Dental implants are the preferred option for assisting patients who have lost their teeth due to accident or wear and tear. Patients experience increased confidence with dental implants, as the fixtures are secure, and the replacement teeth are manufactured to match those in the rest of the mouth. Consequently, an aesthetically pleasing smile is the result.
The implants, made of a thin rod of titanium, are implanted into the root area of the tooth to allow restoration work to take place. There are different forms of dental implants and the most suitable form will be determined by your dentist.
The most common and most popular are the Root Form Implants. These take the form of screws with a collar at one end. They are the closest in shape to the root of the tooth. Root form implants are inserted into the jawbone so that replacement teeth can be affixed to them.
First, the area to be treated is numbed so that small incisions can be made into the gums to expose the jawbone. The implant is inserted into place through this incision, and then small sutures are used to stitch the gum back together.
Over a period of 3 to 6 months, a process called osseointegration takes place. This is when the bone and the implant fuse together to form a strong bond, fixing the implant in place. It is a natural process; hence, the length of time needed before restorations can be affixed to the implant.
Once the healing process has taken place, the implant is ready to be put to use. A second incision is made at the site of the implant, and an extension, or abutment is affixed to it using adhesive. This forms the connection between the implant and the replacement tooth.
The next step is to take impressions of the mouth and the rest of the teeth. These will be sent to a dental laboratory and will be used to make the artificial tooth or crown. In the meantime, your dentist will affix a temporary tooth. During the final stage, the replacement tooth, once ready, will either be cemented or screwed onto the abutment.
Who are the right candidates for this procedure?
Anyone with a wide jawbone can accommodate the implants; however there are a small number of people whose jawbones are too narrow and slight. In this instance, an alternative procedure called Plate Form Implants is more appropriate.
Plate form implants involve the insertion of a slim metal plate into the jawbone. A series of small incisions are made along the gum to expose the jawbone, and then the bone is prepared for accepting the flat plate. The plate is inserted via the incisions, and the gum is then stitched up again.
The dentist may choose to allow a healing period of up to a few months to allow osseointegration to take place, or, in some instances, may affix teeth straight away in a process called Immediate Loading.
Some patients are not suited to either of these procedures, because of the structure of their jawbone. They will be considered for a different treatment called the Subperiosteal Implant.
There are two approaches to the Subperiosteal implant – the dual surgery and single surgery method.
During the dual surgery method, the dentist will expose the jawbone and take an impression of it so that a special custom-made plate can be made. This will fit the size and shape of the jawbone exactly. The second part of the procedure is to expose the jawbone again to insert the new plate. The gums are closed with small sutures, and replacement teeth are put in place.
The single surgery technique is a little more advanced. It uses a CAT scan of the jawbone to produce a computer generated model which is then used to custom make a plate. Insertion of this plate is via the same process as the dual su rgery method.
Where there is insufficient bone structure at the site of the implants, it is possible to add bone grafts from a donor area, such as the chin or even the lower leg or the hip. These are grafted onto the existing bone using small bone screws that can be removed once the bone graft has had time to heal and fuse with the existing bone.
Any gaps around the graft are then filled in with powdered bone to ensure there are no gaps that could create future problems. Patients are then required to wait 4 to 6 months before implants can be added, to ensure a strong base is created.
So, what are the advantages of dental implants?
It is common for many people who have lost their teeth, to use dentures, or a bridge to fill in the gaps. Dental implants provide a more long lasting, and aesthetically pleasing result than these traditional techniques. They are also more robust when put under pressure.
Bridges need to be affixed to healthy teeth, which must be treated and chipped away to accommodate them. This is not ideal. In contrast, healthy teeth are not affected by inserting dental implants.
Dentures on the other hand, are not a permanent fixture, and need to be removed at night.
Not everyone is suited to receiving dental implants however. Candidates must be in good oral as well as physical health.
How much do dental implants cost?
Dental implants start at around $2,500 to $5,000 per tooth. The actual cost depends on the extent of the work needed, and the number of replacement teeth.
Dentures cost less and start around $1,000; however, anyone considering their options should be mindful that dentures do not function as well as dental implants. Bridge treatments cost about the same – $1,000 for a single tooth.
Learn About How Much Dental Implants Cost
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