Dental implants are changing the way people live. Since the 1950’s they have been designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved. Patients with dental implants can smile with confidence.
What Are Dental Implants?
The implants themselves are small titanium posts that are surgically placed into the jaw where teeth are missing. These implants are used to replace the roots of natural teeth. The bone of the jaw bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for new teeth. Once the bone has bonded to the implant (typically four months after it is placed) your dentist or prosthodontist can begin the process of fabricating the tooth or teeth they will support.
Implant: the small titanium post used to replace the root or roots of natural teeth
Healing abutment: a small cap placed on an implant, it passes through the gum allowing your surgeon or dentist to easily access the implant without a second surgical procedure
Bone graft: a procedure to build or re-build the bone of the jaw in preparation for implant placement
Prosthesis: the new tooth or teeth placed on your implants by your dentist
Immediate implant: an implant placed into a re-shaped tooth socket immediately after the tooth is removed, usually placed in addition to a bone graft, see below
Single stage implant: an implant placed with a healing abutment exposed in the mouth, this implant needs only one surgical procedure, see below
Two stage implant: an implant placed beneath the gum, this technique requires a second surgical procedure before the new tooth or teeth can be fabricated, see below
Implants are a team effort involving you, Dr. Heggland, and a restorative dentist. While Dr. Heggland performs the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary, the restorative dentist (your dentist) fits and makes the permanent prosthesis (tooth or teeth). Your dentist will also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the healing period.
Advanced Surgical Techniques
Single Stage Implants
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Dr. Heggland is able to place single stage implants for most patients. First, the implants are placed in to a carefully planned position in your jaw, then a small cap is placed on the implant. This cap (a healing abutment)passes through the gum and remains visible in the mouth while the implant undergoes bone bonding. A great advantage of this technique is that these implants do not require a second procedure to uncover them at the time your dentist begins to fabricate the new tooth or teeth.
There are many situations where the implants and bone grafts can be placed at the same time as a tooth extraction further minimizing the number of surgical procedures. Advances in dental implant technology and Dr. Heggland‘s years of advanced surgical training can even make it possible in select cases to extract teeth and place implants that have temporary crowns placed by the patient’s dentist the same day. This technique is particularly important when the tooth or teeth involved are important cosmetically, and can prevent the need for removable appliances or the appearance of missing teeth.
Two Stage Implants
For some patients, the placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures. First, implants are placed into a carefully planned position in your jaw. For the first four months following two stage surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums gradually bonding with the bone of the jaw. You should be able to wear temporary dentures and eat a soft diet during this time. After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. Dr. Heggland will uncover the implants and attach a small cap (a healing abutment) to them. After a short time to allow the gum to heal in the area around this cap, your dentist will begin fabricating your new tooth or teeth. The entire process usually takes about six months to complete, and most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.
Bone Grafting Before Implant Placement
Some patients will require procedures to reconstruct the bone of the jaw before implants can be placed. In cases where teeth have been missing for long periods of time the patient can experience significant bone loss, effectively shrinking the jaw and the available space for an implant. In others, teeth may need to be removed prior to placing implants, but the sites are not suitable for immediate implant placement. These sites are then treated with bone grafting to build a strong foundation for the implant. Most often these grafts can be accomplished in the office-based surgery center, and have a short recovery period.
Dental Implants Presentation
To provide you with a better understanding of dental implants, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to dental implants are discussed.
Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Implants
What Types Of Prostheses Are Available?
A single prosthesis (crown) can be used to replace one missing tooth with each new tooth attached to its own implant. A fixed bridge can be used to replace two or more teeth and may require as few as two implants. A complete dental prosthesis can even replace all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. The number of implants needed varies depending upon which type of complete prosthesis (removable denture, partial denture, or fixed bridge) is recommended. A removable prosthesis (over denture) attaches to a special snap attachment, whereas a fixed bridge type of prosthesis is permanent and removable only by the dentist.
Dr. Heggland performs implant surgery in an office-based surgery center operating suite, thus optimizing the level of sterility. Inpatient hospital implant surgery is for patients who have special medical or anesthetic needs or for those who need extensive bone grafting.
Why Dental Implants?
Once you learn about dental implants, you finally realize there is a way to improve you life. When you lose several teeth whether it’s a new situation or something you have lived with for years chances are you never become fully accustomed to losing such a vital part of yourself.
Dental implants can be your doorway to renewed self-confidence and peace of mind.
A Swedish scientist and surgeon, Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark, developed this concept for oral rehabilitation beginning in the 1950s. With his pioneering research, Dr. Branemark opened the door to a lifetime of renewed comfort and self-confidence for millions of individuals facing the frustration and embarrassment of tooth loss.
Why Select Dental Implants Over More Traditional Types Of Restorations?
There are several reasons: Why sacrifice the structure of surrounding good teeth to bridge a space? In addition, removing a denture or a partial at night may be inconvenient, and complete and partial dentures often do not function as well as the patient would like, not to mention that dentures that slip can be uncomfortable and rather embarrassing.
Additionally, dental implants are, for many patients, a “lifetime” solution. They last longer than conventional fixed bridges on natural teeth, and do not have the series of associated expenses that can occur with maintaining a fixed bridge. Dental implants also act to help preserve the bone of the jaw, as opposed to dentures which can accelerate the rate of bone loss after teeth are lost.
Are You A Candidate For Implants?
If you are considering implants, your mouth must be examined thoroughly and your medical and dental history reviewed. If your mouth is not ideal for implants, ways of improving outcome, such as bone grafting, may be recommended. Very young patients may have to wait until they have finished growing before they are candidates for dental implant tooth replacement, but there is no age limit on implant reconstruction. Dr. Heggland has one patient in his 90’s who underwent a complete reconstruction with 16 implants, he has had them now for four years, and he’s very happy with the result!
What Type Of Anesthesia Is Used?
Because he has years of advanced training in surgery and anesthesia Dr. Heggland can provide your implant treatment with the comfort of safe IV sedation and anesthesia if you desire. Only a properly trained Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon can provide this level of service. Many patients are also able to have implant surgery with only local anesthesia, or with local anesthesia combined with nitrous oxide, eliminating the special preparation necessary for IV sedation or general anesthesia.
Do Implants Need Special Care?
Once the implants are in place, they will serve you well for many years, most likely for the rest of your life, if you take care of them and keep your mouth healthy. This means taking the time for good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) and keeping regular appointments with your dental specialists.
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