Dental implants are changing the way people live. Dental implants are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth which look, feel and function like natural teeth. Dental implants are a comfortable, safe and long-term replacement for removable dentures and fixed bridges. Not everyone is a candidate for implants. For people with good oral health, replacing a tooth with a dental implant is an ideal option. We will inform you about the different factors that determine whether or not you are a candidate for an implant. Factors like pre-existing disease and bone loss and the health of other teeth can affect a patient’s ability to receive a dental implant.
Dental implants, designed to replace single or multiple teeth, are small titanium posts that are inserted into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors act as tooth root substitutes. They are surgically placed into the jawbone and become mechanically anchored in the jawbone, independent of other teeth. This process usually takes two to six months. Because dental implants become integrated in the jawbone, they create a strong foundation for artificial teeth and bone loss is controlled. Dental implants are therefore natural looking, comfortable and permanent.
Small extensions, called abutments, are attached to the dental implant, which protrude through the gum. These abutments provide stable anchors for artificial replacement teeth. Dental implants also help preserve facial structure, preventing bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.
Dental implants have an overall success rate of about 95% and almost 50 years of clinical research to back them up, dental implants are frequently the best treatment option for replacing missing teeth.
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants. Whether you are a young, middle-aged or older adult; whether you need to replace one tooth, several teeth, or all your teeth, there may be a dental implant solution for you. With the exception of growing children, dental implants can benefit people of all ages – even those with existing health concerns such as high blood pressure and diabetes are usually successful candidates for dental implant treatment. Although smoking can lower the success rate of implants, it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of getting dental implants. Bone loss is not uncommon for people who have lost teeth or had periodontal/gum disease. Procedures to replace missing bone can often be done prior to the placement of a dental implant.
Dental implant replacement in children is usually deferred until their jaw growth is complete. There are, however, some instances when a dental implant may be part of the child’s orthodontic treatment plan. We can guide you in this instance.
Dental implant placement is a smooth procedure that involves the cooperation of you and the oral health care team that will provide you with a beautiful, natural looking and functioning replacement tooth.
Your dental implant team is typically composed of you, your general dentist and us (the oral surgeon) who will place the dental implant.
The process begins with a thorough clinical examination and a review of preexisting health issues, as well as a review of the medications that you are currently taking. We will select the best imaging study to determine essential information about the jawbone and its anatomy, and to assist in the development of your dental implant treatment plan. You are a key member of the team, and all aspects of your case will be discussed with you and your general dentist before the procedure is scheduled. Once we are all comfortable with the plan and preparations are in place, your surgery is scheduled.
Dental implant placement can take from 40 minutes for one implant to several hours for more involved cases with multiple dental implants.
If indicated, you may be prescribed antibiotics prior to surgery. In addition, we may recommend sedation with intravenous anesthesia. We will discuss the type of anesthesia most appropriate for your needs prior to the procedure. You may be certain that every effort will be made to minimize your anxiety and discomfort during and after the procedure.
After you are anesthetized, an incision will be made in the gum tissue to place a precisely located hole in the bone where a dental implant will be inserted. The dental implant(s) are inserted in the hole(s), the gum tissue is repositioned over or around the dental implant(s) and sutures (stitches) are placed. Healing abutments may be placed on top of the dental implants that will minimally protrude through the gum tissue. An x-ray will be taken after insertion to confirm the dental implant position.
Following surgery and anesthetic recover, you will be given post-operative instructions prior to leaving the office.
A number of factors, including your general health and oral hygiene contribute to the time it takes the site to heal. In addition, patients taking certain medications may require more time to heal.
Bone and Tissue Grafting
Over a period of time the jawbone associated with missing teeth atrophies or shrinks. This often leaves a condition in which there is poor quality and quantity of bone suitable for placement of dental implants.
Today, we often have the ability to replace missing bone where needed. This not only gives us the opportunity to place dental implants of proper length and width, it also gives us a chance to restore functionality and aesthetic appearance. There are several bone and tissue grafting options available, and we will be happy to discuss the best option for you.
Bone and Tissue Grafting Procedures
Bone grafting can repair implant sites with inadequate bone structure due to previous extractions, gum disease or injuries. The bone is either obtained from a tissue bank or your own bone can be taken from the jaw, hip or tibia (below the knee). Bone grafting procedures can be performed in the upper and lower jaw. Specific recommendations for your individual needs will be discussed with you. Techniques used are patient and location specific and will be explained in detail.
Taking Care of Your Dental Implants
As the patient, you have a vested interest in achieving the best possible outcome for your dental implant procedure. Once we complete your dental implant procedure, you can begin to enjoy the many pleasures that having strong, secure teeth can bring. The following are some tips for keeping your dental implants in top condition:
- Floss, brush and maintain good oral hygiene throughout and following the dental implant process.
- Continue regular check-ups with your general dentist.
- Keep all appointments with us and your general dentist.
- Practice meticulous oral hygiene according to the instructions provided by us, your general dentist and/or hygienist.
- Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as well as chewing hard foods like ice or hard candy, may damage your dental implants or cause them to fail.
- Contact us or your general dentist if you experience any problems.
Sinus Lift Procedure
The maxillary sinuses are behind the cheeks and above the upper teeth. Some of the roots of the natural upper teeth may extend up into the maxillary sinuses. When these upper teeth are removed, there is often just a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. Dental implants need bone to hold them in place. When the sinus wall is very thin, it is impossible to place dental implants in this bone. There is a solution and it is called a sinus graft or sinus lift. The dental implant surgeon enters the sinus from where the upper teeth used to be. The sinus membrane is then lifted upward and the bone graft is inserted into the floor of the sinus. After several months of healing, the bone becomes part of the patient’s jaw and dental implants can be inserted and stabilized in this new sinus bone.
The bone graft makes it possible for many patients to have dental implants when years ago there was no other option then wearing loose dentures.
If enough bone between the upper jaw ridge and the bottom of the sinus is available to stabilize the implant well, sinus augmentations and dental implant placement can sometimes be performed as a single procedure. If not enough bone is available, the Sinus Augmentation will have to be performed first, then the graft will have to mature for several months, depending upon the type of bone graft material used. Once the bone graft has matured, the dental implants can be placed.
In severe cases, the ridge has been reabsorbed and a bone graft is placed to increase ridge height and/or width. This is a technique used to restore the lost bone dimension when the jaw ridge is too thin to place conventional dental implants. In this procedure, the boney ridge of the jaw is literally expanded by mechanical means. Bone graft material can be placed and allowed to mature for a few months before placing the dental implant.
This refers to a specific application of bone grafting that attempts to prevent the loss of bone that normally follows the removal of a tooth. At the time of tooth removal, if immediate dental implant placement is not appropriate, the resulting socket is filled with bone grafting material and covered with a protective dressing. Our doctors will recommend the most appropriate bone product for this procedure. Filling the socket with bone in this manner dramatically delays the normal bone resorption process that would occur at an extraction site. It also hastens the process of bone maturation at the site, thus allowing the placement of a dental implant sooner than would be possible if the socket was left to heal without the benefit of the added bone. This procedure is very successful in preserving the ridge of the bone that is necessary for dental implant placement—hence the term “ridge preservation.” Postoperative recovery following this procedure is usually no more complicated than that following removal of a tooth without bone grafting.
A method for tooth replacement referred to as All-on-four (4) treatment – also known as a Screw Retained Denture, can be beneficial for replacing unhealthy teeth or removable dentures with a permanent (non-removable) hybrid dental bridge supported by 4 or more implants. In some case your replacement teeth can be attached to the implants the same day of the implant insertion. The All-on-four (4) treatment was developed as an alternative for patients that had been traditionally viewed as non-candidates for this type of treatment because they didn’t have enough jawbone structure to support dental implants. Our surgeons and your dentist will consult with you to determine your specific condition and will create a treatment plan tailored to meet your needs that will get your teeth more functional.
While success rates do vary depending on the individual patients, dental implants have an overall 95 percent success rate. In fact, most of the first dental implants placed about 20 years ago in the United States are sill in use and performing well. Compare this with fixed bridges, which have an 85 percent success rate for 10 years and 66 percent success rate for 15 years. Furthermore, your dental implants can last a lifetime, while fixed bridges generally need to be replaced every seven to fifteen years.
The Cost of Dental Implant Surgery
Before proceeding with your dental implant treatment plan, we will provide you with a cost estimate covering all necessary aspects of the surgical and restorative procedures relating to your case. These estimates should include diagnostic tests and work-up, bone and soft tissue grafting procedures, and dental implant placements. The restorative portion of your care, temporary restorations, impressions and fabrication costs for the final prosthetic crown(s), and the office visits required to provide a good fit, proper bite and esthetic appearance will be quoted separated by your general dentist.
In the long- and short-term, dental implants are cost effective options for replacing your missing teeth. Unlike conventional dentures and bridges that are usually replaced several times, your dental implants should continue to function well for 20 years or more. Clearly something to smile about!
While there is no guarantee of 100% success, with careful planning between our office and your general dentist prior to surgery, and proper self-maintenance, you can expect many years of use from your dental implants. Thousands of people have rediscovered the joy of eating properly, speaking clearly and laughing comfortably through the use of dental implants.
Post-Surgical Side Effects
- Swelling is normal with any surgical procedure and should peak within 48-72 hours, before gradually subsiding. If swelling worsens after 72 hours, contact us at (520) 745-6531.
- Bruising occasionally develops near the surgical site and should disappear within several days following surgery.
- Mild to moderate discomfort may be experienced for 24 to 72 hours after dental implant surgery, and pain medication may be required. If intense pain persists that cannot be relieved by prescribed pain medication, contact us at (520) 745-6531.
- Stiffness of the jaw muscles may be caused by swelling following dental implant surgery. As the swelling decreases, stiffness should disappear.
- Infection is very rare following dental implant surgery, but may occur occasionally. If fever, persistent swelling, pain or drainage develops, contact us at (520) 745-6531.
- Numbness or a tingling sensation in the lower lip, tongue, cheek, chin, gums or teeth is rare but can occur if dental implants are placed in the lower jaw and a nearby nerve is irritated. Typically, this is temporary, although in very rare cases it can be permanent.
- Sinus complications, such as drainage or pain, may rarely occur if dental implants are placed in the upper jaw adjacent to the sinus. Sinus symptoms should be reported to us as soon as possible.
- Bleeding may occur following dental implant surgery, but should be easily controlled and consist of occasional oozing during the first 24 to 48 hours. In the rare instance that bleeding is excessive or prolonged, contact us immediately.
- Bone loss is rare, but may occur around the dental implant if proper hygiene is not maintained or if excessive stress is placed on the dental implant.
- Although rare, there is always a possibility that a dental implant may fail. This may be caused by a number of factors, including the failure of the dental implant to fuse with the bone, inadequate cleaning or maintenance by the patient, too much mechanical stress on the dental implant or by smoking tobacco or excessive alcohol consumption.