Providing restoration with a sure foundation
Sometimes, permanent teeth are lost due to accident, injury, disease or extraction. In such cases, dental implants may be considered as a secure, functional replacement option because they do not rely on neighboring teeth for support. Permanently, surgically anchored to the jawbone as tooth root substitutes, implants restore normal eating ability, provide face muscle support, and prevent jawbone atrophy. Implants are tiny posts, made of either a metallic or bone-like ceramic material. One variety is inserted into the jawbone below the gum surface, at the location of the missing tooth.
The bone then bonds to the post and forms a secure foundation onto which artificial teeth may be attached and shaped to match the patient's existing teeth. If the jawbone is insufficient for such as procedure, a custom-made metal framework can be fitted directly onto the existing bone instead. Implants may also provide an anchor for bridgework. The implant process generally requires a couple of separate steps, "anchoring" and then "attachment".
In most implant situations, the first step surgically anchors the tooth root substitute "post" into the jaw-bone below the gum tissue. To form a solid, enduring base with sufficient stability to withstand the tremendous mechanical pressure involved in normal chewing, this post will typically be allowed to incorporate into the bone for 12 weeks to 6 months. The presence of these inserts is generally not noticeable by the patient. During the wait, a temporary bridge or dentures may be provided to facilitate eating and to help maintain facial muscle support. In the meantime, carefully designed artificial teeth are custom manufactured for use over the implant tops.
Once the implant post has bonded with the jawbone, a second surgery fixes the top of the implant onto the anchor post. To accomplish this, each implant anchor is carefully uncovered, connected to a small post that protrudes above the gum-line, and completely covered with a previously designed, custom-made artificial tooth. The result is a secure, attractive, replacement tooth or set of teeth, designed to function as effectively as the remaining natural teeth. Depending on the number of teeth involved, this final step in the implant process usually requires no more than two months to complete.
Those unfamiliar with implant technology may question the success rate of such procedures. The technology is approximately 20 years old, and has proven successful in tooth replacement, depending primarily on the recipient's health, as well as the location and function of the teeth being replaced. Teeth placed in the lower front jaw may be up to 95% successful, while side or rear placements may be only 85% successful. It's also best if recipients are in good general health, with proper bone structure and healthy gums. Often, people unable to wear dentures are among those who benefit most from implants. On the other hand, chronic health problems such as clenching, bruxism, or systemic diseases may decrease the success rate of the procedure immensely. Finally, those who smoke or drink alcohol may also be poor candidates for implants.
Cost & Commitment
Due to the surgery involved, implant procedures are typically more expensive than traditional bridgework. However, dental and medical insurance may cover portions of such restoration. It's best to discuss this with us during your evaluation for implant placement, so that we can assist you in working with your insurance company.
Finally, implant candidates should seriously consider their own commitment to future oral health. In fact, poor oral hygiene itself is a common cause of implant failure. So, you'll want to be sure and brush and floss around your fixtures at least twice a day, according to the specific instructions we give you. Further, you may need up to four annual professional cleanings to maintain healthy gums.