Dental implants are a great way to replace missing teeth and also provide a fixed solution to having removable partial or complete dentures. Implants provide excellent support and stability for these dental appliances. Dental implants are artificial roots and teeth (usually titanium) that are surgically placed into the upper or lower jaw bone by a dentist or Periodontist – a specialist of the gums and supporting bone. The teeth attached to implants are very natural looking and often enhance or restore a patient’s smile! Dental implants are very strong, stable, and durable and will last many years, but on occasion, they will have to be re-tightened or replaced due to normal wear. Reasons for dental implants:
- Replace one or more missing teeth without affecting adjacent teeth
- Resolve joint pain or bite problems caused by teeth shifting into missing tooth space
- Restore a patient’s confident smile
- Restore chewing, speech, and digestion
- Restore or enhance facial tissues
- Support a bridge or denture, making them more secure and comfortable
What does getting dental implants involve?
The process of getting implants requires a number of visits over several months. X-rays and impressions (molds) are taken of the jaw and teeth to determine bone, gum tissue, and spacing available for an implant. While the area is numb, the implant will be surgically placed into the bone and allowed to heal and integrate itself onto the bone for up to six months. Depending on the type of implant, a second surgery may be required in order to place the “post” that will hold the artificial tooth in place. With other implants the post and anchor are already attached and placed at the same time. After several weeks of healing the artificial teeth are made and fitted to the post portion of the anchor. Because several fittings may be required, this step may take one to two months to complete. After a healing period, the artificial teeth are securely attached to the implant, providing excellent stability and comfort to the patient. You will receive care instructions when your treatment is completed. Good oral hygiene, eating habits, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new implant.
Single Tooth Replacement
Missing a single tooth can be a result of traumatic injury or a birth-related abnormality. It can also occur due to dental caries (tooth decay) or a failed dental procedure. The missing tooth can be replaced with various options such as fixed partial dentures, resin-bonded bridge, fixed bridge or single dental implants. The best option for single tooth replacement is a single dental implant with ceramic crown. Single dental implant procedure: Your dentist will examine your teeth with the help of X-rays and prepare for the procedure. An implant will be inserted into the jaw bone with a temporary tooth placed over it. After the implant bonds with the jaw bone, a permanent ceramic tooth called a crown will be placed on the implant and will immediately start functioning as one of your natural teeth. Other alternatives include:
- Tooth-supported fixed bridge: This procedure involves reducing the adjacent two teeth to place crowns which will support the bridge with the false tooth between them. It is easy to install and provides good aesthetic appeal.
- Removable partial denture: The partial denture is made of plastic and is removable, but is a temporary option.
- Resin-bonded bridge: This type of bridge can be installed quickly and provides a high aesthetic appeal. It consists of a metal framework with wings that attach to the back of the adjacent teeth with a false tooth bonded to the framework. The downside is the resin-bonded bridge may fall off and need replacement after a few years.
Multiple Teeth Replacement
Loss of several teeth can induce lack of confidence and aesthetic appeal. Multiple tooth loss can also lead to many oral health problems such as gum disease, tooth damage and issues of misalignment. Various options to replace multiple teeth include:
- Multiple single-tooth implant restoration involves insertion of an implant into the jawbone to replace the tooth root. When this heals, an abutment is added which is covered by a crown
- Conventional Removable partial denture (RPD): This denture can be removed daily to allow for cleaning of teeth. It consists of a metal framework, denture teeth and acrylic
- Removable partial denture with implants: The implant used increases stability and support and prevents display of the metal framework such as with conventional RPD
- Fixed partial denture: Two teeth on either side of the missing tooth/teeth are reduced for the placement of crowns which will be connected to the artificial teeth between them for support. Replacement may be required in future
Full Arch Replacement
If you are missing a full arch of teeth either in the upper or lower jaw, or both, there is a permanent solution where you do not have to wear removable dentures. A full arch replacement involves insertion of implants to replace the missing teeth in one or both jaws. A fixed bridge is then anchored to the dental implants as a permanent solution for a full arch replacement. The number of implants required will depend on the anatomy of the oral cavity, the type of bridge, presence of opposing teeth and number of teeth required to be replaced. Installation of the implants to replace the lost teeth roots is the first step. While the implants heal, your dentist will place a temporary fixed-bridge which will allow you to perform activities such as smiling, chewing and speaking without the need for removable dentures. When the implants have healed, your dentist will attach the permanent bridge over the implants. This may take a couple of dental visits to complete depending on your situation. With the permanent bridge in place, it is difficult to tell the difference from natural teeth and many patients report extreme satisfaction with the results.