Did you know that millions of Americans suffer from tooth loss? Until several years ago, the only option for those who suffered from tooth loss were bridges or dentures. Now many people opt to have dental implants done. Some may not be very familiar with what a dental implant is. Dental implants are essentially replacement tooth roots. They are posts that are surgically positioned into your jawbone, underneath your gums. Putting these posts into place allow your dentist to then put your replacement teeth in.
Dental implants are made of a titanium alloy that literally fuses to the jaw bone. Implant surgery may take 1 procedure to complete, but sometimes more procedures are needed.
1. If there is not adequate bone for implant placement, then bone grafting may be needed. Graft material is generally taken from donor tissue banks, and does not require bone harvest from the patient. Once grafting has been done, the graft will take several months to heal. The goal of this procedure is to create bone for an implant to go in to.
2. If there is adequate bone (or if grafting is complete), the implant may be placed into the jaw bone. If the implant is stable and the bone quality is good, then we may be able to place the “healing abutment” on the implant at the time of implant placement. The healing abutment creates the connection from the implant to the mouth. Once the implant is placed, it undergoes osseointegration (this is where the implant fuses to the bone). Osseointegration typically takes a few months.
3. If we are unable to place the “healing abutment” when we place the implant, we place it after the implant is through with osseointegration. This is a simple procedure typically done with local anesthesia (numbing). The gums are remove from the very top of the implant, and the healing abutment is placed. This will allow your general dentist access to place the crown (prosthetic tooth) on the implant.
There are many benefits to having dental implants which include:
- Improved comfort
- Improved appearance
- Better oral health
- Easier eating