If you have lost a tooth or teeth, you deserve to smile with confidence. Instead of dentures or partials, people can have the look and feel of real teeth when they choose dental implants.
More than 35 years ago, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon laid the foundation for this type of oral rehabilitation. Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark is considered a pioneer in the research that led to today’s implants. As you will learn in your consultation, recent developments can shorten the treatment’s time line.
BENEFITS OF DENTAL IMPLANTS
Compared to the alternative (dentures, partials, and/or missing teeth), dental implants look natural, and they maintain the natural facial contours of the patient. They are as useful as any original tooth, staying in place when you chew even the toughest or hardest foods. The process actually promotes bone preservation in the area where the original tooth has been lost.
Our patients tell us that dental implants give them peace of mind, restore their confidence, and end their embarrassment over tooth loss. In comparison, dentures don’t always fit well. They may slip while the patient is eating. Furthermore, dentures and partials must be removed at night for cleaning. These dental inserts are temporary and cannot protect the bone from deterioration.
Today’s dental implants are made of two important pieces: a titanium post and an artificial tooth. You may replace a single tooth, multiple teeth or a whole row of teeth using this procedure. Your titanium implants start below the surface, bonding to the bone over time. A small post is above the gum line. The crown or bridge is attached to this stable anchor. The process can take as long as six months.
Dr. Nolen and Dr. Fernando are pleased to announce that recent advances allow them to do single stage implants. This can drastically reduce the time it takes before the artificial teeth can be placed.
Also saving time,, the surgeon may be able to place the implant during a tooth extraction. This is just another reason to act decisively when you have dental issues.
At your initial visit with Dr. Nolen or Dr. Fernando, you can discuss which teeth you need to replace and the best way to proceed. Your medical history and current dental health may play in a role in your final decision. If your mouth has already experienced some bone deterioration, your doctor may recommend bone grafting to ensure a positive outcome.
UNDERSTANDING THE SURGERY PROCESS
STEP ONE: Your first implant is surgically inserted beneath the gum. The metal anchor is placed where it can begin to bond with the bone.
STEP TWO: As needed, temporary dentures/bridges make it possible for you to eat soft foods.
STEP THREE: The doctor will check regularly to determine if the implant has bonded with the jawbone. Once the doctor is satisfied that the anchor is permanent, a second surgery attaches a small post that protrudes through the gum.
STEP FOUR: After this, a replacement tooth (or teeth) is made and inserted permanently onto the post.
A TEAM EFFORT
As Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons, Dr. Nolen and Dr. Fernando are responsible for any tooth extractions, any necessary bone grafting, and actual implant surgery. They will work with your regular dentist, who is responsible for your temporary and permanent prosthesis (tooth or bridge).
Local anesthesia is often enough to accomplish the implant and bone graft needed. In some cases, general anesthesia can be applied.
OFFICE VISIT OR HOSPITAL VISIT
Your implants are generally performed in our office. We have a hospital-style operating suite with all of the tools we need for effective work. In some cases, patients may need to have inpatient hospital implant surgery. This is needed if the jaw bone requires a graft (generally from the hip or tibia). It may be needed for patients who have anesthesia issues or who have extreme medical issues.
In either case, eating and drinking must cease at least eight hours before surgery. Patients should plan on having a friend or family member drive them home.
YOUR NEW TEETH
The doctor will discuss how many implants you need and what type of prosthesis is best. If you are missing a single tooth, essentially you get a crown to replace it.
When replacing two or three teeth, you will get a fixed bridge with the teeth you need. However, you may not need an implant per tooth to accomplish this goal.
For a complete dental prosthesis, the surgeon replaces all of your upper or lower teeth. Some choose teeth that are fixed, making it necessary for a dentist to remove them. Other times, a ball-in-socket type attachment allows the wearer to remove them if necessary.
CARING FOR YOUR IMPLANTS
To take care of your implants, you follow the normal brushing and flossing routine that you would with regular teeth. You should also see your dentist for your regular cleanings and check-ups.