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.
At Story City Dental, we surgically place and restore our own implants. For more complex cases we will refer to a specialist. Sometimes the risks of placing the implant near vital structures within the bone are very high or the implant site may require extensive grafting prior to placement. In the event you were referred for placement, we will still restore it using our CEREC system.
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 to six months after socket preservation is done, which is the traditional route. We can provide both implant procedures; however, we always try to do immediate placement as it saves four to six months of healing and can better preserve the soft tissue profile that used to exist around the natural tooth.
When taken care of, implants are the best long-term solution for replacement of missing teeth and provide similar esthetics and function as the natural teeth they replace. 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, all of which are excellent options.
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 them 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 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.