Unsightly or missing teeth, painful dentures and ineffective bridges can all be a thing of the past as advancements in dental technology have led to a permanent solution that provides replacement teeth with durability, aesthetic beauty and practical functionality.
Placing dental implants as a dental replacement technology has become relatively routine in the 35 years since their introduction by Swedish scientist Ingevar Branemark. Lost or damaged teeth can now be easily replaced with a more permanent, natural looking and functional alternative than bridges or dentures. Now, more people than ever before can benefit from this life-changing treatment.
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.
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Dentures that have to be removed every night and glued in place every morning often come loose and shift in the mouth, making speech awkward and eating certain foods impossible. In addition, many denture wearers feel discomfort, making them far from the ideal solution. While crowns are fixed in place, they need to be periodically replaced and often affect the surrounding teeth and gums adversely. It is no wonder that many people have chosen not to replace lost teeth in the past, accepting instead the lost confidence that comes with unsightly gaps in their teeth.
Dental implants are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth. Patients with dental implants regain the ability to eat virtually anything and can smile with confidence, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved because implants can help preserve facial structure, preventing the bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.
The implants themselves are tiny titanium posts that are surgically placed into the jaw bone where teeth are missing. Just like natural teeth, dental implants have a root and a crown. The root is made of titanium, which is compatible with the human body and act as tooth root substitutes. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Attachments are then placed on the implants to secure crowns, bridges, partials, or dentures.
Unlike dentures or bridges, the crowns on dental implants are attached to the implanted titanium root, which is fixed to the jaw bone. This makes implants more permanent than either dentures or regular crowns and allows them to fit as snugly and securely without adversely affecting any surrounding teeth
Since dental implants are securely rooted to the bone, they involve no plastic on the roof of the mouth. This allows them to look and perform just like natural teeth. Adhesives are not needed to hold the teeth in place and, more importantly, adjacent healthy teeth need not be compromised. Implants have undergone remarkable advances in recent years, making them the ideal choice for individuals looking to replace one or more missing teeth, even a whole set of teeth.
If, like many others, you feel implant dentistry is the right choice for you, we ask that you undergo a dental/radiographic examination. During this consultation visit, Dr. Helm will address your specific needs and considerations. Your questions and concerns are important to us. Our team will work very closely with you and your dentist to help make your procedure a success.
The placement of dental implants may involve one or more surgical procedures. Phase #1 includes the actual placement of the implant in your jaw, a process generally performed in the office with local anesthesia or light sedation to help make you more comfortable. Using precise, surgical techniques, the implants are placed into the jaw bone. Healing time following surgery varies from person to person and is based on a variety of factors that include bone density. In some cases, implants may be restored immediately after they are placed. Over a period of 2 to 6 months, osseointegration (bonding to bone) takes place. This helps ensure a strong, solid foundation for replacement teeth. During this time, you should be able to wear a temporary partial or denture to minimize any cosmetic or chewing inconvenience.
After the bone has bonded to the implant, Dr. Helm will attach a small healing collar. Shortly thereafter, your general dentist will be able to start making your new teeth. An impression must be taken; then posts or attachments can be connected to the implants.
Phase #2 involves creating and attaching the new tooth or teeth to the anchored implant(s) in your jaw. Dental implants can replace a single tooth, several teeth or complete dentures. Your dentist can recommend the best choice for you. The replacement teeth are then made to fit over the posts or attachments. The entire procedure usually takes three to twelve months and most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Dr. Helm is able to place single stage implants. These implants do not require a second procedure to uncover them, but do require a minimum of six weeks of healing time before artificial teeth are placed. There are even situations where the implants can be placed at the same time as a tooth extraction – further minimizing the number of surgical procedures. Advances in dental implant technology have made it possible, in select cases, to extract teeth and place implants with crowns at one visit.
The placement of dental implants is a team effort between a periodontist and your restorative dentist. While Dr. Helm performs the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary, the restorative dentist (your general dentist) fits and makes the permanent prosthesis. Your dentist will usually also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process. Once the process is complete, you will return to your general dentist for care.
A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth – each prosthetic tooth attaches to its own implant. A removable partial prosthesis or a fixed bridge prosthesis can replace two or more teeth and may require only two implants. A complete dental prosthesis replaces all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. The number of implants varies depending upon which type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended. A removable prosthesis (over denture) attaches to a bar or ball-in-socket attachments, whereas a fixed prosthesis is permanent and removable only by the dentist.
Dental implants can be your doorway to renewed self-confidence and peace of mind.
For a brief narrated overview of the dental implant process, please click the image below. It will launch our flash educational MiniModule in a separate window that may answer some of your questions about dental implants.
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Once you learn about dental implants, you will realize there is a way to improve your life. When you lose several teeth – whether it's a new situation or something you have lived with for years, chances are you have never become fully accustomed to losing such a vital part of yourself.
A Swedish scientist and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark, developed this concept for oral rehabilitation more than 35 years ago. 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.
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, not to mention that dentures that slip can be uncomfortable and rather embarrassing.
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.
Dental implants and bone grafting can be performed in the office under local anesthesia, with or without Conscious IV Sedation.
Once the implants are in place, they will serve you well for many years 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 general dentist.