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What are dental implants?

Dental implants serve as a reliable solution for replacing lost teeth and have gained popularity since their introduction in the mid-1960s, offering an alternative to removable dentures. They support various dental restorations like single-tooth crowns, bridges for multiple missing teeth, and even dentures for patients who are edentulous (lacking teeth).

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How does it work?

Primarily made from titanium, due to its tissue compatibility and ability to integrate with surrounding bone, dental implants have been revolutionary. Zirconia implants, which have similar bone-bonding characteristics to titanium but appearing white instead of grey-metallic, have emerged and shown comparable effectiveness.

There is extensive evidence from studies and clinical experience on the success of dental implants’ safety and convenience. Dental implants can produce natural-looking outcomes. However, just like natural teeth, diligent and careful home care and maintenance care is essential.

Peri-implant diseases can cause gum inflammation and potential damage to bone and tissues around implants. This can jeopardize their longevity. Hence, practicing good oral hygiene at home and regular dental check-ups are imperative for implant maintenance.

An implant typically comprises a titanium/zirconia screw or cylinder, inserted into the jaw’s prepared bony socket, acting as a replacement tooth’s root. The top of the implant features a specialized attachment called the abutment, connecting to the replacement tooth (crown), bridge, or denture.

Following the implant placement, a healing period of two to six months is required, during which the implant’s surface fuses with surrounding bone, termed osseointegration. This integration solidifies the implant’s stability to support artificial teeth.

Various implant procedures exist, including immediate implant placement into an extraction socket and immediate loading with a temporary crown. These approaches depend on individual suitability and the dentist’s assessment.

Implant therapy typically involves distinct stages

1. Examination

Detailed assessment by the dentist or periodontist includes physical examination, x-rays, or cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans to assess bone condition and plan implant placement accurately. CBCT scans provide three-dimensional images, crucial for bone reconstruction procedures.

2. Implant Insertion

Surgery involves making a small gum incision to expose bone, followed by implant bed preparation and insertion. Procedures may vary, with one or two-stage surgery approaches, depending on individual circumstances and bone conditions.

3. Preparation and Impression

Once gums have healed, a new impression of the mouth is taken to craft a model for constructing the crown or bridge that matches existing teeth.

4. Fitting of Crowns or Bridges

The final restoration is affixed onto the implant abutment, ensuring proper fit and functionality. Several follow-up appointments ascertain implant stability and patient satisfaction.

5. Bone Grafts and Regeneration

In cases requiring jawbone preparation, techniques like bone grafts or guided bone regeneration are employed. Bone grafts involve different types, including autogenous, allografts, xenografts, or alloplasts, aiding in bone width and height enhancement at the implant site. Guided bone regeneration facilitates bone cell proliferation in areas of bone loss, ensuring optimal regeneration.

6. Gum Grafts

Gum grafts also play a role in dental implants by improving the quality and quantity of gum tissue around the implant area. These grafts contribute to creating a stable and healthy environment for the implant, ensuring proper support and enhancing the aesthetic appearance of the restored tooth or teeth.

7. Implant Therapy

Implant therapy requires careful consideration and individualized treatment planning, emphasizing the importance of consulting with our periodontist team to determine the best-suited approach for each patient’s oral health needs.


Alternatives: What are Dentures?

For many years, patients have been forced to accept the use of removable plastic dentures to replace their missing teeth. Although they are a good option in some situations, they can appear unattractive. Aside from how they look, they can feel quite bulky, cause gagging and can become loose while eating. Fortunately, many patients who are wearing dentures can make the switch to a fixed solution with dental implants.


Plastic Dentures

Alternatives: What is a Bridge?

A bridge is another effective option for replacing missing teeth. On both sides of the gap, crowns are placed over the top of each tooth. The replacement tooth is attached to the crowns, all cemented together as one piece.

The bridge is cemented in place so it is not removable. Bridges can appear and feel quite natural, much more so than dentures. However, the supporting teeth need to be prepared and trimmed smaller, resulting in the loss of healthy enamel. Furthermore, the length of the bridge is only suitable for short gaps.


Traditional Dental Bridge

Tooth replacement with a traditional bridge

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