An implant is a titanium "root" which can be placed into the jawbone. Once integrated with your bone, the implant can be used to support a crown, a bridge, or secure a complete denture. Dental implants may be used to eliminate partial plates and dentures. Implants have been used successfully for over thirty years, have a high success rate and function and feel like your natural teeth. Dental implants are now the standard of care for replacing missing teeth. Dental implant treatment represents a slightly greater investment than conventional treatment; however, the benefits of implant therapy for most patients outweigh the minor additional cost involved.
In many situations it is possible to remove the diseased and/or loose teeth and replace them with dental implants at the same time. In almost all situations simultaneous bone grafting is completed. This method of treatment reduces the number of surgical visits. It also speeds up the entire process enabling the implants to be ready to receive (caps/crowns) more quickly.
There are actually two phases to implant dentistry.
Phase 1: Using very accurate surgical techniques, an incision is made in the gum tissues and implants are placed into dimensionally controlled sites (depth and width) in the jawbone.
First, the gum tissue is opened and the jaw bone is tapped with a small drill and then drilled with a wider drill. The implant is inserted into place. The gum tissues are then closed and the healing phase begins. This may take anywhere from 3-6 months to ensure a strong base.
Phase 2: An abutment is secured to the top of the implant placing a new tooth crown onto the implant abutment. Implants can replace a single tooth, several teeth or your dentures.
This prosthesis is used in special situations for patients who have enough bone in the anterior regions of the lower or upper jaws, but limited amount of bone in the posterior regions and are not candidates for extensive bone grafting.
Before making the decision in going the implant route, ask yourself if there is another option. There are many different implant alternatives.
The different alternative options to implants that other dentists may provide are:
- Tooth Supported Bridge
- Removable Partial Denture
- No Treatment