Dental implants have changed the way people live. With a dental implant, a person who has lost teeth is able to regain the ability to eat virtually anything, and the teeth appear natural with facial contours preserved. Dental implants are a foundation for replacement teeth, which look, feel, and function like natural teeth. Patients who have undergone dental implants can smile with confidence.
Dental implants are tiny titanium posts that a surgeon gently places into the jawbone. These anchors act as tooth-root substitutes. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Small posts that protrude through the gums are then attached to the implant, providing stable anchors for the crown. Additionally, implants preserve the facial structure, preventing bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.
The Surgical Procedure
Most often, placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures. The implants are first placed within the jawbone. Over the first three to six months from the first procedure, the implants will gradually bond with the jawbone, a period known as the healing period.
Once the implant has bonded to the bone, the second phase begins. The surgeon uncovers the implants and attaches small posts that protrude through the gums to act as anchors for the artificial teeth. On placing the artificial teeth, the posts are not seen. The entire dental implant procedure usually takes six to eight months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.
Surgical Advances Enable Single Stage Implants
Recent advances in dental-implant technology enable single stage implants. Single stage implants eliminate the need for a second procedure to uncover them, but require a minimum of six weeks of healing time before artificial teeth are placed. In some situations, the implant can be placed at the same time as a tooth extraction. This further minimizes the number of surgical procedures involved.
Dental implants require a team effort from an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon performs the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extraction, and bone grafting, while a restorative dentist fits and makes the permanent prosthesis.
Types of Prosthesis Available
A single prosthesis (crown) replaces one missing tooth, with each prosthetic tooth attaching to its own implant. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) is for replacement of two or more teeth and may require only two or three implants. A complete dental prosthesis (fixed bridge) replaces all the teeth in the upper or lower jaw. The number of implants varies, depending on the type of complete prosthesis.
There are two kinds of prosthesis – one removable and one fixed. A fixed prosthesis is permanent and removable only by the dentist. A removable prosthesis (over dentures) attaches to a bar or ball in socket attachments.
Our doctors have extensive training in dental implant surgery, including everything from the simple placement of a single implant to comprehensive treatment requiring multiple implants, grafting and reconstructive techniques. If you are considering dental implants, contact Austin Oral Surgery today.