What are dental implants?
A natural tooth consists of a root and a crown. If you compare natural teeth to implant-supported replacement teeth, you’ll see they have the same basic parts. Both have a crown (the visible part used to chew food). Both have a root that holds the tooth securely under the gum and is anchored into the jaw. The difference is that the implant is made of titanium – the same time-tested material used by surgeons for artificial joints. When you lose a tooth, you lose both the root and the crown. To replace the tooth, the surgeon first replaces the root with a small dental implant.
Surgical Advances in Dental Implants
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Dr. Simek, Dr. Henry and Dr. Bell are able to place titanium implants. After placement, these implants require a minimum of three months of healing time before artificial teeth are placed. There are even situations where the implant can be placed at the same time as the tooth extraction – further minimizing your number of surgical procedures.
Dental implant placement is completed by Dr. Simek in our office. Drs. Simek, Henry or Bell performs the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary. After healing, he then fits and makes the permanent prosthesis. Dr Simek will also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process.
“Don’t be afraid to Smile.”
For years I’d felt like a part of my body was missing — because my teeth were. My dentist told me that dental implants would make me feel and look a lot better. OK, I said. Now, I’m thrilled. I can smile, eat anything, and enjoy a good laugh with my friends.
The Importance of Dental Implants
Missing a tooth can be bad when it comes to your looks, but did you know it can be bad for your health as well? Healthy teeth play an important role in the body as a whole. When a tooth is missing your jawbone will deteriorate, and your other teeth will have more stress applied to them. Without proper teeth to eat your diet can suffer, which negatively affects the health of your entire body. Dental implants are widely recognized as the best replacement method, and they look, feel and function just like natural teeth.
The Three Parts of a Dental Implant
Dental implants have revolutionized the way we treat missing teeth. The 3-part artificial tooth has a titanium screw that is placed in your jaw. An abutment, or connector, protrudes from the implant and holds the crown in place. The crown is the visible part of the implant.
The Miracle of Osseointergration
Implants are made of titanium and permanently bond with the jawbone through a process called osseointegration. This effective fusion of metal and bone allows for completely natural eating, chewing, and biting.
The Time Factor
You may be surprised to hear that your jawbone is a lot like a muscle in that it must be stimulated regularly in order to maintain its volume. Therefore, when a tooth is extracted (or falls out naturally), the jawbone begins to deteriorate almost immediately. In fact, studies show that within a year of tooth loss, there is a 25% decrease in bone width. Thankfully, dental implants can take the place of natural teeth to provide the stimulus needed by the jaw. If done early, this greatly reduces the need for bone grafting down the road.
- Consultation and treatment plan: During the initial phase of the dental implant process, imaging is gathered along with your medical and dental histories to give us a clear picture of your current health. We will then explore your treatment options with you to formulate a plan that ensures both your health goals and budgetary needs are met.
- Extraction: The next step is to have the tooth in question extracted. In some cases, we may be able to place the implant at the same time of extraction. In others, bone grafting will be required prior to implant placement.
- Bone grafting: It is fairly common for the jawbone to lack the mass needed to accept an implant. In that case, a bone graft will be performed first to strengthen the target area. Bone grafting is typically followed by several months of healing before the implant can be placed.
- Dental implant surgery: During the implant procedure itself, a titanium screw is inserted into your jawbone. You will be anesthetized for comfort during the surgery, which usually takes about an hour.
- Osseointegration: After placing the implant, we cover it with a healing cap and let it sit for 3 months in order to fuse with the bone.
- Final restoration: After osseointegration is complete, an abutment is placed on the implant to connect with the final crown restoration.