A dental implant is a procedure whereby a metal fixture is placed into the jawbone (this is usually a screw), and this implant acts as a support or anchor for a new false tooth, or set of teeth.
Dental implants are used to replace teeth when they are badly damaged, and have no hope of survival. Over time, the implant or screw, fuses with the jaw bone and remains a strong support for the fake teeth (a process known as osseointegration).
There are many advantages to dental implants, including:
- Improved appearance. Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. And because they are designed to fuse with bone, they become permanent.
- Improved speech. With poor-fitting dentures, the teeth can slip within the mouth causing you to mumble or slur your words. Dental implants allow you to speak without the worry that teeth might slip.
- Improved comfort. Because they become part of you, implants eliminate the discomfort of removable dentures.
- Easier eating. Sliding dentures can make chewing difficult. Dental implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat your favourite foods with confidence and without pain.
- Improved self-esteem. Dental implants can give you back your smile and help you feel better about yourself.
- Improved oral health. Dental implants don’t require reducing other teeth, as a tooth-supported bridge does. Because nearby teeth are not altered to support the implant, more of your own teeth are left intact, improving long-term oral health. Individual implants also allow easier access between teeth, improving oral hygiene.
- Durability. Implants are very durable and will last many years. With good care, many implants last a lifetime.
- Convenience. Removable dentures are just that; removable. Dental implants eliminate the embarrassing inconvenience of removing dentures, as well as the need for messy adhesives to keep them in place.
The Dental Implant Procedure
At the first appointment, we use an X-ray to determine if the jaw bone is adequate to hold the titanium posts. Models of the mouth are often made. These models show where the gaps are located and provide measurements for a replacement tooth or a bridge. Treatment with dental implants is complicated and takes meticulous planning for best results. Today, the implants being placed often only require one surgical procedure using a local anaesthetic and sedative.
Is Old Age a Problem?
Occasionally, older patients express concern that their age may prevent them from enjoying the benefits of dental implants. However, health is more of a determining factor than age. If you’re healthy enough to have a tooth extracted, you’re probably healthy enough to receive dental implants. Certain chronic diseases may contraindicate dental implant treatment. The dentist will determine if you are a candidate for dental implants after a careful evaluation of your dental and health history.
How Will Dental Implants Affect My Life?
Dental implant-supported replacement teeth look, feel and function like natural teeth. This means that you can eat and drink whatever you choose. But most importantly, dental implants improve quality of life in a very concrete way. People who have felt embarrassed and worried because of their tooth problems are often overwhelmed by what new permanent teeth can do for their self-esteem.
The Benefits of Denture Stabilization
Over time, as you wear your denture, you lose the bony structure that supports your soft tissues. Because your soft tissues actually makes contact with your dentures, this too will start to recede with the bone, leaving you in a constant state of adjustment, discomfort and difficulty with everyday functions like speaking, chewing and especially smiling.
Implant Supported Dentures:
- Provide tremendous support and fixation so you can comfortably speak, chew, and smile.
- Keep your upper and lower jaw bone from receding which prevents facial shape changes like the “shrunken” look.
- Perfect option for patients with dentures who do not want to go through the expense required for individual tooth implants.
After having your implants placed, we will adjust your dentures to attach to the implants. Even patients with some bone loss can benefit from Implant Supported Dentures. In one simple procedure all the discomfort of dentures can be eliminated.
There is overwhelming evidence that stabilised dentures should be the first choice standard of care for denture wearers.
Bone Grafting/Sinus Lift
With the ability to grow bone where needed we can place implants of proper length and width, restoring functional and aesthetic appearance.
Bone grafting is often closely associated with dental restorations such as bridge work and dental implants. In the majority of cases, the success of a restoration procedure can hinge on the height, depth, and width of the jawbone at the implant site. When the jawbone associated with missing teeth shrinks, or has sustained significant damage, the implant(s) cannot be supported on this unstable foundation and bone grafting is usually recommended for the ensuing restoration.
Causes for Jaw Bone Volume Shrinkage
- Periodontal Disease – Periodontal disease can affect and permanently damage the jaw bone that supports the teeth. Affected areas progressively worsen until the teeth become unstable.
- Tooth Extraction – Studies have shown that patients who have experienced a tooth extraction subsequently lose 40-60% of the bone surrounding the extraction site during the following three years. Loss of bone results in what is called a “bone defect”.
- Injuries and Infections – Dental injuries and other physical injuries resulting from a blow to the jaw can cause the bone to recede. Infections can also cause the jaw bone to recede in a similar way.
Bone grafting can repair implant sites with inadequate bone structure due to previous extractions, gum disease or injuries. The bone is either obtained from a tissue bank or your own bone is taken from the jaw, hip or tibia (below the knee.) Sinus bone grafts are also performed to replace bone in the posterior upper jaw. In addition, special membranes may be utilized that dissolve under the gum and protect the bone graft and encourage bone regeneration. This is called guided bone regeneration or guided tissue regeneration.
Major bone grafts are typically performed to repair defects of the jaws. These defects may arise as a result of traumatic injuries, tumor surgery, or congenital defects. Large defects are repaired using the patient’s own bone. This bone is harvested from a number of different sites depending on the size of the defect. The skull (cranium), hip (iliac crest), and lateral knee (tibia), are common donor sites.
The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks and on top of the upper teeth. Sinuses are like empty rooms that have nothing in them. Some of the roots of the natural upper teeth extend up into the maxillary sinuses. When these upper teeth are removed, there is often just a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. Dental implants need bone to hold them in place. When the sinus wall is very thin, it is impossible to place dental implants in this bone.
There is a solution and it’s called a sinus graft or sinus lift graft. The dentist enters the sinus from where the upper teeth used to be. The sinus membrane is then lifted upward and donor bone is inserted into the floor of the sinus. Keep in mind that the floor of the sinus is the roof of the upper jaw. After several months of healing, the bone becomes part of the patient’s jaw and dental implants can be inserted and stabilized in this new sinus bone.
The sinus graft makes it possible for many patients to have dental implants when years ago there was no other option other than wearing loose dentures.
If enough bone between the upper jaw ridge and the bottom of the sinus is available to stabilize the implant well, sinus augmentations and implant placement can sometimes be performed as a single procedure. If not enough bone is available, the Sinus Augmentation will have to be performed first, then the graft will have to mature for several months, depending upon the type of graft material used. Once the graft has matured, the implants can be placed.