What You Need to Know About Dental Implants

By Dr. Binkowski

If you currently have a missing tooth and have looked at options to replace it, you have probably heard about implants. Implants are pure titanium fixtures that are embedded into the bone in the space where you are missing the tooth. Over a healing period of four to eight months, the bone will “ankylose” into the threads of the implant, and the implant will become rigidly anchored into the bone (also known as osseointegration). After a set healing period, the implant is uncovered and an implant-retained crown can be screwed internally into the implant. The fully restored implant looks and acts like a tooth — almost like it was never gone.

Where Do I Get Implants?

At Story City Dental we surgically place and restore our own implants. On rare occasions we will refer implant placement to a specialist, but usually this is because the risks of placing the implant near vital structures within the bone is very high or the implant site may require extensive grafting prior to placement. Should this be the case, you can still return to us for the implant restoration.

We offer:

  • Immediate placement
  • Staged placement
  • Implant site development
  • Implants for removable dentures
  • Implants for fixed dentures

When Can Implants Be Placed?

Implants can be placed at the time of extraction (immediate placement), barring an infection or significant loss of bone. Or they can be placed four months after socket preservation (link) is done (traditional). Story City Dental provides both implant procedures, however, we always try to do immediate placement as it saves four to six months of healing and can preserve the soft tissue profile that used to exist around the natural tooth a bit better.

Why Implants?

Implants, when taken care of, are the best long-term solution for replacement of missing teeth and provide similar esthetics and function as the natural tooth it replaces. While there are other procedures that can be done to replace a missing tooth, these options usually involve reducing the size of the teeth next to missing tooth space and placing a bridge between the prepped teeth or taking something in and out of your mouth such as a partial denture. While both of those are good options, the implant will act more like a natural tooth.

Are they just for single teeth?

Implants are not just for missing single teeth. Multiple implants can replace multiple teeth. Patients with complete dentures can have them placed to retain their dentures more securely. In fact, we routinely see patients who have complete dentures and can’t stand the dentures because they don’t stay in place when they eat, usually with the lower-jaw set (even a well-made set of dentures can still move while eating). Simply adding two implants with precision attachments to the lower jaw (with corresponding parts within the denture itself) makes a marked difference when eating; the lower denture simply will not be able to move around during eating once locked into the attachments. Other combinations include four to six implants in the upper jaw and four to six implants in the lower jaw just to have fully implant-supported dentures, allowing most of the denture material to be removed from the dentures.

Implants can benefit patients by:

  • Replacing missing teeth in the mouth without having to needlessly be reduced to allow a bridge to be made.
  • Switching from complete dentures to a fixed or removable set of implant retained teeth — and go back to eating what you ate prior to dentures.
  • Providing a long-term solution for missing teeth.

How Are Implants Placed?

To see how implants are placed and restored, as well as possible complications from placement, check out this video.

At Story City Dental, the steps involved in placing and restoring an implant include the following.

  1. A Consultation
    We require a thorough dental exam, looking at your health history, prior to any dental implant placement. Certain medical conditions reduce the success rate of implant integration and must be discussed when deciding to go ahead with placement. At the appointment, we’ll also discuss the process and what to expect post-op. X-rays of the implant site will be taken as well as diagnostic casts so that we can determine what size of implant to use. Then we will have you watch a video of what to expect.
  2. Anesthesia Options
    At Story City Dental we are proud to be the only general dentistry office that offers IV sedation for dental procedures. While not required for implant placement (most patients choose to simply be numbed with local anesthetic), it is an option that can be discussed at the consultation appointment. Most of the time surgical implant placement of one or two implants takes no longer than 60 minutes.
  3. The Surgical Procedure
    Once you are numbed, we make a small incision to displace the soft tissue at the site were the implant will be placed so that we can create a hole into the bone where the implant will be placed. This hole is slightly smaller in diameter than the implant itself to allow the implant to be torque into place (flush with the surface of the bone). Depending on the surgical site bone thickness, sometimes a graft must be placed to thicken the bone around the implant as it heals. If this is not required, then a healing abutment is placed over the implant, creating a tissue profile as the implant heals.
  4. Restoration
    At four to six months post-op, the healing abutment will be removed and a digital impression scan body is placed within the implant so that a digital image can be made for fabrication of a crown for the implant (which takes 10-14 days for fabrication).
  5. Crown Placement
    Once the crown is fabricated, you then will return for the crown to be seated on the implant.

Have questions about implants?

If you have any questions or are interested in implants, please call our office to schedule a consultation.