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dental implants

information on procedures

     
   
     

Dental implants are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth which look, feel and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved. Patients with dental implants can smile with confidence.

What are Dental Implants?

The implants themselves are tiny titanium posts, which are inserted into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These 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 artificial teeth. Small posts are then attached to the implant, which protrude through the gums. These posts provide stable anchors for artificial replacement teeth.

Implants also help preserve facial structure, preventing bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing. When you lose a tooth, your body gradually removes the bone that held it in also. This can be reversed surgically with bone grafting.

The Surgical Procedure

For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures. First, implants are placed within your jawbone. For the first four to six months following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums gradually bonding with the jawbone. You should be able to wear temporary dentures or temporary bridgework and eat a soft diet during this time.

After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. Dr. Vitale will uncover the implants and attach small posts, which will help shape the gum like a tooth is growing there. These posts protrude through the gums. When the artificial teeth are placed, your dentist will remove these posts to place the crowns or restorations. The entire procedure usually takes six to eight months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.

Who actually performs the implant placement?

Implants are a team effort between an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and a Restorative Dentist.

While Dr. Vitale 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 (replacement teeth). Your dentist will also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process.

What types of prostheses are available?

A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth - each prosthetic tooth attaches to its own implant. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) can replace two or more teeth and may require only 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 and the strength/shape of your jaw bone.

A removable prosthesis (over-denture) attaches to a bar or ball in socket attachments, whereas a fixed prosthesis is permanent and removable only by the dentist.

Why would you select dental implants over more traditional types of restorations?

There are several reasons: Why sacrifice the structure of surrounding good teeth to bridge a space? In addition, removing a denture or a “partial” at night may be inconvenient, not to mention that dentures that slip can be uncomfortable and rather embarrassing. Also, implants help preserve your jaw bone shape and size, while bridgework does not.

Are you a candidate for implants?

If you are considering implants, your mouth must be examined thoroughly and your medical and dental history reviewed. If you mouth is not ideal for implants, ways of improving outcome, such as bone grafting, may be recommended.

What type of anesthesia is used?

The majority of dental implants and bone graft can be performed in the office under local anesthesia. All anesthesia techniques are available for this type of procedure.

Do Implants need special care?

Once the implants are in place, they will serve you well for many years if you take care of them and keep your mouth healthy. This means taking the time for good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) and keeping regular appointments with your dentist. Implants can not get decay, but could suffer gum disease like any other tooth.