Tooth replacement or restoration, as it is often referred to, can take one of three forms: 1) crowns to replace individual teeth; 2) bridges to substitute for multiple adjacent teeth; or 3) dentures for cases when bridges are not possible. Traditionally, all three restoration types are attached to existing healthy teeth. However, with advances in healthcare science and technology, a better and more natural alternative is available. This alternative is the dental implant.
Dental implants are small, sturdy, titanium “roots” or “anchors” that serve as a foundation for crowns, bridges, and dentures, as the root structure would serve for a natural tooth. Implants are placed into jaw bone in a way that allows bone tissue to grow around them. Once an implant is placed, bone and the implant integrate – or fuse together – so well that they cannot be separated. This allows a dentist to create aesthetically pleasing and durable tooth replacement on top of the implants. Dental implants are the ideal treatment for missing teeth because adjacent healthy teeth won’t have to be grounded to accept a crown or a bride; and removable partial dentures could be worn without ugly and uncomfortable clasps.
There are many types of implants, each designed to address a specific problem or condition. For instance, one piece implants can be used as anchors for crowns to replace front teeth. Mini-implants are used for overdenture attachments. Multiple piece implants are used in cases when existing bone structure requires the implant to be inserted at an angle different from the angle of the original root. Such implant solutions usually consist of three separate parts: implant root, abutment, and prosthesis (crown, bridge, or denture). The implant replaces the root of your tooth; restoration replaces the actual tooth; and the abutment connects the two together. Finally, Implants also vary in thickness to address the issues of bone density: thicker implants are used in cases with lower bone density. Please note, that additional procedure such as bone graft or sinus lift may be required to receive an implant.In some instances, it is possible to place an implant and restoration in one appointment. However, the treatment plan may require separate procedures to place the implant, allow the bone to heal (up to six months), and then place the restoration.
As you can see, when it comes to implants, there are a lot of different options available to you as a patient. We would be more than happy to analyze your individual case and provide you with a customized treatment plan. Depending on your situation, we will advise you of how long the entire treatment process will take, how many appointments will be necessary and what you can expect after each procedure.
Nevertheless, below is the general guide of implant solutions. Please note that actual treatment plan can only be determined after thorough examination by a dentist and most likely will differ from the examples below.
Sample Implant Solutions
- Missing one tooth – single implant capped with a crown
- Missing two adjacent teeth – two single implant capped with two crowns
- Missing tree or more adjacent teeth – two to six implants (bone structure permitting) capped with a bridge or a denture
Reasons for Implants
- Allow for natural function and appearance of your lost teeth
- Enhance chewing comfort
- Provide the strength and durability required to eat all food types
- Increase confidence while smiling, talking and eating
- Prevent jaw bone loss
- Prevent movements of remaining teeth
- Provide support for a partial or full dentures
Dental Implant Care
Once implants have been placed, they require the same maintenance as natural teeth do. Failure to floss, brush, and have periodic dental checkups increases the risk of infection which is a leading cause of implant failure. Finally, smoking should be avoided altogether following implant procedures as it has been associated with high failure rates of dental implants. If cared for properly, an implant restoration can remain in place for more than 30 years.