Tooth loss is something no one looks forward to. If you lose one or more teeth, you have a number of options, one of which is dental implants. You owe it to yourself to be informed as possible about these options. With this in mind, we’ve created this section on dental implants. To begin learning more about dental implants for tooth replacement, click the blue “Continue” arrow below or choose from one the subtopics on the list that follows.
DENTAL IMPLANTS - AN OVERVIEW
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are fixtures of titanium which are surgically screwed into your jaw bone. The implant is an anchor for a naturally-appearing false tooth or a set of false teeth. The success rate of dental implants depends on where the implants are placed and their purpose. They are typically best placed in the front portion of your lower jaw. Implants are great for replacing missing teeth. It is important that you have enough bone in the area of the missing teeth for the implants to be attached to. Implants are not only used to replace one tooth, but rather people missing most, if not all, of their teeth benefit greatly as well. Implants are increasingly being used to replace certain types of bridges and removable partial dentures.
WHO IS A CANDIDATE FOR DENTAL IMPLANTS?
If you’re missing one tooth or all of your teeth, implants may well be for you. So long as you have enough bone in the area of the missing tooth to facilitate the anchorage of the implants, this procedure can yield terrific results. If you don’t have enough bone for this purpose, a bone graft may be necessary. If you have a small dental bridge or partial dentures (removable type), implants will be a welcome alternative. Implants are an alternative to a fixed bridge. The implant will last a lifetime, but the crown on top of it will last ten to fifteen years.
DENTAL IMPLANTS - PROCEDURE DESCRIPTION
Overview of Dental Implants
Implants are surgically placed in your jaw bone while under anesthesia. It is a very time consuming procedure when having many implants placed. As this procedure is surgical, it is very important to research and find a well credited cosmetic dentist that you are comfortable with. For some people there are varying degrees discomfort or pain, which subsides in a couple of days. As with similar types of surgery, bruising and minor swelling might also develop shortly after the procedure.
How are Dental Implants Attached in Your Mouth?
The implant procedure is a surgical placement of the implant or implants in your jaw bone which requires a three to six month healing period before the implant restoration (crown) will be placed. During this healing time, the bone grows in and around the titanium implant creating a very strong support. Dental implants can be rejected. Usually they are replaced with another implant of a slightly larger size. The rejection or “failure” rate is minimal, only 1 to 2% of all implant procedures. You must go without wearing your dentures for one day to two weeks after an implant placement. After the implant has “taken” and you have sufficiently healed, a very natural crown is placed on the implant.
When missing one tooth, your cosmetic dentist may use a Flipper to fill the space. A Flipper is a false tooth to temporarily take the place of a missing tooth before the permanent crown is placed on the implant. A Flipper can be attached via either a wire or a plastic piece that fits in the roof of your mouth. Flippers are meant to be a temporary solution while awaiting the permanent crown to be placed on your implant(s).
If you’re missing one tooth or all of your teeth, implants may well be for you. So long as you have enough bone in the area of the missing tooth to facilitate the anchorage of the implants, this procedure can yield terrific results. If you don’t have enough bone for this purpose, a bone graft may be necessary. A procedure of building up the bone is known as Bone Grafting. Bone grafting is common with dental implants. The bone that is used is one of three types. The preferred bone to use is taken from other areas of your mouth or collected in a suction device as the drilling of the sites for dental implants occurs. Sometimes bone is taken from areas such as a hip (this requires an orthopedic surgeon and an operating room). The third source for needed bone is a synthetic type. This is the least preferred type of bone to be used for this procedure.
TYPES OF DENTAL IMPLANT PROCEDURES
Implants rely on titanium fixtures inserted into the jawbone. Most implants are made of titanium, which is very effective at fusing with living bone (osseointegration). There are three types of dental implants which your cosmetic dentist will discuss with you:
Root Form Implant
This screw type implant is shaped like the root of a tooth. This is the most commonly used implant and is used where there is plenty of width and depth to your jawbone. If your jawbone is too narrow or short for placement of the Root Form implants, bone grafting may be needed to allow for their placement. After you’ve received anesthesia, your cosmetic dentist will expose an area of your jawbone and prepare the bone for the implant. The number of incisions and bone preparations depend on how many implants you need. The implant will be set into place and your gums are closed with stitches. It will take three to six months for healing. After you’ve fully healed, your implant is uncovered and an abutment is attached.
Plate Form Implant
If your jawbone is too narrow for bone grafting, a Plate Form implant is placed into your jawbone. The Plate Form implant is unique for this purpose as it has a flat and long shape for a better fit into a narrow jawbone. After you’ve received anesthesia, your cosmetic dentist will expose an area of your jawbone and prepare the bone for the implant. The number of incisions and bone preparations depend on how many implants you need. The implant will be set into place and your gums are closed with stitches. It will take three to six months for healing (some Plate Form implants are immediately ready for restoration without the long healing process).
If there’s not enough bone width or height for the Root Form or Plate Form implants, the Subperiosteal implant is recommended. The Subperiosteal implant is custom made to rest on top of your jawbone and under your gums like the Plate Form implant, but the Subperiosteal implant is placed through one of two special methods.
The first method of placement involves your cosmetic dentist making an impression of your jawbone. After you’ve received anesthesia, your cosmetic dentist exposes your jawbone and takes an impression of it. The impression is used by a dental laboratory to make a custom-fit implant for your jaw. The next procedure, after your custom-fit implant is created, is to again expose your jawbone and place the implant. Your gums are then closed with stitches and replacement teeth are installed.
The second method of placement requires a CAT scan of your jawbone. Through computer modeling techniques, a model of your jawbone is made from the CAT information. The next procedure, after your custom-fit Subperiosteal implant is created by a dental laboratory, is to again expose your jawbone and place the implant. Your gums are then closed with stitches and replacement teeth are installed.
HOW MUCH DO DENTAL IMPLANTS COST?
Dental implants can be a costly procedure. An entire team of professionals is often needed to deliver a long-lasting smile. Implant procedures demand a great deal of the doctor’s and staff’s time and effort. The prosthodontist intensely studies your health profile, and then develops a plan to meet your unique needs. Additionally, surgical staff and the laboratory perform several services to produce the desired result. The materials used to construct implant prosthodontics are also very expensive. Bone grafting, if needed, is additionally costly.
While a basic implant is typically $1,250. to $3,000., depending on your circumstances additional costs for things such as in the case of a posterior mandible, bone regeneration, sinus elevation, and wide diameter or narrow diameter implants quickly escalate to as much as $15,000 to $30,000. for the complete procedure for the upper or lower jaw.
THINGS TO CONSIDER - ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF DENTAL IMPLANTS
Pros and Cons of Dental Implants
As our life span increases, a permanent dental replacement like implants is increasingly important as we get older. While dentures and removable bridges are usually loose and unstable, implants provide you with dental replacements that are both natural looking and very functional. Implants look much better, and feel better, than traditional removable bridges, and offer the same force for biting as bridges that are fixed in place. Implants will last your lifetime.
Implants are a major investment and not without risk. The extensive use of implants can cost tens of thousands of dollars to achieve a great result. It is also a very time consuming procedure when having many implants placed. As this procedure is surgery, it is very important to research and find a well credited cosmetic dentist that you are comfortable with. For some people there are varying degrees discomfort or pain, which subsides in a couple of days. As with similar types of surgery, bruising and minor swelling might also develop shortly after the procedure. The crown (false tooth placed on top) will need to be replaced in ten to fifteen years.
DENTAL IMPLANTS - BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS
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CHOOSING THE COLOR OF THE DENTAL IMPLANT CROWN
How to choose the color of dental implants?
When considering dental implants a common question is how white the dental implants should be. Usually, the answer is to whiten your natural teeth to either the level of whiteness you want or to the brightest they can be. Your cosmetic dentist will then have the dental implants made to that color. Teeth are of course not monochromatic, so typically more than one color is used to create a very natural look. This color variation is critical in avoiding fake or artificial looking teeth. It is the internal contrast of colors that help create vitality. The internal play of light on the porcelain in the restoration helps to create this vitality. Surface texture is also very important, and helps to break up light reflections and make the dental implants look more natural.
There is no one standard system in the dental field to measure and determine tooth color. The most often heard about, however, is the Vita shade guide. This guide divides tooth color into four basic shade ranges:
A (reddish brown)
B (reddish yellow)
D (reddish gray).
In the A range there are five levels of darkness. Ranges B, C and D, each have four levels.
Not all of your teeth are the same natural color. Usually your eye teeth tend to be darker than the others, your front teeth are typically the whitest, and molars tend to be a shade between the two. The goal for everyone is to achieve their individual optimum whiteness while still looking natural.
Most dentists will show you a shade chart (like the above mentioned Vita Shade Guide) for you to pick from. Keep in mind, with a good cosmetic dentist this is merely a starting point. Other considerations when determining the color of dental implants for each patient are your complexion, hair color, the color of your natural teeth and even your eye color.