What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is a small titanium device that is inserted into the jawbone to replace the root of a missing tooth. During the healing process, bone grows around the implant fusing it to the jawbone. Once healing is complete, the implant provides a solid foundation for a new crown. Your dentist will instruct the dental laboratory to make your crown and will then attach it to your implant.
What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants?
- Dental implants help prevent bone loss. The purpose of your jawbone is to support your teeth and facial contours. Your teeth and, specifically, the roots, maintain the structure of your jawbone. When you lose a tooth or multiple teeth, the bone begins to melt away, or resorb. Replacing the tooth root with a dental implant prevents bone loss.
- Dental implants are now considered the standard of care to replace a single missing tooth.
- Dental implants are a more conservative treatment option than a bridge since the adjacent teeth to the missing tooth are not irreversibly modified in preparation for a 3-unit bridge. A bridge requires filing down the two healthy teeth on each side of the missing tooth so that they may act as anchors (posts) for a bridge.
- Dental implants are designed to last longer than any other replacement option. For example, studies show that the typical tooth-supported bridge lasts from 7-10 years and that over time the modified teeth (anchors) of the bridge may fail and need to be removed.
- Dental implants do not decay or require root canals.
- Dental implants improve a person’s comfort, appearance, speech, and the ability to chew and taste food.
- A person’s overall quality of life is enhanced with implants and replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth.
Are You A Candidate For Implants?
Anyone who is missing one or more teeth due to injury, disease, or tooth decay may be a candidate for dental implants. If you are considering implants, Dr. Spector will review your medical and dental history, obtain the appropriate x-rays, and develop a detailed treatment plan in consultation with your referring dentist.
If significant bone loss has occurred, then bone grafting may be necessary to prepare the site for the dental implant.
Occasionally, older patients express concern that their age prevents them from enjoying the benefits of dental implants. However, health is more of a determining factor than age. If you are healthy enough to have a tooth extracted, you are probably healthy enough to receive dental implants.
What Types of Implant Restorations are Available?
Individual Tooth Replacement – A single restoration (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth – each crown attaches to its own implant.
Multiple Tooth Replacement – It is not always necessary to replace each missing tooth with an implant. A multiple tooth bridge can usually be attached to fewer implants.
Replacing All of the Teeth – Typically 2-6 implants are placed in the jaw. Your dentist and surgeon will determine with you if your implants should support fixed teeth or be used to stabilize removable teeth.
Implant dentistry is a team effort between Dr. Spector and your restorative dentist. While we perform the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary, your dentist fits and makes the permanent restoration. Your dentist will also make any temporary restorations needed during the implant process.
What Type Of Anesthesia Is Used?
The majority of dental implant procedures are performed in the office under local anesthesia. We also offer IV sedation and general anesthesia
Continuing Cost of Bridges and Removable Dentures
While conventional bridges and dentures initially are less expensive, both options can have considerable continuing expenses. To place a bridge, the adjacent abutment teeth are cut down which can lead to weakness, repeated treatments, and possibly root canal therapy. Dentures do not preserve bone the way dental implants can, with the jawbone shrinking over time, leading to ill-fitting dentures. Over your lifetime, dental implants are the most cost-effective and esthetic choice to replace missing teeth.
TEETH-IN-A-DAY™ provides patients with fully functioning teeth on dental implants in one day. This procedure requires collaboration between the restorative doctor, dental laboratory, and Dr. Spector. This merging of advanced technology and experience achieves extremely precise implant placement.
The process starts by taking a CT scan of the patient’s jaws. The CT data is used to generate a virtual three-dimensional model of the jawbone that is used to plan the placement of the dental implants in relation to the final dental restoration. A surgical template generated from the virtual plan is then used during surgery to prepare the implant sites and to precisely place the implants. The fixed bridge is then attached to the implants. The computer-guided implant surgery is performed without making an incision or gum flap reflection, the benefits being less postoperative discomfort, less swelling and less bruising. The patients usually resume their normal activities the next day.
Why do I need Bone Grafting?
The purpose of your jawbone is to support your natural teeth. In areas of tooth loss, bone lose occurs with the jawbone shrinking and melting away over time. Bone loss can also occur around existing teeth due to infection, gum disease or trauma. In each of these situations, bone grafting is needed to create an ideal and stable site for the placement of dental implants.
What is bone grafting and what is involved?
Bone grafting prepares a site in the jawbone that is deficient in height and/or width for the placement of a dental implant. There are several bone grafting techniques and bone grafting materials available, ranging from one’s own bone to cadaver bone and synthetic bone grafts. Dr. Spector will recommend the best option for your individual case.
Sinus Lift Procedure
A sinus augmentation, or “sinus lift”, is a bone grafting procedure that is performed in the upper jaw sinus cavity (hollow areas in your cheekbones above the bone that anchors your back teeth) to prepare the site for the placement of dental implants. Some patients have such minimal amounts of bone in these areas that dental implants cannot be placed. In these cases, a combination of cadaver bone and platelet-rich plasma is placed on the sinus floor through a small incision inside your mouth. After several months of healing, the grafted bone on the sinus floor becomes part of the patient’s jaw. Dental implants can then be inserted and stabilized in this new sinus bone.
If enough bone between the upper jaw ridge and the bottom of the sinus is available to give sufficient initial stabilization of the dental implant, then sinus grafting and implant placement can be performed at the same time.
The sinus graft makes it possible for many patients to have dental implants when years ago there was no other option other than wearing loose dentures.