A dental implant is a titanium metal replacement for a root of a tooth that is surgically implanted in the jawbone by a specially trained implant dentist or oral surgeon. As the body heals for approximately two to six months after the surgery, the bone around the implant fuses to the implant through a process called osseointegration. After the healing phase is complete, the implants are used to anchor crowns, bridges, or dentures. Dental implants are the most natural replacement for a missing tooth.
What does the implant dentist do?
The process should begin with a thorough evaluation of the patient’s medical and dental history, and a full clinical examination of the entire mouth and missing tooth area by your dentist. The clinical exam should also include specific X-rays. After assessing the patient, a comprehensive treatment plan can be devised. From that point, implants are surgically placed in the jawbone under local anesthesia. The length of the healing time is based on the quality and quantity of bone, as well as the type of implant placed. After adequate healing is allowed to occur, the implant can be used to support a crown, bridge, or denture.
What happens if the dental implant fails to fuse to the jawbone?
If an implant fails to bond to bone, another implant can immediately be put in its place, usually of a slightly larger diameter. In situations where another implant cannot be immediately placed, the area is allowed to heal for a few months and then another one can be put in the same place.
How many implants should be placed?
This is a question that should be determined during the treatment plan. A good rule-of-thumb is to place one implant for each tooth replaced. Other decisive factors for the number of implants needed for success is the quality and quantity of the patient’s bone. Equally as important are the existing anatomy of the bone and the financial resources of the patient.
Placing enough implants to restore teeth is vitally important to the long-term success of the restoration. Simply stated, the most costly mistake is to have an implant fail because not enough implants are placed to support the teeth. If the number of implants is limited due to financial constraints of the patient, then the implant treatment should be avoided or the type of restoration must be altered.
When you are more knowledgeable about your implant treatment, you will be able to have more input to give your dentist and better your chances of a successful treatment outcome.
Single Missing Tooth Problem:
You’re missing a single tooth. Until recently your only options were limited: a fixed bridge or a removable partial denture — which meant removing enamel from adjoining teeth. It was a very short list.
Single Missing Tooth Solution:
Thanks to modern dentistry techniques, single tooth implants are now a good alternative. Although most patients use tooth implants to replace an ill-fitting denture, or to bridge a large gap of several missing teeth, it’s now possible for you to have a single tooth replacement.
You’re a good candidate for single tooth implants if you are in good health and the jawbone where the tooth implant will be fitted has not receded. You have to be of age, since your facial growth must be complete.
There are many advantages to this procedure. Single tooth implants are strong. Unlike dentures, they require less care. And the implants look and feel natural. So instead of being embarrassed by a missing tooth, you’ll have something to smile about.
Placing Dental Implants
To place the implants, the surgeon first will make an incision (cut) in your gums to expose the bone. He or she then will drill a hole in the bone and place the implant in the hole. The surgeon probably will take an X-ray of the area to make sure the implant is where it should be. The surgeon will then stitch your gum closed over the implant.
The time required for this procedure depends on:
- The number of implants
- Whether or not you get a bone graft at the same time
In most cases, placing a single dental implant requires about one hour. You will feel some pain after this procedure. The level of discomfort depends on the person, but generally it has been described as relatively mild.
If the implant is placed in the front of your mouth, your dentist will give you a temporary denture or bridge so that you do not have to be without teeth. He or she will discuss options with you before the surgery.
After the surgery, your surgeon will give you antibiotics and pain medicine. You also will get instructions to follow. These will include:
- Don’t spit, suck on straws or smoke. This can dislodge blood clots and slow healing.
- Eat only soft food to avoid injuring your gums.
- Don’t try to clean the implant area for the next one to two weeks, but clean the rest of your mouth normally. Your dentist may give you an antibacterial rinse to help keep the area clean.
You will return to the surgeon 7 to 10 days later to have your stitches removed.
After the implant is placed in your jaw, you will have to wait several months for the bone to bond with the implant. This usually takes 3 or 4 months in the lower jaw and 5 or 6 months in the upper jaw. During this time, the head of the implant usually remains hidden under your gum.
CONTACT USJeff C. Jenkins, D.D.S. Richard Martin, D.D.S.
5601 Bridge St, Ste 480
Fort Worth, TX 76112
(817) 937-4369 Fax