One of the most exciting advances in dentistry has been the development of dental implants, and their ability to restore the natural function and appearance of missing teeth. A dental implant is a small titanium post that is surgically placed in the area of the missing tooth. The surrounding bone integrates, or fuses, with the implant, creating a very solid foundation for a replacement tooth to attach to. A crown (usually made of porcelain to appear as a natural tooth) is then fabricated and attached to the implant. Even though an implant cannot develop decay it is still necessary to have good oral hygiene and routine dental check-ups.
If, like many others, you feel implant dentistry is the choice for you, we ask that you undergo a comprehensive examination and health history. During these consultation visits, your specific needs and considerations will be addressed by Dr. Zatopek and Dr. Priour or by a specialist suggested by our practice. Your questions and concerns are important to us and our team will work with you very closely to help make your procedure a success.
What are the advantages of a single-tooth implant over a bridge?
A dental implant provides several advantages over other tooth replacement options. In addition to looking and functioning like a natural tooth, a dental implant replaces a single tooth without sacrificing the health of neighboring teeth. The other common treatment for the loss of a single tooth, a tooth-supported fixed bridge, requires that adjacent teeth be prepared to support the cemented bridge.
Because a dental implant will replace your tooth root, the bone is better preserved. With a bridge, some of the bone that previously surrounded the root of the tooth begins to resorb (deteriorate). Dental implants integrate with your bone, helping to keep the bone healthy and intact.
In the long term, a single implant can be more esthetic and easier to keep clean than a bridge. Gums can recede around a bridge, leaving a visible defect when the metal base or collar of the bridge becomes exposed. Resorbed bone beneath the bridge can lead to an unattractive smile. Also, the cement holding the bridge in place can wash out, allowing bacteria to decay the teeth that anchor the bridge.
How will the implant be placed?
First, the implant will be placed by a specialist recommended by our office in the area of the missing tooth. Over the next two to six months, the implant and the bone are allowed to integrate together to form an anchor for your artificial tooth. During this time, a temporary tooth replacement will be placed.
Often, a second step of the procedure is necessary to uncover the implant and attach an extension. This small metal post, called an abutment, completes the foundation on which your new tooth will be placed. Your gums will be allowed to heal for a couple of weeks following this procedure.
There are some implant systems (one-stage) that do not require this second step. These systems use an implant which already has the extension piece attached. The specialist placing your implant will advise you on which system is best for you.
Finally, a replacement tooth called a crown will be created for you and attached to the abutment. You will experience restored confidence in your smile and your ability to chew and speak. Dental implants are so natural-looking and feeling, you may forget you ever lost a tooth!