Dental implants are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth or is born with a tooth congenitally missing regains the ability to eat virtually anything and smile with confidence.
What Are Dental Implants?
The implants themselves are titanium posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors act as tooth root substitutes. The jawbone bonds with the titanium over several months, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. When implants are fully integrated, you are restored by your general dentist fabricating specially crafted crowns that attach to small, screw-like abutments.
Types Of Restorations
Dental implant placement is a team effort between an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. While Dr. La Puma performs the initial tooth extractions, bone grafting if necessary, and the implant surgery, your dentist fits and crafts the permanent restoration. Your restoring dentist may also fabricate a temporary aesthetic prosthesis (flipper) if you desire while the implant heals.
Upon full integration of the implant several restorations are available. A single restoration (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth – each crown attached to its own implant. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) can replace multiple teeth and may require several implants. A complete dental prosthesis (fixed denture) replaces all teeth in your upper or lower arch and is anchored to the jaw with several implants.
Each solution restores full function and aesthetics to a tooth, area, or arch.
The Implant Process
The implant process begins with a consultation and bone height evaluation three months after tooth extraction. If you are a candidate for surgery, and do not require bone grafting, a set of impressions is taken and surgical stent is fabricated. Two weeks following you are scheduled for implant surgery with your choice of anesthesia. For the next two to four months the implant remains beneath the surface of the gums bonding with the jawbone. You will be scheduled for several post-operative appointments during this time. You may prefer to wear a temporary appliance for aesthetics that is fabricated by your dentist, but it is not required.
After the implant has bonded with the jawbone, a small abutment is attached that protrudes through the gums and will act as an anchor for an artificial tooth. When the final restoration is placed by your general dentist, this post will not be seen. The entire process usually takes two to four months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Dr. La Puma is able to place single stage implants - placing the implant at the same time as a tooth extraction – further minimizing the number of surgical procedures and wait time. It is also now possible to immediately provisionalize implants - placing a temporary crown during healing time and eliminating the need for an aesthetic appliance.