implants and attach extensions. These small metal posts, called abutments, along with various connecting devices that allow multiple crowns to attach to the implants, complete the foundation on which your new teeth will be placed. Your gums will be allowed to heal for a couple of weeks following this procedure.
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.
Depending upon the number of implants placed the connecting device that will hold your new teeth can be tightened down on the implant or it may be clipped to a bar or a round ball anchor to which a denture snaps on and off.
Finally, full bridges or full dentures will be created for you and attached to your implants or the connecting device. After a short time, you will experience restored confidence in your smile and your ability to chew and speak.