A dental implant is the most recommended replacement for teeth due to an extremely high success rate, and paramount durability.
Why A Dental Implant?
Statistics show that 69% of adults ages 35 to 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth to an accident, gum disease, a failed root canal or tooth decay.
Many people who are missing a single tooth opt for a fixed bridge. However, overtime it may have a negative impacts on adjacent healthy teeth. There are also additional cost of a potential replacement of the bridge over the course of a lifetime. Similarly, a removable partial denture may contribute to the loss of adjacent teeth. Studies show that within five to seven years there is a failure rate of up to 30% in teeth located next to a fixed bridge or removable partial denture.
Further, conventional dentures may contribute to the loss of bone in the area where teeth are missing. When a tooth is missing, the bone may erode and weaken until it may be necessary for your oral and maxillofacial surgeon to graft bone to the area to strengthen it for placement of a dental implant. When a missing tooth is replaced by a dental implant, the fusion, or osseointegration, of the dental implant and bone provides stability, just as the natural tooth did.
Dental Implant Site Preparation
Once dental implant surgery has been deemed the appropriate solution for the patient the procedure is then planned. The dental surgeon will use a variety of analytical methods to determine the ideal placement for the dental implant. Once the dental implant location has been identified the dental implant specialist will mark this site. Local anesthetic is used to numb the gum, so the patient feels nothing throughout the implant procedure.
The gum tissue is opened to expose the bone area where the implant will be placed. In situations where there is insufficient bone structure, bone grafting may be a recommended procedure. If a bone graft is required then the surgeon will recommend a period of time to allow the bone to regenerate before the surgery is performed.
Surgical Placement of a Dental Implant
The dental implant procedure is the same whether one or all teeth are missing. However, when the teeth are extracted it is extremely vital to determine how much time can pass due to the potential of post extraction
Once healthy bone material has been established, a special drill is used to prepare the bone to receive the dental implant. A small-diameter hole is drilled in order to guide the titanium screw that holds a dental implant in place. To avoid damaging vital jaw and face structures like the inferior alveolar nerve in the lower jaw, a dentist must use great skill and expertise when boring the pilot hole and sizing the jaw bone. In many instances dentists use surgical guides created based on the CT scans when placing the dental implant.
After the initial pilot hole has been drilled into the appropriate jaw site, it is slowly widened to allow placement of the implant screw. Once in place, surrounding gum tissue is secured over the implant and a protective cover screw is placed on top to allow the site to heal. After up to six months of healing, the dental implant has become fused with the bone through a process called osseointegration. The importance of this fusion is to create the foundation for the tooth, which enables the dental implant to feel like a natural tooth and last for a lifetime.
Once the tooth is healed, the dentist will uncover the dental implant and attach an abutment (which holds the crown or tooth-like replacement) to it. In some cases, the abutment may be attached during the initial procedure. When the abutment is in place, your dentist then will create a temporary crown. The temporary crown serves as a template around which the gum grows and shapes itself in a natural way. The process is completed when the temporary crown is replaced with a permanent crown.