Dental Implants: The Artificial Tooth Root Replacement
If you’re missing one or more teeth, dental implants may be the solution you’re looking for. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is used in prosthetic dentistry to support restorations that resemble a tooth or a group of teeth. In this article, we’ll discuss what dental implants are and how they work.
Types of Dental Implants
There are several types of dental implants available in the market, but the most successful and widely accepted is the osseointegrated implant. This type of implant is based on the discovery by Swedish Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark that titanium can be successfully fused into bone when osteoblasts grow on and into the rough surface of the implanted titanium. Other types of implants include implant-supported bridges or implant-supported dentures.
The Implant Procedure
The implant procedure is typically performed as an outpatient surgery under general anesthesia or local anesthesia by trained and certified clinicians, including general dentists, oral surgeons, and periodontists. The most common treatment plan calls for several surgeries over a period of months, especially if bone augmentation is needed to support implant placements. However, some patients can be implanted and restored in a single surgery, in a procedure labeled “immediate function” and “teeth in an hour.”
The Implant Itself
A typical implant consists of a titanium screw with a roughened surface that resembles a tooth root. This surface is treated either by plasma spraying, etching, or sandblasting to increase the integration potential of the implant. An osteotomy or precision hole is carefully drilled into the jawbone, and the implant is installed in the osteotomy.
The Implant Healing Process
Healing and integration of the implant(s) with the jawbone occurs over several months in a process called osseointegration. At the appropriate time, the restorative or cosmetic dentist or prosthodontist uses the implant(s) to anchor crowns or a prosthetic restoration containing several “teeth”. Since the implants supporting the restoration are integrated, the patient is immediately able to chew normally.
What to Expect During the Implant Procedure
During the actual surgery, any teeth, if required, are removed, implants are placed in the jaw bone, and your temporary, non-removable full-set of teeth are attached. This full set of teeth is called the provisional, which is designed to be a template for the final restoration and allows you to leave the office with new, functioning teeth the day of surgery. After the healing and maturing phase, the final prosthesis (set of teeth) is permanently attached, and the doctor will give a final evaluation of your bite and aesthetics.
Who is a Candidate for Dental Implants?
If you’re missing one or more teeth and would like to explore dental implants, make an appointment to see us. We will assess your suitability and whether you have sufficient bone mass. If not, we will perform a bone graft. Call our office today. Dental implants can provide a long-lasting, natural-looking solution for missing teeth, so don’t wait to explore your options.