Implant in the
Crown placed on the implant
For individuals who wish to replace missing teeth,
dental implants may be an effective long-term solution. Implants provide greater
structural support and last longer than either bridges or dentures. Implants
serve as the artificial root to which new teeth are bonded. They are typically
constructed of titanium, a strong and safe material that effectively attaches to
bone. The procedure to insert dental implants typically involve three steps: the
implant insertion stage, osseointegration (the period of healing for the
jawbone), and the attachment of the restoration or new tooth.
Types of Implants
The most popular form of implant is the root implant. This type of implant is
very effective and mirrors the size and shape of a patient's natural tooth. Many
times, this implant will be as strong structurally as the original tooth's root.
Once the dentist applies the local anesthesia, he or she makes an incision in
the gum in order to gain access to the jawbone. The bone is then prepared and
the implant inserted into the jawbone with care and precision. Finally, the
dentist stitches the gums and, if necessary, prescribes an appropriate
medication. During the osseointegration step, which lasts anywhere from three to
eight months, the jawbone firmly attaches itself to the implant. Once
osseointegration is complete, the patient returns to the dental office where the
implant is fitted with the new tooth.
Another form of implant is the plate form implant.
This implant is ideal in situations where the jaw bone is not wide enough to
properly support a root implant. The plate form implant is long and thin, unlike
the root implant, and anchors into thin jawbones. The insertion process is the
same as for a root implant, but in certain cases, plate implants are immediately
fitted with the restoration without waiting for the osseointegration period.
The last type of implant is the subperiosteal implant.
These implants are utilized when the jawbone has receded to the point where it
no longer supports a permanent implant. These implants are placed on top of the
bone and embedded in the gums, but not in the jawbone as with the other types of
implants. The dentist applies a local anesthesia, and makes a mold of the mouth
and jawbone. From this impression, a dental lab constructs implants to custom
fit the patient's jaw. On the second visit to the dentist, the dentist exposes
the jawbone and inserts the implant on top of it. Over the next month the gums
grow up and around the implant. This same type of implant can sometimes be
performed in a single procedure with the use of an initial CAT scan of the gum line
As with any cosmetic surgery, complications are rare but can include infection,
slight damage to nerves, and mild discomfort. Although very unlikely, infection
of the gums or jawbone is a possibility and is treated through antibiotics or
another medication. Surgery to the upper or lower jawbone can result in mild
nerve damage. Nerve damage typically subsides in several weeks, but can persist
for longer periods of time. As the jawbone heals, patients may experience some
discomfort, which can be tempered through medication. Discomfort should subside
within seven to ten days.
Although patients should always practice proper dental hygiene, this is
especially true once a dental implant has been put into place. When teeth and
gums are not properly cleaned, bacteria can attack sensitive areas, causing the
gums to swell and the jawbone to gradually recede. Enough recession of the
jawbone can weaken dental implants and eventually necessitate their removal.
Patients should visit their dentists' offices at least twice a year in order to
ensure the health of their teeth and implants. Following an implant operation,
smoking should be avoided, as it impairs the ability of the gum and jawbone to
heal. Given the proper care, dental implants should last 25 years or longer.