Dental implants have been used successfully for smile restoration for the last 50 years. Implants can be the longest-lasting treatment for replacing a missing tooth. Implants are also useful for supporting dentures and bridges to correct more extensive tooth loss.
Dental implants are prosthetic replacements for missing or severely damaged teeth. This treatment option delivers an excellent level of patient satisfaction. Tooth implants provide a natural-looking appearance and long-lasting function. They are becoming the gold standard for smile makeovers and dental restoration when missing teeth are involved. If you have lost one or more teeth to fractures, gum disease or tooth decay, this procedure could finally give you back your beautiful smile.
Why choose dental implants?
- Implants can be used to fully restore teeth that are too badly damaged or decayed for repair with a composite (tooth colored) filling, a porcelain inlay/onlay or a crown.
- A dental implant restores normal chewing and biting ability. Most patients can resume a normal, healthy diet that includes a wide variety of foods after treatment is complete.
- Tooth implants offer a conservative solution compared to a traditional bridge. Only the tooth that is being replaced is affected. The teeth on either side of the missing tooth are not ground down and crowned (capped).
- Patients can opt to have one or several teeth replaced with implants. Dental implants can also support dentures. These implant-supported dentures tend to be more stable and comfortable than those held in place with adhesive.
- Replacing a missing tooth with an implant helps prevent other teeth from shifting out of alignment over time. Keeping teeth straight and even promotes better oral care. It makes proper brushing and flossing easier, which reduces the risk of cavities and gum disease.
- Since the prosthetic tooth is load-bearing (you can bite and chew with it), an implant may also help limit further jaw bone loss in the treated area.
- Long term success rates with implants range above 95%. Most patients enjoy their dental implants for life with no need for replacement or repair.
Who is a candidate for dental implants?
This procedure is designed for patients who need oral reconstruction. Adults and post puberty teens who have their permanent teeth can be treated with implants. There is no upper age limit for this treatment. The most important factor in success rates for implants is bone density. Patients who have very advanced periodontitis (gum disease) may not have enough bone left to hold an implant. They may need one or more bone grafting procedures before they can get tooth implants. Smokers have more complications during healing than non-smokers, so if you smoke, you need to stop before you undergo this dental treatment.
Dental implants procedure overview
Tooth implants rely on osseointegration to create a stable connection between a titanium implant and the jawbone. During osseointegration, the bone grows into direct contact with the implant, holding it firmly in place. Here’s a brief overview of the treatment process provided by our oral surgeons and periodontists.
- Consultation – This includes a full oral exam, medical history, x-rays and a CT scan. This information is used to determine if you are a good candidate for dental implants as well as what size and shape of implant to use.
- Preparation – If you have a tooth root in place, this is removed. The gum is opened slightly to expose the jawbone.
- Placement – A tiny hole is drilled in your jawbone and the titanium implant is screwed or fitted in place.
- Healing – This phase lasts 3-6 months. During this time, your jawbone heals around the implant.
- Abutment – A small metal post is attached to the implant and your gum is allowed to heal again (this recovery period is a few days).
- Restoration – A custom fabricated porcelain crown and permanent custom abutment that looks like your natural teeth is fitted and cemented.
More information about dental implants
This dental treatment generally has a higher up-front cost than traditional crowns and bridges. The restoration process also takes longer. However, the investment in time and money can more than pay for itself with a reduction in dental interventions over your lifetime. Just be sure to practice excellent dental hygiene so you don’t lose more teeth!