I Keep Hearing About Dental Implants

A dental implant is actually an artificial tooth root that is placed in the jaw bone. It is then used to support a single crown, bridge or denture. Dental implants are the standard of care for tooth replacement today for people who have lost teeth due to injury or gum disease.

What needs to be done before I get an implant?

Whether a tooth needs to be extracted or has previously been extracted, bone will likely need to be added to the socket. This will preserve the contour of the jawbone and provide support for the implant. The implant may be placed at the same time. However, there may be a waiting period for the bone to mature before the implant can be placed. This is usually a 3-6 month wait.

If there is extensive bone loss, a “ridge augmentation” may be necessary. This procedure adds a large amount of bone. This may require a longer maturation period, usually 6-12 months.

If the tooth to be replaced sits below the sinus cavity on the upper right or upper left of the jaw, a “sinus lift procedure” may be necessary. During this procedure, the sinus floor is raised and bone is added to provide adequate support for the implant. There is usually a 9-12 month wait before implants can be placed after a sinus lift.

During the healing phase of implant placement, temporary teeth can be worn to fill the empty space. This will prevent other teeth from shifting and provide proper aesthetics. The temporary teeth are provided the day of extraction, so the patient can leave the office that day with tooth replacement.

What is the benefit of getting dental implants?

Dental implants are the most natural form of tooth replacement. Not only do they replicate the look, feel and function of natural teeth, but they also prevent the jaw bone from “melting away”. Bridges are prone to dental decay. An implant cannot get a cavity. Dentures often move, causing speech issues or sore spots, and certain foods become difficult if not impossible to eat. Dental implants can eliminate these denture problems and provide a long lasting answer to missing teeth.