Dental implants are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything, knowing that their teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved. Patients with dental implants can smile with confidence.
What Are Dental Implants?
When comparing natural teeth to implant-supported replacement teeth, you’ll see that they have the same basic parts. Both have a crown (the visible part) used to chew, and a root that holds the tooth securely under the gum and is anchored into the jaw. The implants themselves are tiny titanium posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors (the implants) act as the tooth root substitutes. As the area heals, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums allowing the bone to bond with the titanium creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, your oral surgeon will uncover the implants and place small support posts (abutments) that protrude through the gums on the implants to provide stable anchors for the artificial replacement teeth (crowns). When the crows are placed, the abutments will not be seen. In many cases, a temporary replacement tooth can be attached to the implant immediately after it is placed.
Dental Implant Surgical Procedure
To place a dental implant, the procedure typically requires 30-60 minutes for a single implant and 2-3 hours for multiple implants. Appointment times vary from patient to patient. In some cases, dental implants may be placed on the same day as tooth extraction. General anesthesia or nitrous oxide (laughing gas) are available for your procedure and a local anesthetic will be used to numb the area where the dental implant will be placed. The use of sedation will be discussed with you during your consultation appointment.
After you are comfortable, your oral surgeon will make a small incision in the gum tissue to reveal the bone, create space using special instruments, and will gently place the titanium implant. Occasionally, impressions will be made at the time the implant is placed in order to have your crown ready for when your implant has healed. For your comfort, the use of digital scanning may be used.
If you have moderate to significant bone loss, you may benefit from having additional bone grafting done to ensure adequate support for your dental implant.
Healing after Dental Implant Surgery
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Drs. Burchfield, Richardson, McLeod, Shea, West, Hamilton, Wicke, Mort and Cone Jr. usually do not require a second procedure to uncover your dental implants. Follow-up visits are needed to ensure that you are healing properly and to determine when you will be ready for the restorative phase of your treatment.
Soft tissue grafting may be necessary to obtain a stronger, more natural appearing gum tissue in the area around the implant. This involves moving a small amount of gum tissue from one part of your mouth to the area around the implant. This is a brief and relatively comfortable procedure.
Dental Implant placement is a team effort between an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. While Drs. Burchfield, Richardson, McLeod, Shea, West, Hamilton, Wicke, Mort and Cone Jr. perform the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary, your dentist fits and makes the permanent prosthesis. Your dentist might also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process.
What Types of Dental Prosthesis Are Available?
A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth – each prosthetic tooth attaches to its own implant. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) can replace two or more teeth and may require only two or three implants.
A complete dental prosthesis (fixed bridge) replaces all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. The number of implants varies depending upon which type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended. A removable prosthesis (over denture) attaches to a bar or cylindrical attachments, whereas a fixed prosthesis is permanent and removable only by the dentist.
Drs. Burchfield, Richardson, McLeod, Shea, West, Hamilton, Wicke, Mort and Cone Jr. perform in-office implant surgery in an operating suite, thus optimizing the level of sterility. Inpatient hospital implant surgery is for patients who have special medical or anesthetic needs or for those who need extensive bone grafting from the jaw, hip or tibia.
Why Dental Implants?
Once you learn about dental implants, you finally realize there is a way to improve your life. When you lose several teeth – whether it’s a new situation or something you have lived with for years – chances are you have never become fully accustomed to losing such a vital part of yourself. Not only does it affect the way you look, but it can also lead to other physical problems that may affect your health and prevent you from smiling with confidence.
Dental implants can be your doorway to renewed self-confidence and peace of mind. They will improve the look of your smile and your ability to chew and function properly. There are many benefits to replacing missing teeth with dental implants, primarily that they:
- Function, feel and look like natural teeth
- Preserve facial structure by preventing bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing
- Maintain the integrity of bone structure after tooth loss
- Preserve the health of adjacent teeth, unlike bridges
- Provide a permanent replacement for dentures that won’t slip or irritate the gums
- Require no special care, no food restrictions, and last a lifetime
Anterior (Front) Implants
When replacing a missing front tooth, it is important that the teeth and gums are in perfect harmony. Careful attention is paid to the shape and appearance of the gum tissue that surrounds the post of the implant. The health of the gum tissue is important to the overall healing process but also has a strong impact on the final appearance of your smile. To allow the implant post and surrounding bone to become fully integrated, you may be fitted with a temporary crown or removable flipper during the healing period (approximately 2-3 months). Once a secure foundation has been established, the custom-designed dental crown will be placed.
Posterior (Rear) Implants
Your back teeth not only incur large amounts of pressure and force during meals, but also serve as the framework that gives your face its natural contours. It is equally important that these teeth look and function like your front teeth. We will select an implant post that is sturdy enough to provide you with long term biting and chewing efficiency. Replacing your back teeth with durable and attractive dental implants can provide you with the comfort and function that you once enjoyed with your natural teeth.
Commonly Asked Questions
Are You A Candidate For Implants?
If you are considering implants, your mouth must be examined thoroughly and your medical and dental history reviewed. If your mouth is not ideal for implants, ways of improving outcome, such as bone grafting, may be recommended.
What Type Of Anesthesia Is Used?
Most of our patients choose IV sedation for their procedure, however, many smaller procedures can be accomplished comfortably with local anesthesia.
Do Implants Need Special Care?
Once the implants are in place, they will serve you well for many years if you take care of them and keep your mouth healthy. This means taking the time for good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) and keeping regular appointments with your dental specialists.
- You may not have anything to eat or drink (including water) for six (6) hours prior to the appointment.
- No smoking at least 12 hours before surgery. Ideally, cut down or stop smoking as soon as possible prior to the day of surgery.
- A responsible adult must accompany the patient to the office, remain in the office during the procedure, and drive the patient home.
- The patient should not drive a vehicle or operate any machinery for 24 hours following the anesthesia experience.
- Please wear loose fitting clothing with sleeves which can be rolled up past the elbow, and low-heeled shoes.
- Contact lenses, jewelry, and dentures must be removed at the time of surgery.
- Do not wear lipstick, excessive makeup, or nail polish on the day of surgery.
- If you have an illness such as a cold, sore throat, stomach or bowel upset, please notify the office.
- If you take routine oral medications, please check with OMSNashville prior to your surgical date for instructions.
- Do not disturb the wound. Avoid rinsing, spitting, or touching the wound on the day of surgery. There will be a metal healing abutment protruding through the gingival (gum) tissue.
- Some bleeding or redness in the saliva is normal for 24 hours. Excessive bleeding (your mouth fills up rapidly with blood) can be controlled by biting on a gauze pad placed directly on the bleeding wound for 30 minutes. If bleeding continues please call for further instructions.
- Swelling is a normal occurrence after surgery. To minimize swelling, apply an ice bag, or a plastic bag, or towel filled with ice on the cheek in the area of surgery. Apply the ice continuously, as much as possible, for the first 36 hours.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid hot liquids or food. Soft food and liquids should be eaten on the day of surgery. Return to a normal diet as soon as possible unless otherwise directed.
You should begin taking pain medication as soon as you feel the local anesthetic wearing off. For moderate pain, 1 or 2 Tylenol or Extra Strength Tylenol may be taken every 3-4 hours. Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) may be taken instead of Tylenol. Ibuprofen, bought over the counter comes in 200 mg tablets: 2-3 tablets may be taken every 3-4 hours as needed for pain. For severe pain, the prescribed medication should be taken as directed. Do not take any of the above medication if you are allergic, or have been instructed by your doctor not to take it.
Antibiotics are prescribed with implant surgery secondary to a slight improvement in implant success rates.
Good oral hygiene is essential to good healing. The night of surgery, use the prescribed Peridex Oral Rinse before bed. The day after surgery, the Peridex should be used twice daily, after breakfast and before bed. Be sure to rinse for at least 30 seconds then spit it out. Warm salt water rinses (teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water) should be used at least 4-5 times a day, as well, especially after meals. Brushing your teeth and the healing abutments is no problem. Be gentle initially with brushing the surgical areas.
Keep physical activities to a minimum immediately following surgery. If you are considering exercise, throbbing or bleeding may occur. If this occurs, you should discontinue exercising. Keep in mind that you are probably not taking normal nourishment. This may weaken you and further limit your ability to exercise.
Wearing your Prosthesis
Partial dentures, flippers, or full dentures should not be used immediately after surgery and for at least 10 days. This was discussed in the pre-operative consultation.