Dental implants are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide foundation for replacement teeth, which look, feel and function like natural teeth. The patient who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything, knowing that teeth appear natural and facial contours will be preserved. Patients with dental implants can smile with confidence.
Once you learn about dental implants, you finally realize there is a way to improve your life. When you lose several teeth – whether it’s a new situation or something you have lived with for years – chances are you have never become fully accustomed to losing such a vital part of yourself.
The implants themselves are tiny titanium posts, which are inserted into the jawbone where teeth are missing. The metal anchors act as tooth root substitutes. They are surgically placed into the jawbone. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for the teeth. This bonding process is called osseointegration. Small posts are then attached to the implant, which protrude through the gum. These posts provide stable anchors for the artificial replacement teeth or (prosthetics).
A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth – each prosthetic attaches to its own implant. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) can replace two or more teeth and may require two or three implants. A complete dental prosthesis (fixed bridge) replaces all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. The number of implants varies depending upon which type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended. A removable prosthesis (overdenture) attaches to a bar or ball-in-socket attachments, whereas a fixed prosthesis is permanent solution and removable only by a dentist.
Dr. Mark performs in-office implant surgery in a hospital-style operating suite, thus optimizing the level of sterility. In-patient hospital implant surgery is for patients who have special medical or anesthetic needs or for those who need extensive bone grafting from the jaw, hip or tibia. This is the process of harvesting autologous bone.
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Dr. Mark is able to place single-stage implants. These implants do not require a second procedure to uncover them, but do require a minimum of six weeks healing time before artificial teeth (prosthesis) can be placed. There are even situations where the implants can be placed at the same time as a tooth extraction – further minimizing the number of surgical procedures. Advances in dental implant technology have made it possible, in select cases, to extract teeth and place implants with crowns at one visit. This procedure is called “immediate loading.” This type of procedure simplifies and reduces the surgical processes.
Implants are typically a team effort between an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. While Dr. Mark performs the actual implant surgery, and initial tooth extractions and bone grafting if necessary, the restorative dentist (your dentist) fits and makes the permanent prosthesis. Your dentist will also make you any temporary prosthesis during the implant process.
For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures. First, the implants are placed within your jawbone. For the first six months following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gum gradually bonding with the jawbone. You should be able to wear dentures and eat a soft diet during this time period. At the same time, you’re forming new teeth.
After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. Dr. Mark will uncover the implants and attach small posts, which will act as anchors for the artificial teeth. These posts protrude through the gums. When the artificial teeth are placed, these posts will not be seen. The entire procedure usually takes six to eight months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.