Dental Implants - Common Questions Answered By Implant Dentist
If you have lost a tooth, it is likely that one of your options is to replace it with a dental implant. Before you decide a course of action, you should consider asking your implant dentist some simple questions:
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a titanium metal replacement for a root of a tooth that is surgically implanted in the jawbone by a specially trained implant dentist or oral surgeon. As the body heals for approximately two to six months after the surgery, the bone around the implant fuses to the implant through a process called osseointegration. After the healing phase is complete, the implants are used to anchor crowns, bridges, or dentures. Dental implants are the most natural replacement for a missing tooth.
What does the implant dentist do?
The process should begin with a thorough evaluation of the patient's medical and dental history, and a full clinical examination of the entire mouth and missing tooth area by your dentist. The clinical exam should also include specific X-rays. After assessing the patient, a comprehensive treatment plan can be devised. From that point, implants are surgically placed in the jawbone under local anesthesia. The length of the healing time is based on the quality and quantity of bone, as well as the type of implant placed. After adequate healing is allowed to occur, the implant can be used to support a crown, bridge, or denture.
What happens if the dental implant fails to fuse to the jawbone?
If an implant fails to bond to bone, another implant can immediately be put in its place, usually of a slightly larger diameter. In situations where another implant cannot be immediately placed, the area is allowed to heal for a few months and then another one can be put in the same place.
How many implants should be placed?
This is a question that should be determined during the treatment plan. A good rule-of-thumb is to place one implant for each tooth replaced. Other decisive factors for the number of dental implants needed for success is the quality and quantity of the patient's bone. Equally as important are the existing anatomy of the bone and the financial resources of the patient.
Placing enough implants to restore teeth is vitally important to the long-term success of the restoration. Simply stated, the most costly mistake is to have an implant fail because not enough implants are placed to support the teeth. If the number of implants is limited due to financial constraints of the patient, then the implant treatment should be avoided or the type of restoration must be altered.
When you are more knowledgeable about your implant treatment, you will be able to have more input to give your dentist and better your chances of a successful treatment outcome.
By Benjamin O. Watkins, III, DDS
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