Note: This webpage contains graphic descriptions and illustrations of actual surgical procedures. This information is designed to help individuals make an informed decision regarding dental implants and to ensure they know what questions they have at the first appointment.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Dental Implants
At your first appointment, our dentist will perform a thorough examination of your mouth, jaw structure and existing teeth to ensure you are the ideal candidate for dental implant surgery. The condition of your jaw and gums plays a significant role in your ability to undergo this procedure. This examination may include X-rays and computer images, as well as creating a replica of your existing teeth and jaw for creating your implants.
There are many factors that can influence whether you can proceed with implants, including diabetes, allergies, medications you may take, drug or alcohol use and smoking. Existing medical conditions are unlikely to prevent you from seeking dental implants by themselves. Overall, the health of your gums and other oral tissues, along with the shape of your jaw, play a much bigger role in your candidacy for this procedure.
After the consultation, the initial surgery will place the base of the implant under your gums and into the jaw bone. Once the bone grows around the implants, they will be firmly rooted like your real teeth. This process is called osseointegration, and the process takes three to six months.
Once this first surgery heals, another procedure is performed to expose the implants and then place the abutments, which is where the false tooth will be secured. The implant post can then be loaded.
Finally, the dentist will craft a replacement tooth that will be secured in place. To create the tooth, the dentist will take impressions, check for proper tooth alignment and bridge fittings. He will also check the color of the surrounding teeth and the general shape.
In order for implants to be successful, you need good bone density in your jaw. If there are any deformities that cause inadequate bone, you may need a ridge modification. These defects can be aused by wearing dentures, periodontal disease, injury, trauma or developmental defects. These issues can cause problems in implant placement, as well as an indentation in the jaw line near the missing teeth, making it difficult to maintain and clean the area.
To perform a ridge modification, the dentist will lift the gums away from the ridge so the defect is exposed. It is then filled with bone or a bone substitute to create the ideal shape. The dentist will discuss the grafting options available to regenerate any lost bone. Once the incision is closed and healed, dental implants can be obtained. It can take anywhere from four to 12 months for the area to heal fully. This modification will improve your appearance and increase the chances of successful implants that will last for many years.
Another important element of implant placement is the sinus area. The upper back part of the jaw has long been a difficult area to access when placing implants. This is because there is less bone in this area and it is close to the sinuses. If bone loss occurs due to missing teeth or periodontal disease, you may not qualify for implants in this area. However, sinus augmentation can raise the sinus floor and enhance developing bone to give a solid foundation to your implants.
There are several techniques that can be used here. The first involves an incision that exposes the bone. A small circle is then cut into the bone. The bone removed is moved into the sinus cavity and the space beneath is filled with bone graft materials, which will regenerate the missing bone and other tissue. The incision is then closed so healing can take place, often taking four to 12 months for complete healing and bone growth. Additional healing is required once the implants are placed. In some cases, the dentist can perform the implant procedure at the same time as sinus augmentation. This procedure typically causes minimal discomfort.