By Derek Gatta DMD MS FACP
Dental implants are a game changer for tooth replacement therapy. Previously, patients did not have great options for replacing missing teeth. Patients usually received a dental bridge or removable teeth they had to take out at night. Dental implants are titanium posts and are very biocompatible. A dental surgeon places dental implants in the same location where your tooth used to be. Once placed, bone cells grow onto the titanium surface, locking in the implant. In addition to replacing missing teeth, dental implants help preserve and prevent further bone loss. They require 3-4 months for complete healing, but select patients can receive a temporary tooth replacement the same day. Implants have a 95%+ success rate and are not susceptible to caries (cavities). They can still get a form of periodontal disease, so it’s important to continue getting professional checkups and cleanings.
Here is what to expect for dental implant procedures:
- We will evaluate your complete dental and medical history to confirm you are a healthy candidate, receiving the highest chances of implant success. Patients who smoke, and have vitamin and mineral deficiencies, will have a less successful outcome.
- We will study your radiographs, photos, and models of your mouth to plan your case with the surgeon, who places the implant. (1-2 appointments)
- If you are missing a lot of bone, you will probably need an additional procedure to graft (augment) the site before we place an implant, to ensure maximum chance of success. (1 appointment)
- Patients receive local anesthesia in the site where the implant is going. You will experience mild discomfort during implant placement, similar to a tooth extraction. For extra comfort, please request IV sedation. We will prescribe an antibiotic and an over the counter pain killer for added comfort and protection. After the implant is in place, we may place a short metal healing collar on top of the implant to help guide tissue healing. (1 appointment)
- Once healing stabilizes, we will remove the metal healing collar and make an impression of the site. The dental lab ceramists use this to fabricate the final cosmetic restoration. (1 appointment)
- On the day of delivery, we will place the final restoration and confirm the fit, bite and cosmetics are up to our standards. (1 appointment)
Dental implants are a reliable and transformative option for patients missing one or more teeth. They not only help create a natural and realistic smile, they help maintain healthy bone levels, preventing large bony defects from forming.