If you've lost teeth or need to have them replaced, dental implants are often a great way to go. They consist of an artificial root, which is usually made of titanium, and an artificial tooth, which is usually made from porcelain, and crafted to look like it's always been one of your own. Dental implants are the gold standard in the treatment of missing teeth. If you want to restore your smile, dental functionality, and self-confidence, you may be a good candidate for dental implants.
They provide strength and integrity to your jaw bone, and they will last for years. In some cases, an occasional re-tightening might be required, or the tooth and/or root replaced.
Perhaps one of the best advantages of an implant is that they are cared for just like your natural teeth - through normal preventive dentistry!
Since their development, dental implants have been helping millions of people across the planet restore their mouths both esthetically and functionally. It’s the next best thing to a real tooth: No other dental treatment comes close to mimicking the look, feel, and function of an actual tooth. Here at DeSoto Family Dentistry, we take great pride in our dental implant work. Here’s what you should know about this remarkable treatment:
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots. They’re typically made out of titanium, but also sometimes ceramics. If a tooth is extracted for whatever reason, the root of that tooth leaves behind a void in the jaw. The dental implant fills this void, and can then be fitted with a restoration.
Dental implants can be used to restore a single missing tooth, or can be used to support a bridge to restore multiple teeth. Several implants used in careful coordination can even be used to support a full arch denture, providing unparalleled stability and function for a full-mouth rehabilitation.
Implants offer several advantages over dentures, bridges or removable partial dentures.
Anyone with a missing tooth should consider getting a dental implant. Likewise, anyone who thinks they might need a tooth extracted — due to damage or disease, for example — should ask their dentist.
When a tooth is removed, it leaves a gap, as we said. If this gap isn’t filled, it will slowly collapse. Our bodies are constantly growing, shifting, and changing. New cells die and are replaced every second. Without anything to support the jaw bone from within, it will close down over that hole.
What this means is a jaw that doesn’t function as well. Teeth on either side of the gap can “tip” to cover the hole, affecting your ability to eat and chew. This puts extra pressure on the opposite side of the mouth, which can lead to chips, cracks, and even breaks in the teeth there.
A dental implant is composed of 3 parts, the Implant, Abutment, and Crown.
The first thing that needs to happen for a dental implant procedure is for the tooth to be extracted. This might be done as part of the procedure, or sometimes the tooth has been missing for a while already.
Once the tooth is extracted, the dental implant is placed. This is a surgical procedure which requires precise placement of the implant for maximum effect. The gum is sewn shut over the implant site, and the jaw bone is allowed to heal and fuse around the implant. Once this is secure, the gum is reopened to allow the restoration to be placed.
The implant itself is a small titanium post that is placed into bone in area(s) of missing teeth. Once the teeth implant is placed in the bone it needs to heal. During healing, bone surrounds and attaches to the titanium post recreating a stable structure where a crown will be attached.
The abutment is the transition between the implant and the crown. Most abutments are screwed into the implant and provide a surface for the final crown to be cemented on to.
Finally, the crown (cap) is the tooth portion of the implant system that will be visible in the mouth. Once healing is complete, the next step is to place the “abutment” and take an impression. This allows a laboratory to recreate the missing tooth. After the laboratory is finished the patient returns to have the crown permanently cemented in place. Once cemented the dental implant can be treated like a natural tooth. Daily brushing can begin at this point and regular treatment (dental cleanings & evaluations) can be scheduled as needed.
In many cases a temporary replacement tooth can be attached to the implant immediately after it is placed. If all of your teeth are missing, a variety of treatment options are available to support the replacement teeth.
Physicians have relied on computerized axial tomography scans (CAT) for many years. CAT scans are an X-ray procedure that uses many different X-ray images with the help of computers to generate cross-sectional or even 3D views of internal organs and structures within the body. A knee replacement surgery, for example, would never be performed without first examining 3D imaging.
Dentists have begun to depend on 3D imaging scans to provide them with a detailed view of the mouth and skull. The advantage that 3D imaging holds over regular dental x-rays is that bone structure, bone density, tissues, and nerves can be viewed clearly.
Dr Varkey uses an in-office Cone Beam Imaging system, making detailed planning of your dental implant fast and convenient. The scans can be completed in less than half a minute. This means that far less radiation enters the body than if a regular set of bitewing X-rays were taken. The imaging takes place in an open environment, eliminating any claustrophobic tendencies and you remain seated at all times.
Sinus lift augmentation — Often, the sinuses will enlarge following loss of the upper back teeth. This can impede placement of dental implants in the upper back areas of the mouth, since the sinus is an air-filled space and dental implants need to be surrounded by solid bone. A sinus lift augmentation/graft is a surgical procedure that restores the sinus cavity into its original position and replaces the bone lost as a result of the enlarged sinus. This new bone graft typically takes nine to 12 months to heal before the dental implants can be placed into the grafted bone.
Autogenous bone grafting — Occasionally, areas where dental implants are ideally to be placed do not have sufficient bone quantity to securely anchor the dental implants. In these cases, it is often necessary to “borrow” bone from another area of your mouth and graft it into the deficient area. The area of choice is usually from the chin or the back of the jaw where your wisdom teeth used to be.
Implant site development — When a tooth needs to be removed due to infection, it is not uncommon to have lost bone from around the infected area. In these cases, various types of bone grafting can be done at the same time the tooth is removed to facilitate the placement of a dental implant at a later date.
Computer-enhanced treatment planning — We have special software on our computer that allows us to evaluate your dental CT scan in three dimensions for bone quality, bone quantity, and bone location. This allows the best possible placement of your dental implants. It also allows us to work closely and smoothly with your restorative dentist to ensure an ideal result where your dental implants are concerned.
At DeSoto Family Dentistry, we use a Cone Beam CT Scanner to accurately measure and plan our implant procedures. CBCT scanners give us the precision we need to ensure we’re placing the implant in the optimal space to not only restore your missing teeth, but ensure it lasts for many decades to come.
If you have missing teeth and would like to have them replaced, or are worried you’ll need an extraction in the near future, contact us today to see how we can help you.