Crowns and conventional bridges or dentures may not be your only options when replacing missing teeth. For some people, dental implants offer a smile that looks and feels very natural. Surgically placed below the gums over a series of appointments, implants fuse to the jawbone and serve as a base for individual replacement teeth, bridges or a denture.
Implants offer stability because they fuse to your bone. Integration of the implants into your jaw also helps your replacement teeth feel more natural and some people also find the secure fit more comfortable than conventional substitutes.
Candidates for dental implants need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. A thorough evaluation by your dentist will help determine whether you are a good candidate for dental implants.
Single Tooth Implants
Tooth LossAside from embarrassment and difficulty speaking and chewing, tooth loss causes the underlying bone to recede. Bone loss can cause lack of support for dentures, which causes discomfort, mobility and lack of retention. Continued loss of bone in the jaw can cause a sunken, aged appearance.
Healed BoneThe implant site requires sufficient bone in order for the procedure to be successful. The tooth socket may need treatment before an implant can be placed. Bone grafting is necessary if the socket has not healed properly or the bony ridge that supports the tooth is thin. People with very large or low sinus cavities may require bone grafting or augmentation as well.
Implant PlacedThe implant process begins with the patient made comfortable using local or intravenous anesthesia. An incision is then made into the gum tissue. A socket is gently created in the jawbone and the implant is carefully inserted into the socket. The surgeon may close the incision with sutures if necessary.
Healing CapDepending on the patient's needs, the healing cap can be placed at the time the implant is inserted. Sometimes the surgeon waits for the area around the implant to heal, then the implant is uncovered and a healing cap is placed.
AbutmentIn time, the healing cap is removed and an abutment is attached to the implant. (The final restoration will ultimately be attached to the abutment.) A temporary crown may be worn at this point.
Implant RestoredAlthough a healing phase of about six months is required before the implant can be restored with a new crown, impressions for the replacement teeth are made at the time of surgery. The restorative phase is very detail oriented and is performed by a restorative dentist, who creates and places the final restoration (either fixed or removable.)
SolutionDental implants are the most realistic tooth replacements available. Implants begin with a surgically placed post that is securely anchored into the jawbone. The bone surrounding the anchor will heal in approximately six months. With a completely solid and stable anchor point, an artificial tooth is then installed. The end result is a new artificial tooth that is virtually indistinguishable from a natural tooth, both from an aesthetic and functional standpoint. In cases where several teeth are missing, dental implants can also act as the teeth to which bridges are fixed, again perfectly mimicking the function of healthy, natural teeth.
AlternativesDentures may be considered if the financial burden of dental implants it too great.
Dr. Robert Moulton
Dr. Paul Modic
Dr. Julie Murphy
Refresh Dental - Wexford
9758 Perry Hwy
Wexford, PA 15090
Phone: (412) 635-9355