What are dental implants?
Dental implants are an increasingly popular method for replacing missing teeth. In this procedure, titanium supports are surgically fused with your jawbone, and act as an anchor for naturally looking false teeth. Dental implants are not only used for individual tooth replacement, but can also be used when replacing multiple teeth as an alternative or adjunct to dentures.
Advantages of dental implants
- Implants are extremely natural looking
- Fusion of the implants into your jaw make them very stable and natural feeling
- Chewing function is restored to near-natural levels
- No need to remove tooth structure from adjacent teeth
- They have a very good long-term prognosis
Disadvantages of dental implants
- Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants
- The process of getting implants can be time consuming and requires multiple visits to the dentist
- There is a chance there surgery fails (roughly 5% of the time)
Am I a candidate for dental implants?
In order to determine if you are a candidate for dental implants, the dentist will take a 3D x-ray known as a Cone Beam CT. This image allows the dentist to visual your jaw bone from all angles and take measures to determine if sufficient healthy bone exists to successfully place an implant. If you are a candidate, this image also allows the dentist to plan the length and diameter of the implant that would be most suitable for the missing tooth space. The dentist will plan implant angulation prior to the day of treatment to achieve ideal implant positioning to promote long-term success.
At times additional procedures are needed to allow for implant placement. Very commonly, bone grafting is completed in conjunction with dental implant placement to increase the amount of supportive bone. At times, in order to place dental implants in the upper molar region, a sinus lift is performed. If insufficient bone exist in this area, the floor of the sinus is bumped upward and bone grafting is used to fill in the space and create more support for the dental implant.
What does the treatment involve?
Dental implants are an excellent replacement option for missing teeth. They can be placed at the same time as a tooth extraction or after the jaw has healed following an extraction. The dentist will decide which time is best for your specific circumstance to achieve the best outcome. The general timeline and steps of dental implant treatment is as follows:
- Implant Placement:
- Suture Removal: 4 weeks after Implant Placement
- Implant Integration Verification and Impression: 4-5 months after implant Placement
- Final Crown Placement: 3 weeks after Impression
- Total Treatment Time: 5-6 months*
* If a tooth needs to be extracted first and the dental implant cannot be placed at the same time, an additional 3-4 months may be required. Also, certain underlying health concerns may slow healing times, resulting in longer than normal treatment timeline.