The past generation has brought tremendous advances in dental technology and treatment regimens. Among the most revolutionary, however, has been the advent of the successful use of dental implants to restore missing teeth.
Up until about 20 years ago, there were three ways to replace missing teeth:
- Full Dentures
- Partial Dentures
- Fixed (cemented) Bridges
Each of these alternatives, while restoring function, had their limitations and drawbacks.
Dental science, over the past generation, has made tremendous strides in offering an alternative treatment that allowed a patient to discard any type of removable appliance, yet did not necessitate cutting down existing teeth to act as anchors for a fixed bridge. That treatment, which has been so successful and has become so popular, is the dental implant.
The first step in the procedure is an evaluation to determine if there is enough bone present in the jaw to place an implant. Your dentist may send you for a CAT scan of the jaw to determine the placement site for the implant. Once this is done, the body of the implant will be placed in the jaw. This is a relatively painless procedure which is generally done with the use of local anesthesia.
hile it is possible in some cases to “load” the implant immediately with a temporary tooth, generally, the implant will be allowed to integrate into the bone for several months before a replacement tooth can be placed.
After the implant has integrated into the bone and can provide a solid foundation, the dentist will expose the top of the implant, and place an abutment – a post- which will be used to support the replacement tooth. The dentist will then take an impression, send it to a laboratory that specializes in making implant crowns. The lab will return the finished product to the dentist who will then fit and cement the crown which will act as a permanent, long term replacement for the tooth that was missing.