There are few things as upsetting as losing one or more of your teeth. For some, the thought conjures up unpleasant images of parents and grandparents soaking their dentures on the bedside table.
Fortunately, a significantly better option has emerged over the last 30 years: dental implants.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is surgically anchored into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge in place.
The benefit of replacing missing teeth with dental implants is that
- implants don’t rely on neighboring teeth for support
- they are permanent and stable, and
- most importantly, dental implants look and feel like natural teeth!
Dental implants have proven to be an excellent treatment choice for replacing missing teeth.
Click on frequently asked questions below to learn moreAm I a candidate for dental implants?
You must be in good health, have healthy gums, have adequate bone structure, excellent oral hygiene habits, and maintain regular dental visits.
Some medical factors that might prevent a person from being a good candidate are uncontrolled diabetes, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy, parathyroid disorders, blood disorders, rare bone disorders or bone marrow cancer. Also, chronic teeth bruxers/clenchers and smokers are typically not good candidates for dental implants.
Dental implants can replace a single tooth that has been knocked out, or several teeth that have been damaged by periodontal disease or decay.
- If you are missing a single tooth, one implant and a crown can replace it. A dental implant replaces both the lost natural tooth and its root. Replacing one or more teeth can be done without affecting bordering teeth.
- If you are missing several teeth, implant supported bridges can replace them. Dental implants will replace both your lost natural teeth and some of the roots. This option eliminates the need for removable partial dentures.
- If you are missing all of your teeth, an implant-supported full bridge or full denture can replace them. Dental implants will replace both your lost natural teeth and some of the roots. In this case, the denture is much more secure and comfortable.
The entire process takes approximately six to eight months.
For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures.
The first is completed by your oral surgeon who places the implants within your jawbone. The implants will remain beneath the surface of the gum for the first three to six months. This allows the implant to bond with the jawbone, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. During this time you will meet with Dr. Huang who will be developing the new replacement teeth that will be placed on the implant posts.
After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, Dr. Huang will attach small posts that protrude through the gums. These will serve as anchors for the new artificial teeth that Dr. Huang will be attached to the posts.
One of the keys to implant success is the quantity and quality of the bone where the implant is to be placed. The upper back jaw is one of the most difficult areas to successfully place dental implants because of insufficient bone quantity and quality and the close proximity to the sinus.
Sinus augmentation can help correct this problem by raising the sinus floor and developing bone for the placement of dental implants.
In other cases, deformities in the upper or lower jaw can leave a candidate with inadequate bone in which to place dental implants. To correct the problem, the gum is lifted away from the ridge to expose the bony defect. The defect is then filled with bone or bone substitute to build up the ridge.
Ridge modification has been shown to greatly improve appearance and increase your chances for successful implants that can last for years to come.
Another type of implant is placed on top of the jaw (Subperiosteal), the implant is held in place with posts that protrude through the gum. This is an appropriate option for patients that are unable to wear conventional dentures or do not have adequate jaw bone height for the Endosteal implant.
The success rate is about 95% for those placed in the front of the lower jaw and 85% for those placed on the sides and rear of the upper jaw.
Your overall health may affect the success rate of dental implants.
Proper oral hygiene plays a significant role in the success of dental implants.
It is essential to floss and brush around the implant at least twice a day. Additionally, up to four professional dental cleanings may be necessary per year.