Crowns and conventional bridges or dentures may not be your only options when replacing missing teeth. For some people, dental implants offer a smile that looks and feels very natural. Surgically placed titanium implants fuse to the jawbone and serve as a base for individual replacement teeth, bridges or a denture.
Implants offer great stability because they fuse to your bone. Integration of the implants into your jaw also helps your replacement teeth feel more natural and some people also find the secure fit more comfortable than conventional substitutes.
Candidates for dental implants need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. A thorough evaluation by Dr. Baldwin will help determine whether you are a good candidate for dental implants. This evaluation involves a 3D scan of the area where an implant is proposed. We will evaluate the bone height and width as well as digitally plan placement of the implant. Quality esthetic results helps us plan placement of the implant and manage the surrounding bone and gum tissues to provide you with the best results.
What is involved in placing implants?
If the tooth is still in place it must first be removed. In certain situations and for some teeth we can take the tooth out and place the implant the same day. This depends on how well the natural tooth comes out and the health of the bone following extraction. If the site and surrounding bone are not good candidates for placing the implant the same day as an extraction we normally will recommend a bone graft for this site. The bone graft assures that the bone height and width will maintain it’s dimensions in preparation for the implant. As advanced as implants are, if we don’t have sufficient bone, the implant is at risk of failure. This is why we recommend the graft.
Surgery to place the implant or “post” involves us getting you numb just as we would with a filling or crown. Surgery can 1-2 hours depending on how complex the case is. If you prefer to be sedated during the procedure we do offer sedation for these procedures. As we are placing the implant we will verify that the positioning and placement is ideal for long term strength and ideal esthetics when we restore the implant. Healing times vary from 4-6 months allowing the required time for bone to grow around the implant and securely hold it in place. Depending on your situation the implant may be completely covered following surgery or we may leave a small silver button showing. If it is completely covered it will a second procedure to uncover the implant.
Depending on whether your implants are for a crown/bridge or a denture will determine what comes next:
Crown and Bridge
After the bone and gums have had time to heal we will take an impression which records the exact position of the implant(s) and the neighboring teeth. This is sent to the lab and a crown/bridge is fabricated to fit the space and attach to the implant(s). Most implant crowns/bridges take about 3 weeks to get back from the lab.
Implant Retained/Supported Dentures (removable)
Most dentures can be fabricated before uncovering the implants. Once the implants have healed we will uncover them and allow the gums to heal for 2 weeks. Following healing of the gums we will take measurements and order the necessary attachments. The implant system we use has buttons that will be fit into your denture and then snap onto the implant attachments. The more implants used to retain a denture provide greater stability and retention. The greater retention from implants allows us at times to remove some of the palate from a top denture which in turn allows the patient to have improved taste and temperature sensation while eating. The bottom denture will require less length on the sides of the denture increasing overall comfort. The buttons placed into the denture have different levels of retention and will need to be changed out when they get worn down. You will notice they are getting worn down when the denture becomes loose. The variations for how to plan an implant retained/supported denture and endless. If you would like to discuss your options please come in and see what we can do for you!
Hybrid Dentures (fixed, not removable)
Hybrid dentures are a bit more involved than implant retained/supported dentures. Following the needed healing period for the implants we will uncover them all and take an impression of the entire arch and implants. This will be sent to the lab and a design guide that screws into the implants will be sent back. The design process can take 2-3 appointments to verify placement of teeth and how they come together with the opposite arch. At time we will do a temporary prosthesis that screws into the implants before fabricating the final prosthetic appliance. Materials for the final prosthesis vary from a titanium bar covered in denture acrylic to titanium bars with porcelain teeth on top. Just as the implant retained/supported denture have endless variations so do hybrid dentures. For more details please come by and talk to Dr. Baldwin and see what we can do for you!