A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Dental implants are an ideal option for people in good general oral health who have lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, an injury, or some other reason. If you still have questions after reading this information, have a conversation with your dentist.
What procedures may have to be completed before placing my implant?
A procedure called “socket preservation” is sometimes needed to preserve bone and minimize bone loss adjacent to a tooth that has been removed. One common technique is to fill the socket with bone or bone substitute and allow the bone to heal for approximately three to six months before implant placement.
For dental implants to be successful, the jawbone must have enough bone to support them. Tooth loss often leads to more loss of bone. The tooth loss may be caused by periodontal (gum) disease, dental caries (cavities) and infection, injury or trauma, or a developmental defect. If the bone under your gum is not tall enough, not wide enough or both, you will need a procedure to add bone to your jaw before implants can be placed.
Bone augmentation is a term that describes a variety of procedures used to “build” bone so that dental implants can be placed. These procedures typically involve grafting, adding bone or moving bone from one area of the jaw to another. The graft can be your own bone (Autograft) or be processed bone obtained from a cadaver (Allograft). After grafting, you have to wait several months for the grafted material to remodel into your own bone. A graft from your own bone transplants bone cells or a block of bone that fuses to the jaw.
Dr. Wittmus uses OraGraft® LifeNet Health® bone augmentation material exclusively. It is a mix of cortical and cancellous bone material indicated for use after extractions. When Oragraft® is mixed with bone morphogenic proteins and placed into a socket following an extraction, the wound brings immune cells and blood supply into the extraction socket as it heals. A collagen membrane, or plug, is added to allow tissue to grow over the new bone. The mixture stimulates growth of the patient’s own bone at an accelerated pace, and after it heals in 3 to 6 months, it turns into the patient’s own bone (remodeling).
What are the advantages of an implant over a bridge or denture?
A dental implant provides several advantages over other tooth replacement options, including:
- Maintain the integrity of your remaining teeth. In addition to looking and functioning like a natural tooth, a dental implant replaces a single tooth without sacrificing the health of neighboring teeth. The other common treatment for the loss of a single tooth, a tooth-supported fixed bridge, requires that the adjacent teeth be ground down to support the cemented bridge. When replacing multiple teeth, bridges and partial dentures rely on support from adjacent teeth, while implant-supported bridges do not.
- Maintain bone health. Because a dental implant will replace your tooth root, your jawbone is better preserved. Implants integrate with your jawbone, helping to keep your bone healthy and intact. With a bridge or denture, some of the bone that previously surrounded the tooth starts to deteriorate.
- Long-term benefits. In the long term, implants are esthetic, functional, and comfortable. On the other hand, gums and bone can recede around a bridge or denture which leaves a visible defect, deteriorated bone from bridges and dentures can lead to a collapsed and unattractive smile, and cement holding bridges in place can wash out, allowing bacteria to decay the teeth that are anchoring the bridge. Finally, removable dentures can move around in your mouth, reducing your ability to eat certain foods.