Now there is an alternative for replacing a missing tooth, missing teeth or help anchor dentures securely. Implantology has been in dentistry for decades but only in the past 10 years or so has it become much more predictable and successful. There are now thousands of implants placed each year world wide with tremendous long-term success.
Just like your real teeth, implants require very careful cleaning each and every day. Regular dental hygiene appointments are just as important (if not more so). It is true that implants can’t decay, but they are susceptible to periodontal problems just like real teeth. Smoking is a factor with implant failure and should be discontinued for long term success. Other very important factors are the correct placement of your implant in secure bone and a very correct bite to minimize stresses – these decisions are made by the doctor directing your care.
There are implants that have been successfully used for over 30 years. Now, with a better understanding of fundamentals and studies performed, we expect implants to be 95%+ successful for 30 years and most likely a lifetime.
The implant itself is made from titanium. Titanium has a very high affinity to bone. After a careful medical and dental history is taken and evaluated. Proper models, x-rays and other diagnostic tools are reviewed and the decision to use an implant has been made – the actual placement occurs. At the time of the implant placement (an office procedure, usually under an i.v. sedation) an incision is made and a “core” of bone is easily and carefully removed that corresponds exactly to the length and diameter of the implant body. The implant is seated, the tissue repositioned and sutured into place. Most people who undergo this surgery say that the discomfort is minimal post operatively.
Bone before surgery
The implant ready for placement
The implant extending through the gums
Now the implant actually “osseous integrates” (biologically fuses) to the bone. This process takes usually from 4 to 6 months. During this time, the implant remains covered over and no forces are placed on it. Dentures may be worn during this healing time. The implant top is exposed and an extension is placed so that the gums can heal to form a tight seal at the gum margin .
The crown (cap) is placed over the implant extension through a series of very precise impressions and lab procedures. Finally the finished crown is cemented or screwed into place on the implant.
Animation sequence to show the implant procedure
An X-Ray of the crown joining an implant
Bar supported by implants
Denture over bar and implants
(the bar and snaps are hidden by denture)