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) and 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.
Time is allowed for bone to heal and grow around the dental implant. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. A support post (abutment) is then connected to the implant and a new replacement tooth (crown) is placed on top of the abutment. In many cases a temporary replacement tooth can be attached to the implant immediately after it is placed. If all of your teeth are missing, a variety of treatment options are available to support the replacement teeth.
Dental Implants Presentation
To provide you with a better understanding of dental implants, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to dental implants are discussed.
“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.”
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Dr. Park and Dr. Lindquist are able to place single stage implants. These implants do not require a second procedure to uncover them, but do require a minimum of six weeks 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 a team effort between an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. Our surgeons perform the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary. The restorative dentist (your dentist) fits and makes the permanent prosthesis. Your dentist will also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process.
Why Should You Consider Dental Implants?
Dental implants have been available for several decades. However, for most patients, they are still a relatively new concept. When considering the cost of dental implants and comparing quotes, there are several important points that should be kept in mind.
When comparing the cost of dental implants to other tooth replacement methods such as dentures and bridges, it is important to take into consideration the longevity offered by dental implants that is not always afforded by other, more traditional methods.
While dentures and bridges are initially less expensive, their affordability can be short-lived. Because these older methods require repair and replacement every 5-10 years, they are often more expensive over time. By contrast, dental implants, when properly placed and cared for, can last a lifetime.
Jaw Bone Health
Over time, when a tooth is missing, the jaw bone deteriorates. So while a denture or bridge may seem to function similarly to a tooth, underneath the surface damage is being done to the jaw bone and ultimately to the structure of the face. This can result in the distortion of the shape of a person’s face, leading to additional cosmetic costs down the road.
On the other hand, dental implants are made of titanium, which actually integrates with the jaw bone, strengthening it and stimulating bone growth. This preserves the natural strength and quality of the mouth, lessening problems in the future.
Quality of Life
Dental implants can be seen as a long-term investment not only in terms of money, but also in terms of quality of life. A dental implant is the closest thing to a natural tooth. In addition to allowing the patient to eat the same healthy foods he or she has always enjoyed, it also eliminates the day-to-day hassles and possible embarrassment that are frequently caused by dentures.
Dental Implants are an investment in your health as well as your appearance. A full set of teeth makes eating a pleasure again, making it easier to eat a balanced, healthy diet. A full set of teeth also preserves the contours of the face, keeping you from looking old before your time.
There are several steps, and often multiple professionals involved in the placement of a dental implant for your best outcome.
- Tooth extraction and bone grafting
- Placement of the titanium root “dental implant”
- Placement of the healing cap or abutment
- Placement of the crown
- Post operative care