What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that acts as an anchor for replacement teeth. Implants are stable and permanent and are not reliant on neighboring teeth for support. They are an ideal tooth replacement procedure because they look and feel like natural teeth.
Implants are great for patients who are unable to wear dentures. Instead, the implant is placed directly into the jawbone to support permanently cemented bridges. Implants can be made from several different types of metallic and ceramic materials that are compatible with body tissue. When surgically anchored into the jawbone, the implant fuses with living bone in a process known as “osseointegration.”
Advantages of Dental Implants
Implant dentistry provides many advantages over dentures and bridges, including:
- Dental implants are preventive. They can prevent the bone loss and gum recession that often occurs with bridgework and dentures.
- Dental implants are cost effective. Since one tooth can be replaced, dental implants can actually cost less than traditional bridgework.
- Dental implants are conservative. Unlike traditional bridges, adjacent teeth are not needed to support the implant. This means that the adjacent teeth do not have to be ground down to support crowns like they do for conventional bridges. Your own natural teeth are not compromised.
- Dental implants are comfortable. Dental implants function very similar to your natural teeth and are comfortable and stable. This eliminates some of the key problems of dentures including poor fit, gum irritation and discomfort from nerve compression.
- Dental implants are reliable. Dental implants are highly predictable - there are no embarrassing prosthetics that slip or cause speech impediments.
- Dental implants are cosmetically aesthetic. Implant supported crowns look and feel like your own natural teeth.
- Dental implants are preservative. Missing teeth cause bone shrinkage, which can result in a receding jaw line and change in facial structure. Dental implants help prevent deterioration of the jawbone so the patient’s face retains its natural shape and appearance.
The Dental Implant Process
Implant procedures can be performed in the dental office with local anesthesia.
The actual implant procedure involves several steps:
1. The implant or implants are surgically placed into the jaw.
2. The jaw is allowed to heal for a period of up to six months. During this stage, the bone grows and bonds in and around the implant (this is also known as osseointegration). The dentist may create a temporary tooth replacement for the patient to wear over the implant site during the healing period.
3. The implant is uncovered, and a connector piece called an abutment is attached. The gum is again allowed to heal for a couple of weeks following this procedure.
4. The restoration or crown is fabricated and permanently attached to the abutment.
The implant process is a cooperative effort between the surgical dentist who places the implant/s and your restorative dentist who creates and inserts the final replacement teeth.
Success Rates of Dental Implants
Dental implant success rates depend on where the implants are placed, the condition of the patient's jaw, and the patient's health. The success rate for upper jaw implants is slightly lower because the tissue and bone in the upper jaw is less dense than the lower jaw. This makes implantation and osseointegration more difficult. Lower posterior implantation has the highest success rate for all dental implants.
Based on a five-year period, the average success rates are around 94%.
Dental implants can fail for a number of reasons, but most of the time involves infection or inability of the jaw bone to bond to the surface of the implant. Patients who smoke or use tobacco face a much higher risk of implant failure, as it has a negative impact on the healing process. Patients with compromised immune systems may also experience a higher failure rate.
Dental implants can develop gum infections, just like natural teeth. If left untreated, it will lead to loss of supporting jaw bone and eventual implant failure.
$99 Implant Consultation
We offer consultations with CT Scan included for evaluation of implant placement for $99.