A dental implant is a ‘root’ device, usually made of titanium, used in dentistry to support restorations that resemble a tooth or group of teeth to replace missing teeth. Dental implants can be used to support a number of dental prostheses, including crowns, implant-supported bridges or dentures. They can be used as anchorage for orthodontic tooth movement. The use of dental implants permits unidirectional tooth movement without reciprocal action.
Types of Dental Implants
- Endosteal (in the bone): This is the most commonly used type of implant. The various types include screws, cylinders or blades surgically placed into the jawbone. Each implant holds one or more prosthetic teeth. This type of implant is generally used as an alternative for patients with bridges or removable dentures.
- Subperiosteal (on the bone): These are placed on top of the jaw with the metal framework's posts protruding through the gum to hold the prosthesis. These types of implants are used for patients who are unable to wear conventional dentures and who have minimal bone height.
Conditions for Dental Implant Procedure
- Replacing a single tooth: If you are missing a single tooth, one implant and a crown can replace it.
- Replacing several teeth: If you are missing several teeth, implant-supported bridges can replace them.
- Replacing all of your teeth: If you are missing all of your teeth, an implant-supported full bridge or full denture can replace them.
- Sinus Augmentation: A key to implant success is the quantity and quality of the bone where the implant is to be placed. The upper back jaw has traditionally been one of the most difficult areas to successfully place dental implants due to 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.
- Ridge Modification: Deformities in the upper or lower jaw can leave you 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.
Dental Implant Procedure
- Surgical placement of the implant(s) into the bone. This is usually done right in the dentist’s office, with a local anesthetic. After surgery, there is a healing period of approximately four months. During this time, the implants fuse to the bone by a process known as ‘osseointegration’.
- Next, there is a minor surgical exposure of the top of the implant, whereby the dentist will attach the post to the implant. The function of the post is to become the support for either one tooth or a set of teeth. This is a short procedure that usually requires only local anesthesia.
- The last phase is the restorative phase. The dentist will take impressions and then make a prosthesis that will attach to the implants. This will require several visits. Once completed, your mouth will be restored to natural looking, strong teeth.