Dental Implants

If you are missing one or more teeth or are bothered by dentures or partials that slip, dental implants may be right for you! Besides the obvious cosmetic inconvenience of missing teeth, additional oral and general health problems may result when teeth are not replaced. Missing teeth can result in "tooth extrusion" or movement of another tooth into the empty space. Shifting or movement of adjacent teeth that occurs when tooth roots are not present may require additional orthodontic treatment to correct. Because of the misalignment that occurs due to shifting of teeth, the teeth may be more susceptible to decay and gum disease, eventually causing more tooth loss. Missing teeth can also decrease chewing ability and may also affect speech.

If your upper jaw or lower jaw is "edentulous" meaning all the teeth in that jaw are missing, "bone resorption" will occur in that jaw. The body "resorbs" the jawbone that used to surround the roots, causing the bone to "shrink". This frequently causes problems for denture wearers because as the jawbone shrinks, their dentures become loose and don't fit properly. When dental implants are used to support a denture or replace missing teeth, jawbone loss is reduced or eliminated.

What is a Dental Implant?
Natural teeth are stable biting and chewing surfaces because the tooth roots are firmly anchored and supported by the surrounding jawbone. Dental implants function much the same way. Implants are tooth root substitutes that look, feel and function much like the roots of natural teeth. Dental implants can replace a single missing tooth, several missing teeth or all of your missing teeth.
Studies have shown dental implants to have a high rate of success, and can last for many years when cared for properly.
The implant itself is a tiny metal cylinder that is surgically inserted in the jawbone and functions as the replacement root for one or more artificial (called prosthetic) teeth. There are many different types of dental implants. Your surgeon will choose the one that best suits your particular situation.
The material used for the dental implant is biocompatible, meaning it is well accepted by the body. Over time, the jawbone surrounding the implant grows into the implant surfaces and attaches to the implant, anchoring it firmly in place. This process of bone attachment is known as "osseointegration".
A single tooth implant involves three separate parts: the implant root, the post that supports the artificial tooth (known as the abutment) and the prosthetic tooth. The artificial tooth or crown may be cemented onto the post or held in place with a tiny screw. Because they are stronger than natural tooth roots, several missing teeth can often be replaced with fewer implants.
Endosteal implants can provide a method for anchoring an upper or lower denture, for replacing a full or partial denture with fixed bridgework, or can replace a single missing tooth.

The Implant Procedure:
For most people, placing dental implants involves two surgical procedures and one or more restorative visits to place your new teeth. On your first visit, the implants are placed in your jawbone where your tooth roots used to be. Over the next three to six months, the jawbone grows into the implant, anchoring it firmly in place. At your next visit, your surgeon will uncover the implant and attach a small post used to support the artificial tooth. Once your new teeth are placed, these posts will not be seen.

Can you benefit from Dental Implants?
Dental implants can be used in people of all ages, however, you must be evaluated by your surgeon and restorative dentist to determine if you are a good candidate. Dental implants can improve the way you live. With dental implants, you will rediscover the comfort and confidence to eat, speak, laugh and smile!