Dental Implants

What are dental implants?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root placed in your jaw by a periodontist to support a replacement tooth or bridge. The result is an incredibly natural-looking and feeling tooth that can last a lifetime with proper care. Adults of all ages in good general oral health who have lost a tooth or teeth due to reasons such as periodontal disease or injury can be candidates for implants. Implants can replace one or more teeth without affecting the adjoining teeth. They can support bridges and dentures making them more secure and comfortable, as well as eliminating any need for removable partial dentures.

What is involved?
The first step is to place the titanium metal implant directly into your jaw. It looks like a small screw or cylinder. The second step involves the periodontist placing a small metal extension post called an abutment onto the implant. There are some implant systems that already have the extension piece attached and do not require this second step. The implant and bone will bond together over the next two to six months in order to form an anchor for the artificial tooth. This process is called osseointegration. Your gums will be allowed to heal for a couple of weeks following this initial procedure. When your dentist and periodontist confirm that you have sufficiently healed, then they will attach the replacement tooth to the abutment.

What should I know before receiving a dental implant?
Additional procedures may be required based on the location of the implant, as well as the quantity and quality of the bone where the implant is to be placed. For instance, if you have lost bone in the area where the dental implant is needed, your periodontist may recommend procedures such as sinus augmentation or ridge modification to build up the bone structure to hold the implant. A sinus augmentation is designed to correct this problem in the upper jaw by cutting a small circle into the bone, lifting it into the sinus cavity, and filling the space underneath with bone graft material. A ridge modification is a procedure in which bone graft material is used to correct deformities caused by periodontal disease, developmental defects, or injury to the jaw. Ridge modification can be done on the upper or lower jaw.

Your dentist and periodontist will work with you to decide the best treatment plan for a dental implant procedure based on your individual situation.