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Dental Implants

 

IMPLANTS

If a tooth or several teeth are lost, dental implants can be a wonderful way to replace those missing teeth.

A dental implant is a titanium screw or cylinder that is placed into the bone where a tooth was lost.  In time through a process called osteointegration which takes place over several months, the bone fuses to the titanium implants.  The implant acts as a manmade root onto which a crown of a tooth can be placed which often looks and feels as natural as the natural tooth that was lost.

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Dental implants can also prevent bone from being lost in the jaw after the loss of a tooth or teeth.   Bone starts to erode soon after a tooth is lost.  Since dental implants provide a stimulus that maintains the bone where a tooth was lost, bone is preserved.

Single Tooth Replacement:

Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth or if more than one implant is used, they can be used to replace multiple teeth or even a full arch.

Single Tooth Replacement:

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The alternative of using an implant to replace a missing tooth would be a fixed bridge or some form of a partial denture.

A fixed bridge to replace a single lost tooth would require shaving down usually one adjacent tooth on either side of the tooth which was lost.  This can sacrifice the long term health of those natural teeth.    Since the bone in the position of the dummy tooth is not stimulated by a tooth or implant, bone will be lost under that replacement tooth.

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Multiple Tooth Replacement:

If several teeth are missing, either multiple single implants or an implant supported bridge can replace them.

Implant supported bridges do not require any invasive treatment to the adjacent natural teeth. Those natural teeth are subjected to less stress than would be seen if they supported either a conventional bridge or a partial denture which would be the alternatives to replacing multiple teeth without implants.

Multiple Implants

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Conventional Bridge

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Partial Denture

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Implant Supported Full Denture:

When all of a person’s teeth have been lost or are not salvageable, the alternative to replacing this person’s teeth has always been a full denture.  That denture would be given to the patient at the time when all remaining teeth where   taken out or sometime after when the gums have healed.

Full Denture

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Dentures can be difficult to chew foods that an individual may have been used to eating when they had their own teeth.  They in time can become loose and sores on the gums may develop.

Implants have been used to anchor dentures, vastly increasing their stability.  Some form of an attachment between the denture and the implant is used.  That attachment may take the form of clips in the denture connecting to a bar placed between multiple implants.  Another type of attachment utilizes a retentive cup or socket in the denture that engages an extension or ball attachment placed on the implant.  In any of these scenarios, the denture must still be taken out to clean the denture and to clean around the implants.

Full Denture With Attachment

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“All On Four”

More recently as few as four implants strategically placed can be used to replace a full arch of teeth. After taking digital images and impressions of a patient’s mouth, a surgery is planned where at the time of surgery implants can be placed at the same time that the individual’s teeth are removed. Often those implants are secure enough that a full arch of teeth can be delivered the same day. These teeth are screwed directly into the implants and can only be removed by the dentist. This set of teeth is often made out of acrylic with metal sleeves that the screws are placed into. After several months of healing, this acrylic set is replaced by another more durable set made from zirconium or another strong and esthetic material. If, at the time of surgery, the implants are not deemed secure enough to load right away a temporary denture will be given to the patient to wear. After integration of the implants with the patient’s jaw bone, the denture can be replaced by a new set of teeth anchored to the implants as described above. It is often recommended to place more than four implants to attach these teeth too. Although placing more than the minimum of four implants increases cost, if at some time one implant is lost, built in redundancy can prevent greater cost in the future.

All On Four

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Although this implant supported set of teeth will never develop cavities, the implants supporting them can develop gum disease similar to natural teeth.  It will be important for a patient receiving implant supported teeth to see their dentist on a regular basis to have their periodontal health around the implants maintained.

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