What You Need to Know About Dental Implants
Implant placement and restoration
About Dental Implants
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 is 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 4-6 months after socket preservation 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.
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. 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 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 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.
The Implant Process
How Are Implants Placed?
We require a thorough dental exam, looking at your health history, prior to any dental implant placement. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, smoking, vaping, and certain medications, 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.
At Story City Dental we offer 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.
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 inserted. This hole is slightly smaller in diameter than the implant itself to allow the implant to be torque into place. 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.
Restoration & Crown Cementation
At 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.