Dental Implant Therapy is rapidly becoming the most ideal and conservative method of permanently replacing one or more missing teeth. This remarkable advancement in dental treatment, along with advances in bone graft techniques, biomaterials, and bioengineering, have made dental implants the standard of care and the treatment of choice for the 21st century.
A Dental Implant is a biocompatible titanium fixture that in many ways resembles a miniature machined cylinder with threads. This fixture is surgically placed in the jaw bone and allowed to integrate into the bone, meaning the jaw bone grows into and around the titanium threading. After bone healing has completed and the implant has successfully anchored itself into the bone, the implant can be restored with a Post (abutment) and Crown like a conventional tooth.
It must be pointed out that not every patient will be a candidate for Dental Implants. For patients who are missing one or more teeth, a detailed and comprehensive examination will be required in order to determine whether or which they will be a candidate for a dental implant. During the examination process, the overall condition of the mouth will be evaluated. Information is gathered regarding the health of the gums, quality and quantity of underlying bone, position of the teeth, occlusal analysis, projected cosmetic result, and the general overall health of the patient will contribute to the patient assessment for candidacy for dental implants. Routine x-rays will be necessary to help visualize the teeth and jawbone. In many instances, a CAT Scan may be required to precisely determine bone contours and the position of vital anatomical structures.
Impressions and study casts of the teeth and gums contribute to the careful clinical evaluation. Once all the information has been gathered and recorded, Dr. Fitzpatrick will advise the patient as to whether they will be a candidate for a dental implant. While the process sounds complicated, the fact is that most patients are good candidates for dental implants. We will then determine which type of dental implant restoration best suits your needs and answer any questions you might have regarding the process or any other aspect regarding the dental implant procedure.
An overview of the dental implant process in simplified terms can be divided into 4 Steps:
Step 1: Implant Placement…….Using routine dental anesthetic, the general dentist, oral surgeon or periodontist lifts the gum tissue away from the intended implant site and performs a precise and gentle technique to place the dental implant fixture into the jawbone. The gum is then repositioned over the implant and sutured. Most patients experience no major discomfort after the procedure.
Step 2: Osseointegration Period……The dental implant fixture will be left undisturbed in the jawbone for a period of approximately four to six months. During this time, the bone attaches to the implant, both in and around the threading, and this is what we term “osseointegration”. Depending on the case type, a temporary removable denture may be worn to preserve cosmetics.
Step 3: Abutment Attachment…….Once osseointegration of the implant is complete, the dentist, oral surgeon, or periodontist exposes the top of the implant and attaches a post or in dental implant terms, an abutment. This abutment is what supports the new tooth on the implant.
Step 4: Crown or Prosthetic Restoration…….Dr. Fitzpatrick will take a special impression of the implant abutment in order to custom fabricate the new implant supported tooth. Depending on the type of implant selected to best suit your individual dental criteria, the final prosthetic tooth can be attached to the implant abutment via a machined screw or simply cemented into place. The new tooth is firmly anchored into the bone and gums, and will look and feel just like a natural tooth.
In short, if you are missing a tooth or even a number of teeth for years, and have thought about doing something to “permanently” replace them, perhaps dental implants are right for you. You might be wearing a denture or partial that you are tired of taking in and out of your mouth, or are not happy with its fit, feel or cosmetics, perhaps dental implants are right for you. If you have a tooth that you know will need a future extraction, and are dreading the thought of having to wear a removable tooth or set of teeth, perhaps dental implants are right for you. If you are in generally good health, why not schedule a consultation appointment today with Dr. Fitzpatrick to find out if implants are right for you.
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