Are missing teeth causing you to miss out on life? Missing teeth and loose dentures make too many people sit on the sidelines and let life pass them by. However, today’s modern treatment plans can replace everything from a single missing tooth to a completely missing arch. Ask Dr. Dufour about the different dental implant options that are available to you. Do not let another day go by without taking this important first step to restoring your confidence and your smile!
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a post that serves as a tooth root, usually made of titanium. Dental implants are most often the best treatment for missing teeth.
Stop the bone loss that can lead to premature aging
Losing one or more of your teeth starts a chain of events that can have dire physical and cosmetic consequences. The most obvious result is a gap in your smile. Less obvious is the loss of chewing function and the inability to eat a complete diet that can result from tooth loss. While these are certainly serious issues, a potentially bigger problem lies hidden beneath the surface: bone loss.
Your jawbone needs the chewing action of the teeth to stimulate it and keep it strong. Otherwise it will begin to disappear (atrophy) in the same manner that the unused muscles beneath a cast supporting a broken bone get smaller. Without the support of your teeth and facial bones, your face will begin to look prematurely aged. The good news is that tooth replacement with dental implants offers a solution to help prevent bone loss.
Tooth replacement options
Traditional treatment options for tooth replacement, Crown & Bridge and full or partial dentures, address the short-term cosmetic problem of missing teeth, but do nothing to stop bone loss. Crown & Bridge also requires that two or more healthy teeth be ground down to serve as abutments (posts) for a bridge, leaving them at a much greater risk for cavities and endodontic failure. If the original abutment teeth fail, more healthy teeth must be sacrificed to serve as posts, while you continue to lose bone beneath the bridge.
With implants, however, the healthy teeth are left alone. Dental implants, like natural teeth, also transmit chewing forces to the jawbone, which reduces bone loss. This is why many leading dental organizations now recognize dental implants as the standard of care for tooth replacement.
Who is a candidate?
Dental implants can be placed in most adults who are in good to moderate health. They are not typically placed in adolescents until they have reached their full expected physical maturity. Certain uncontrolled medical conditions may decrease the effectiveness of implant treatment, so be sure to discuss your full medical history with your doctor before beginning treatment.
Dental implant history
Even early civilizations recognized the benefit of tooth replacement. Archeologists have recovered ancient skulls where teeth were replaced by materials such as cast iron and carved sea shells. Despite primitive methods and materials, some of these early implants actually fused with the bone. This fusion is called osseointegration, and is necessary for implants to be successful.
Titanium dental implants have been placed extensively since the 1970s. Titanium offers the benefit of being lightweight and strong, and is not rejected by the body (biocompatible). It is the most widely used metal in orthopedic joint replacement and dental implants. Dental implants have the highest success rate of any implanted surgical device.
Today’s dental implants
Modern dental implants are precision devices, available in several different designs to address your specific needs. The most common type is a titanium screw that is anchored into the jawbone where it serves as post for a
custom-made tooth crown. Once the crown is in place, you may not be able to tell it apart from your natural teeth.
Dental implants let you eat the foods you love.
Dental Implants are the only proven way to prevent bone loss after the loss of natural teeth.
Research shows that implant-supported prostheses increase patient comfort.
70% of the U.S. population is missing at least one tooth.
Many social functions involve food and eating.
Single tooth replacement
An implant may be used to replace almost any missing tooth, provided there is adequate bone at the site. If not, modern bone grafting procedures can usually be performed to regenerate enough bone to safely place an implant.
The implant is placed in the bone below the gum tissue. A cosmetic temporary crown can often be made to fill the missing space. After healing, the abutment is attached to the implant. It will hold a custom-made crown that the dental laboratory will mold and match to your existing teeth.
In the final step, the custom crown is cemented onto the abutment. The tooth has been replaced without disturbing the healthy teeth next to it and bone loss has been eliminated.
Multiple tooth replacement
Implants can also be used to replace several teeth, eliminating the need to grind down healthy adjacent teeth to serve as posts for traditional Crown & Bridge therapy.
The implants are placed in the bone below the gum tissue. Like single tooth replacement, temporary abutments may be placed on the implants until the healing phase is complete. After healing, the abutments are attached to the implants. They will hold a custom-made bridge that the dental laboratory will mold and match to your existing teeth.
Implant-supported prosthesis (removable)
If all your lower teeth are missing, three to five implants may be used to support a lower denture. If all your upper teeth are missing, four or more implants may be used to support an upper denture.
The implants are positioned just below the gum tissue and given time to fuse with the bone. Temporary abutments may be placed on the implants until the healing phase is complete. Your existing denture can be modified so that it may be worn without disturbing the implants during the healing process.
The new denture will have attachments which snap or clip it into place. Your new teeth are firmly supported by the jaw, stimulating it and halting bone loss. You will be able to remove the denture easily for cleaning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is the implant placement painful?
A: No, it is usually done under local anesthesia. Most procedures can be done in your dentist’s office.
Q: How much pain will I feel after implant placement?
A: The discomfort you may feel should be minor. Your dentist may prescribe medication to alleviate any pain you may have.
Q: What can I eat after having an implant placed?
A: Your dentist will outline a diet for the next few days including some soft foods.
Q: How long does placement, healing and construction of the replacement teeth take?
A: The entire process usually takes from 3 to 9 months, depending on your treatment plan.
Q: How do I care for my implant?
A: Home care for your implants consists of brushing and flossing. Regular dental visits are required for long-term health and success.
Q: How long does an implant last?
A: If your body accepts the implant, it should last many years if cared for properly. Many implants have been in place for more than 40 years.
Q: If my body rejects an implant, what happens?
A: The implant is removed and the site is allowed to heal. Another implant can usually be placed after healing.
Q: Are dental implants covered by insurance?
A: Like most elective procedures, dental implants are not covered by most dental insurance plans. However, we are seeing an increase in acceptance by many dental plans. If you would like, we will be glad to contact your insurance company to inquire.
Q: Who will place the crown on my new implant?
A: When your implant is fully integrated with your bone, Dr. Dufour will refer you back to your general dentist to fabricate your implant crown.
"I have been a patient of Dr. Dufour's for the past several years and was referred to her by my general dentist for periodontal and implant restorative care. The two doctors have worked closely together coordinating a plan of rehabilitation for my specific and unique circumstances.
There have been numerous appointments required for my specific work. Dr. Dufour's office has been exceptional in scheduling initial and follow up appointments to fit into my own business responsibilities.
I have been well prepared by the staff for each procedure. They have been most helpful, courteous and professional. Dr. Dufour's attention to detail and concern for minimal discomfort has exceeded my expectations. I have known from the beginning what the complete plan of care would entail, so there have been no surprises.
Admittedly, I was apprehensive at first, but have found the care, attention and results to be very superior. I would have no reservations in recommending Dr. Dufour's office for someone needing her special skills and delightful demeanor."
"Over the past few years, I have had six dental implants done by Dr. Dufour. The staff has always been cordial and very accommodating. I have found Dr. Dufour to be pleasant, meticulous and most important of all, extremely competent! Her technique is impeccable. My procedures have been relatively pain free with excellent results. Dr. Dufour has really put a smile I can be proud of back on my face!"
"The day of my implants, I was in the office for a couple of hours. Dr. Dufour and her staff explained everything to me, which made me feel very comfortable about the work being done on me! Now, 10 years later...I would not want to part with my implants. They feel like my own teeth, and look fabulous!"
"I am extremely pleased with the service which Dr. Dufour provided for me! After suffering many losses that led to severe depression, having this work done was one of the final positive stepping stones that helped me to feel better about myself. Having well-fitted, functional dental work supported by dental implants changed my life in a most positive manner. I am so grateful!"
"Dr. Dufour and the office staff provided a friendly and supportive dental environment during my recent procedure.
I was prescribed Halcion (Triazolam) before my appointment for dental implants. I found the Triazolam to be a relief and helped to make my dental experience so much more comfortable. I was verbally and physically responsive throughout the entire procedure.
If anyone is having any reservations about a dental procedure, I would strongly recommend Triazolam to allow you to have the same positive experience that I have had.