Dental Implants

Dental Implants

mackieby Kristina Mackie, DDS
Loretto Family Dentistry, PLLC

Dental implants are a great solution for patients missing one, multiple, or all their natural teeth. They are an important consideration with regards to functional replacement of teeth. Sure, traditional dentures may look aesthetically pleasing however, teeth are more complex than just how they appear. Bite force can greatly diminish when a patient transitions from natural teeth to conventional dentures. Some studies show that after 15+ years of wearing dentures, the bite force in the first molar region can diminish to less than 3% of that seen in the patient’s former dentition. Implant supported dentures, on the other hand, can improve bite force to 85% within 2 months of connecting the new teeth to the implants. I still provide traditional denture services to my patients however, I speak plainly about what they can expect.

When considering a single implant to replace a tooth, there are 3 major parts: the implant BODY, ABUTMENT, and CROWN. The implant body is the part which is surgically placed in the jaw bone. It has thread patterns similar to those seen in a screw. The abutment is the intermediary part which connects the implant body to the crown and emerges from the gums. And of course the crown is the part which rests on the abutment, restoring the visible part of the tooth and providing chewing function and natural aesthetics. The process does require some patience, allowing the body time to heal and grow bone around the implant.

Let’s walk through the single tooth implant process in its most typical form. The failed tooth is extracted and bone grafting material to preserve the socket is typically placed in anticipation of an implant. (On occasion, a tooth may be extracted and the implant placed immediately.) The site is allowed to heal roughly 3-4 months. Once healed, the implant body will be placed. The patient’s bone heals around the implant and locks it into place. Once again, this takes time; approximately 2-3 months. Once the healing is complete, impressions will be taken to fabricate the abutment and the crown. As a general rule, anesthetics are only needed for the surgical steps. Taking impressions and making the abutment and crown elicit little to no discomfort. I often tell my patients it’s similar to taking an earring in and out after the piercing has healed. After the different parts are connected, the patient can immediately begin eating on the implant tooth. Care is the same as for all natural teeth; twice daily brushing and once daily flossing. Although most implants are successful and can last a lifetime, there can be some pitfalls. It’s best to discuss the pros and cons of treatment with your dental professional prior to care.

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