Dental Implants

What is a dental implant?

Zirconia Implant

An implant is an artificial tooth root, a cylinder of titanium usually less than half an inch long, which is placed in the jaws.  Dental implants were developed in Sweden in the mid 1960’s and are used as supports to permanently attach from one to a full set of replacement teeth.

What is an implant made of?

Implants can be made of pure titanium or a titanium alloy which makes the implant stronger. They can also be made of Zirconia, a ceramic material. Titanium has been used for over 50 years and has an impeccable track record in terms of biologic compatibility. Zirconia implants have been available for nearly 20 years, primarily in Europe. They have been improved over the years and are now FDA approved in the United States. They can be successfully used in most situations where titanium implants are indicated however, they do have their limitations especially when using implants to replace a full arch of teeth. Contact our office if you are interested in learning more about these all ceramic implants.

How much do dental implants cost?

The cost of an “implant” is broken into three parts:  the cost of surgical placement, the cost of the implant parts (abutments) and the crown or denture

The costs can be varied depending on the number of implants (more implants, less fee per implant) and the type of material used in the final restoration (porcelain, plastic or composite).  Generally, more experienced surgeons and prosthodontists (with 3+ years of graduate training) will charge more than someone with limited experience (a weekend course).  There is also a wide range of costs associated with an implant reconstruction. 

What makes a quality dental Implant?

High quality implants cost more than knock off or clone type implants.  Also, the reconstruction can be made cheaply, by sending them products made outside of the United States, or using cheap materials, or they can be made locally by skilled laboratory technicians.  Therefore, as in any medical procedure, the skill of your dental team is a vital part in the success of your final implant restoration.  You are not buying a product, a TV, you are buying a service and the skill and expertise of your dental professionals and the quality of the parts used are important to the long term success of your treatment.

Why would I need dental implants?

 The longer you are missing a tooth or teeth the more the bone and gum ridges shrink.  This is called atrophy.  If the body is not using a part, in this case the bone that holds the teeth, then it takes the calcium and puts it somewhere else where it’s needed.  Implants are placed in the bone and fool the body into thinking there’s a tooth so bone atrophy stops.

How Long do Implants last?

Implants have a mid to high 90’s percentage rate of success after they have integrated.  The majority of implant failures occur in the first three months (before integration) if the bone does not heal properly around the implant.  Generally the failures after 3 months are more of a random event and difficult to predict.  Poor home care, a history of gum disease and uncontrolled diabetes tends to increase the risk of long term failure. The restorative materials, porcelain or acrylic, will fail over time just like a normal crown or denture will fail over time without implants.  The restorative materials should last 10 or more years if properly maintained.

Dental Implants

Advantages Over Dentures or Bridges

Conventional bridges and dentures are not fixed to the bone, and can therefore be unstable. This can make it difficult to eat or smile with confidence. Implants not only look more natural, but feel and act more like normal teeth, with a stronger biting force. And because they don't directly rely on neighboring teeth for support, implants don't compromise the health of your natural teeth. In fact, bridges are only expected to last seven to ten years, even less with root canals, whereas implants will typically last a lifetime.

Dental Implants
Dental Implants

Our implant services include:

  • Sinus Lift Augmentation: Often the sinuses will enlarge following loss of the upper back teeth. This can preclude placement of dental implants in the upper back areas of the mouth, since the sinus is an air-filled space and dental implants need to be surrounded by solid bone. A sinus lift augmentation/graft is a surgical procedure that restores the sinus cavity to its original size, and replaces the bone that has been lost as a result of the enlarged sinus. This new bone graft typically takes nine to 12 months to heal before the dental implants can be placed into the grafted bone.
  • Autogenous Bone Grafting: Occasionally, the ideal areas for dental implants do not have sufficient bone quantity to support the implants. In these cases, it is often necessary to “borrow” bone from another area of your mouth and graft it into the deficient area. Often, the area of choice is from the chin or in the back of the jaw where your wisdom teeth used to be.
  • Implant Site Development: When a tooth needs to be removed due to infection, it is not uncommon to have lost bone around the infected tooth. In these cases, various types of bone grafting can be done at the same time the tooth is removed to facilitate the placement of a dental implant at a later date.
  • Computer-Enhanced Treatment Planning: We have special software on our computer that allows us to evaluate your dental CT scan in three dimensions for bone quality, bone quantity, and bone location, enabling the best possible placement of your dental implants. This also allows us to work closely and smoothly with your restorative dentist to ensure an ideal result where your dental implants are concerned.
  • Implant Maintenance: Once your dental implant restoration is completed, it is important to keep the area clean and infection-free. Dental implants can accumulate plaque and tartar just as teeth can. Whether you have just one tooth replaced by an implant or several, a professional cleaning schedule will be necessary to keep your implants healthy. The time interval for these professional cleanings will be determined by your individual needs.

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