Dental implants will have a tremendous impact on the lives of our patients, whether it be to replace one tooth or to replace all the teeth in a patient’s arch. It is without a doubt that dental implants have transformed the dental profession as this technique provides us with so many more possibilities in replacing missing teeth.
The surgical and restorative procedures have also changed tremendously. For example, in replacing one tooth, the previous surgical protocol was to extract the tooth, perform bone grafting to preserve the bone and then return four to six months later, placing implant and waiting another three to six months before restoring the implant.
Today, in certain situations, the surgical protocol is to place the implant and a fixed temporary tooth at the time of extraction. The reason for this is not so much addressing the issue of lost bone but rather preserving the gum tissue. This is essential for maximizing the aesthetics of the restoration. This technique also avoids the necessity of a patient wearing a removable appliance for many months.
The concept of immediate load is another example of the changes in implant dentistry. What this means is that in certain situations, it is now possible to place six to eight implants in a patient’s arch. This is usually in a situation where a patient has a complete denture. These implants are immediately loaded with a temporary fixed bridge at the same time. In this situation, the patient is not required to wear a removable appliance. In the past, the protocol was to place the implants, wait three to six months, and then begin the process of building the prostheses. This new method takes the patient directly from a removable situation to a fixed situation on the same day. The dental literature clearly shows us that the success rate of the dental implants is the same in both situations. This process is commonly called Teeth-in-a-day.
Another example of this is to simply place two or three dental implants in a patient that has a complete denture. This will stabilize the denture and bring back the full function of the bite. This allows the patient to resume some of the simple pleasures of life such as biting in an apple, enjoying a steak or just not having to worry about shifting teeth. The impact we see on our patients’ lives on a daily basis makes our work truly gratifying.
Dental Implant Procedure
Dental implants are clearly the preferred treatment option for missing teeth. By replacing the root with a titanium post, we are able to protect the jaw against bone loss. We can perform grafting procedures to encourage regrowth when bone loss has already occurred. This will create a healthier, more functional, and cosmetic result. Implants provide a strong foundation for both fixed or removable replacement teeth.
The placement and restoration of dental implants offers many more benefits when compared to the other teeth replacement alternatives that it is almost always the optimal course of treatment.
Implant Supported Crowns
A single tooth dental implant begins with a titanium post that is placed in the jawbone. We will attach a permanent replacement tooth to the implant once we are sure that the bone and implant have fused together. The result is a long-term solution for a missing tooth that both restores function and appearance.
Implant Supported Bridges
When three or more adjacent teeth need to be replaced, implant-supported bridges are an option. An implant-supported bridge is supported by two or more dental implants rather than placing single tooth dental implants for each missing tooth. These implants serve as abutments that will hold a porcelain or zirconium bridge in place.
Implant Supported Dentures
In situations where all or most teeth are missing, implant-supported dentures may be a cost-effective alternative to replacing each individual missing tooth with its own implant. Implant supported dentures typically use two or more dental implants to secure a partial or full arch denture in place. With implant-supported dentures, patients are not concerned about their dentures slipping or having to apply messy adhesives each morning.
Today it is possible in some cases to place the implants and restore them immediately with a temporary bridge in the same appointment.
The Benefits and Importance of Dental Implants
There is no doubt that implants are the best solution for simulating the look, feel, and function of natural teeth. Dental implants do much more than just replace missing teeth. They also help to maintain and strengthen bone structure, provide the additional ability to chew healthy food, and give patients the confidence to smile. In addition, they also protect existing teeth by helping to preserve bone structure.