Living with dentures or partials can mean giving up certain foods, little confidence in your smile, and can be very uncomfortable. For most people, dental implants can be used to completely replace your dentures, make them more stable, or allow you to get rid of your partial. Your chewing ability and appearance may be dramatically improved with implants. Many patients have missing teeth without any replacement, leaving various sized gaps in their smile. Leaving gaps in your smile can be dangerous. If a space is left unrestored, many things happen slowly over time without you being aware they are happening. Adjacent teeth will tilt sideways and drift into the space. The bone and gums around the missing teeth will shrink throughout your lifetime making your options for restorations diminish due to lack of bone in those areas. Although you may feel okay without your teeth, with implants you can feel more secure knowing that your bite is supported, your remaining teeth are not overly stressed, and you can avoid future dental problems.
What Is an Implant?
An implant is a man-made Titanium replacement for the roots of your teeth. We can place crowns/caps, bridges, or dentures on top of the implants with a connector called an abutment.
How Many Teeth Can I Replace?
Implants can be used to replace a single tooth, or multiple teeth. They can support crowns/caps or bridges to fill these spaces. A traditional tooth-supported bridge can also be used to replace multiple teeth, but this requires cutting down the teeth. Research has shown the lifespan of a crown/cap or bridge on a tooth to be around 7–10 years before it needs replacement. Looking at the short-term, a tooth bridge can be completed quicker and with less expense, but over your lifetime it can be the most expensive and least conservative option due to the fact that it will not last nearly as long. In the right environment with the proper treatment planning, implant teeth and bridges can last for decades.
Can They Replace All My Teeth?
Implants can be used to support partials or complete dentures. As few as two implants in the lower jaw can make a complete lower denture much more stable and create a much better quality of life by fabricating an implant-assisted denture. Four-to-six implants in the upper jaw can allow an upper implant denture to cover less surface area, allowing you to enjoy the taste, temperature, and feel of your food. As many as 4–6 implants may be used to completely replace your denture with a permanent implant-supported bridge that will simulate real teeth.
Can Implants Go in When My Tooth Comes Out?
Dr. Peterson wants the best possible scenario for you and your new implant in order to heal properly. Implants can be placed on the same day that the tooth is removed if certain criteria are met, but if those criteria are not met it will be placed later after minor healing in that area once the tooth is removed. Implants can also be fitted for temporary teeth immediately after placement. While this is not right for everyone, this may be a good option for you. Dr. Kent Howell, Dr. Jon Peterson, or Dr. Nate Farley can discuss the differences between these options with you.
Similar healing times and procedures are maintained when restoring teeth with an implant bridge as they are with single implant teeth. Implant bridges can be utilized for larger spaces of missing teeth and can look very nice and natural. Prosthodontists can replace an entire mouth of teeth with multiple implant bridges. Heavy planning is needed along with high levels of communication between the prosthodontist and periodontist. Our doctors have the pleasure of working with each other under the same roof!
Single Implant Teeth
Implants have revolutionized dentistry over the last few decades. An implant is a titanium post placed in your jaw bone that is designed to replace the root of the tooth that was once there. A dental implant requires several months for the new bone to form around it and heal. Once the bone has adequately healed around the implant, the crown of the tooth (the portion above the gums) is fabricated and fixed on the implant by either a screw or dental cement. Your new tooth can be brushed, flossed, and used just as your natural tooth was. The implant also stimulates the bone surrounding it, ensuring that your jaw structure is maintained.
The major limiting factor in the use of implants is the amount of bone available. Once a tooth or multiple teeth are lost, the jaw bone shrinks in size and will continue to do so unless something else is placed in that area such as a dental implant. In many cases, bone can be added to the deficient area making the use of implants possible. To prevent bone loss, the dentist may suggest a bone graft to preserve the space left over from a recently extracted tooth. Areas of the back of the mouth can sometimes prove a little more challenging for implant placement if teeth have been missing for an extended period of time. For the upper back teeth, there is a sinus cavity (air cavity) above where the teeth are/were that can prevent the placement of implants. In most cases, bone can be grafted in this sinus area but requires many months of healing before implants can be placed. If the bone shrinkage is only minor in this area, bone grafting can possibly be done at the same time an implant is placed. Surprisingly, most patients experience the same or less discomfort with implant placement as they do with tooth extraction.