What Are Dental Implants?
Smiling, laughing, sneezing, and eating - these are things that our dental implant patients at Green Tree Dental can do easily and comfortably, without worry that their prosthetic teeth are going to move, or fall out. In fact, because dental implants have become so popular over the past 25 years, few people ever even realize that our patients have false teeth! The whole definition of “false teeth” has been completely renovated by the use of dental implants. As a result of the titanium metal posts that form the basis of implant dentistry, people can lose their natural teeth and replace them with fake teeth that don’t budge, just like the real thing. By fixing dental prosthetics like crowns, bridges, and dentures to implants, patients can go about their lives as they always have, even after they’ve lost all their natural teeth.
Technically speaking, dental implants are metal or ceramic fixtures that are surgically placed in the jawbone to provide support for full or partial dentures, crowns, or bridges. They behave like the roots of teeth by providing a solid anchor that dentists can attach to fake teeth. Implants are a powerful tool for our dentists at Green Tree Dental because the final results are both beautiful and functional. Dental implants allow patients to continue to enjoy the best things in life like broad smiles and decadent foods!
Dental Implant Materials
At Green Tree Dental, we use titanium dental implant posts. We use titanium because it resists corrosion and because it’s biocompatible which means that it’s non-toxic and it won’t be rejected by the body. Once the titanium posts have integrated with the bone tissue of the jaw, titanium is tough enough to support the rigors of biting and chewing for several decades without failure so that patients can still enjoy all the foods they’ve always loved.
The placement of dental implants requires more than one surgical procedure and patients must make an appointment for a consultation with our dentists at Green Tree Dental so that a full treatment plan can be created in advance. The process begins with a dental exam and x-rays that make it possible for our dentists to create a computer-generated model of your teeth and mouth. During the consultation, we’ll discuss your general health condition and the medications you’re taking as well as the number of steps that will be involved in the implantation process.
Once we’ve modeled your mouth using x-rays, our dentists will create a customized treatment plan that considers factors such as how many teeth you’ll need to have replaced and the overall health of your jawbone. During each surgical procedure, the dentist may use local anesthesia and sedation or they may choose to use general anesthesia. The final decision will be based on your health history as well as the overall treatment plan. The dentist will discuss the options with you before the day of surgery.
Dental implants are usually put into place as an outpatient surgery that’s performed in stages. The number of stages varies from patient to patient, depending on the health of their mouth and the strength and volume of their jawbone. During the first stage, the damaged tooth is removed and the jawbone is prepared for the subsequent placement of the implants. Some patients may need to have bone grafting done at this time to add volume to the jawbone. After this initial procedure, patients must wait for their bone tissues to heal.
After the jawbone has healed and adequate bone volume is restored, the titanium implant post is placed in the jawbone. The oral surgeon makes an incision in the gum that exposes the jawbone underneath. Holes are then drilled into the bone where the titanium post will be placed. This procedure requires precision and the oral surgeon will reference the computer-generated model of the patient’s mouth to put the post in just the right spot. After this procedure, there will still be a gap where the tooth is missing. Often, it’s possible for the patient to use a partial, temporary denture while the tissues heal and the bone and the titanium post fuse together (which can take several months).
After the patient’s bone has integrated with the implant post, the dentist can put the prosthetic tooth or teeth in place. Sometimes an additional surgery is required to install an abutment first, but this procedure is typically less involved and requires little recovery time. From start to finish, these various procedures can take up to several months to complete. Much of the time is spent waiting for healing and bone integration to take place. But despite the periods of down-time in between procedures, the placement of dental implants is fairly straightforward. And the results are spectacular!
Crowns and Bridges and Dentures: What’s the Difference?
If you’ve lost teeth and you need to replace them, our dentists at Green Tree Dental will first try to anchor replacement prosthetic teeth to the healthy teeth that are still inside your mouth. But if you’ve lost a lot of teeth or all of your teeth, dental implants can be used as anchors instead. Sometimes dentists will put in an implant in order to anchor a crown if the patient has lost just one tooth. But in all of these cases, dental implants make it possible for dentists to create solid roots for prosthetic teeth to replace the ones that have been lost.
A person who loses one tooth may need a dental implant that can attach to a crown. In a situation like this, the implant works like the root of a tooth to keep the crown in place.
People who are missing two or more teeth may need a bridge. The bridge is a set of false teeth that are held in place by anchoring to either dental implants or to healthy teeth that are on either side of the areas that are missing teeth.
When a person is missing a full arch of teeth (or nearly a full arch of teeth), dentists place implants in the jaw and then create a set of implant-supported dentures that look just like real teeth. The dentures attach to the implants so that when the patient eats or smiles, the dentures don’t move. By anchoring the dentures to the dental implants, the patient can go about their daily life normally.
Appearance and Functionality
Dental implants have the look and feel of natural teeth, but most importantly, they work just like natural teeth. Whereas traditional, removable dentures tend to move inside the mouth and provide very little support for chewing and eating, fixed, implant-supported dentures function almost exactly like natural teeth. By using an implant, our dentists at Green Tree Dental can permanently replace teeth that have been lost and as long as patients take care of the implants by regular brushing and flossing, they can last for a lifetime.
Dental implants have become popular because they make people’s lives better. Studies have shown that dentures that are NOT supported by implants can cause major facial changes and even mood changes in patients over time because people who lose teeth and don’t get implants often smile less. As a result, they feel less happy. Implants make it possible for patients who’ve lost teeth to continue to smile and to enjoy the finer things in life, like good food and laughter with friends and family. In terms of quality of life, dental implants can have a significant, positive impact that patients with tooth loss should consider carefully before deciding whether or not dental implants are right for them.