What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are used to replace the roots of missing teeth.  They can anchor crowns, bridges, or an entire set of replacement teeth.  Implants are, for a lack of better description, titanium screws that are permanently placed in the the jaw bones.  With the highest success rate of any tooth replacement option and a track record spanning decades, implants are the best long term solution for missing teeth. Properly cared for, implants can last the rest of your life, making them a good value.

Implant: A titanium post that is placed into the jaw in place of a natural tooth root.  The implant integrates with the bone cells to form a durable anchor for your new teeth.

Abutment: Screw which is placed into the implant by your restorative dentist to hold the crown in place.

Crown: The tooth-like part that shows above the gum-line.  Your restorative dentist customizes the crown to look, feel and function like a natural tooth! Dental implants are virtually indistinguishable from your natural teeth.

Benefits of Dental Implants

This procedure is a team effort between you, your dentist and your periodontist. Your periodontist and dentist will consult with you to determine where and how your implant should be placed. Depending on your specific condition and the type of implant chosen, your periodontist will create a treatment plan tailored to meet your needs.

Replacing a Single Tooth: A dental implant provides several advantages over other tooth replacement options. In addition to looking and functioning like a natural tooth, a dental implant replaces a single tooth without sacrificing the health of neighboring teeth.

Replacing Several Teeth: An implant-supported bridge is similar to a regular dental bridge, but it is supported by implants and not by natural teeth. Replacing missing teeth with implant-supported crowns/bridges does not involve the adjacent natural teeth, so they are not compromised, damaged or destroyed. An implant-supported bridge will feel more secure and comfortable than a removable partial denture, which rests on the gums.

Replacing All of Your Teeth: In some cases the entire arch of teeth may need to be replaced. Historically, many people chose to have dentures made because they felt dentures were more affordable. When you consider the additional cost of fixatives, cleaning solutions and denture replacement, as well as the disadvantages of slippage, discomfort and even pain, dental implants are a far superior solution and well worth any additional cost.

Are you a candidate for dental implants?

The ideal candidate for a dental implant is in good general and oral health. Adequate bone in your jaw is needed to support the implant, and the best candidates will have healthy gum tissues that are free of periodontal disease. Some times preparation such as treatment of periodontal disease or procedures such as bone grafting must be completed prior to being a candidate for dental implants. The periodontist and your restorative create a treatment plan tailored to meet your specific needs.  Typically a treatment plan will consist of several appointments over a period of 6-12 months including. Once the periodontist is satisfied that the implants are healed and ready for restoration, you are referred back to your restorative dentist to make the final crown(s) or denture.

How does it work?

Many people realize the benefit of dental implants. Dental implants have been glorified by advertisements making them sound as simple as taking a pill or buying something at the store. The nice thing is that dental implants can be very predictable and can improve peoples lives, if they are done right. The decisions about your teeth can change your life and implants can either be a permanent chewing solution or a permanent handicap if not planned for properly. So how do you know what you are going to get? Planning, here is how.

Implant Evaluation: Dr. Dow evaluates your mouth for possible disease, reviews a 3D X-Ray to determine the safety of dental implants, and comes up with viable options. This appointment is the foundation for success. Good screening can prevent implants from causing damage as well as to help prevent disease from spreading from the gums and bone to infect a newly placed implant.

Planning: Dr. Dow uses the most advanced imaging and computer technology in the industry to create a digital plan which he shares and discusses with your restorative dentist. Once satisfied with the collaborative plan, Dr Dow can have a surgical guide fabricated which helps angle and control the surgical drills to match up 100% with where the teeth need to be. This surgical guide increases the safety by avoiding vital structures like the nerves and sinuses, avoids the need for more invasive surgery, decreases the surgery time, and decreased the chances of complications. If a tooth cannot be replaced immediately with a dental implant, then a bone graft may need to be placed. This may require additional healing time.

Treatment: Implant surgery is almost always less traumatic than when the tooth was originally lost or taken out. Care is taken to make the experience comfortable, usually through IV sedation and local anesthetic. Sometimes an implant is placed at the same time that the tooth is removed or at the same time that a bone or soft tissue graft is placed. This can be ideal to decrease the amount of required healing time as long as the final outcome is not compromised. For details see procedure below.

Healing: There are exceptions but normal healing is 3 to 4 months in the lower jaw and 4 to 6 months in the upper jaw. This time allows for the bone to grow and integrate around the implant. Following healing, you are seen by the periodontist to check the stability of the implant and the tissue surrounding that implant. Then it is time to return to your restorative dentist to get a tooth.

Restoration: Your restorative dentist takes an impression to make you a custom crown or restoration that fits your implant perfectly.

Procedure That Sets Us Apart

There are several unique steps that we follow in our placement of dental implants that set us apart from others performing implant procedures.

  • We offer sedation options which allows you to completely relax. The area is numbed and the tissue is moved out of the way.
  • The exact angle and depth of where the implant will be placed is planned in 3-dimensions digitally and a surgical guide (jig) is printed on-site prior to your implant procedure. Less invasive, safer, more accurate, less surgery time!
  • Periodontists are specialists trained in the management of soft tissue. If you have a soft tissue problem the periodontist is who you go to see.
  • Implant stability is measured at various appointments using advanced instruments, ensuring that the implant is not loaded before it is ready.
  • Digital x-rays are taken throughout the treatment to double check the progress.
  • We only place the highest quality dental implants and materials into your body.
  • Once the implant has integrated we communicate with your restorative dentist and provide the necessary components and instruments to them to ensure a smooth process

After Receiving Dental Implants

Dental implants are like your own teeth and will require you to keep them clean and plaque free with proper brushing and flossing. Periodic follow up appointments are recommended to monitor your implant, teeth, and gums to make sure they stay healthy. Please ask your dentist or periodontist for more information on properly maintaining your dental implant.