What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a titanium-based post (similar to a screw) that is inserted surgically into your jawbone in order to replace the root portion of a missing tooth. It serves as a sturdy anchor for the future crown and abutment. A dental implant is an option that many patients choose to replace missing teeth. One tooth, several teeth, or all teeth on your upper and or lower jaws may be replaced with fixed dental implants. Implants may also be used in conjunction with a denture to improve stability and comfort of a denture.
A dental implant consists of 3 parts:
1. The dental implant “post” or screw- which is surgically placed into your jawbone (the part of the implant unit that is underneath your gum, surrounded by bone, therefore not visible).
2. The abutment- or internal connection between the implant the implant crown
3. The dental implant crown (the actual tooth portion of the implant that is visible)
Is a dental implant safe?
Again, a dental implant is made of titanium- a very common type of metal that is widely used in other medical specialties such as Orthopedics (joint or hip replacement surgeries), cardiology, and etc... Moreover, dental implants are biocompatible - in fact, dental implants have been reported to be about 90-95% successful over 10 years. Dental implants are strong and durable and will last many years. On occasion, their crown portions will have to be re-tightened or replaced due to normal wear.
Reasons for dental implants:
Replace one or more missing teeth without affecting adjacent teeth.
Resolve joint pain or bite problems caused by teeth shifting into missing tooth space.
Restore a patient’s confident smile.
Restore chewing, speech, and digestion.
Restore or enhance facial tissues.
Support a bridge or denture, making it more secure and comfortable.
What does getting dental implants involve?
The process of getting implants requires a number of visits over several months.
1. X-rays and sometimes impressions (molds) are taken of the jaw and teeth to determine bone, gum tissue, and spacing available for an implant.
2. While the area is numb, the implant will be surgically placed into the bone and allowed to heal and integrate itself for up to six months. Implants normally heal faster in the lower jaw compared to the upper jaw because of bone quality!
- If the bone is strong enough and the implant is stable when placed, a healing abutment will be placed in the same appointment. The healing abutment will look like a metal tube that penetrates past your gum.
-If a healing abutment is not placed at the time of implant placement, then a flat cover screw will be placed on top of the implant. The implant will have to heal first before the healing abutment can be placed at a later procedure called Uncovery Surgery (Phase 2).
3. After sufficient healing time for the implant, a second surgery known as an UNCOVERY surgery may be required to place the healing abutment. The healing abutment will look like a metal tube that penetrates past your gum. Recall that this procedure may have been done at the time of implant placement in Phase 1.
4. After the implant and healing abutment has healed sufficiently, the next phase is to take select the implant color and to take impressions of the implant, which are sent to the laboratory to create the Implant Final Abutment and Implant Crown. This Phase will be completed by your Restorative Dentist.
After about 3 weeks, the artificial crown is made by the laboratory and is now ready to be fitted to the implant “anchor” portion. Because several fittings may be required, this step may take one to two months to complete.
You will receive care instructions when your treatment is completed. Good oral hygiene and eating habits, alongside regular dental visits, will aid in the life of your new implant.
If you have questions about dental implants or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office.