Dental implants have been around for many years. In the past 15-20 years there have been great technological advances to both the design and materials used in dental implants. They are the closest option to a natural tooth that modern dentistry offers. Dental implants, however, are not a “quick fix” in most circumstances. They won’t get cavities because they are exclusively made of metal and ceramic. Implants still must be cleaned thoroughly because plaque can still attach to them and cause bone loss. There are generally 3 parts that constitute an implant:
- Implant body – This is the titanium anchor that is placed into the bone and acts like the root of a tooth.
- Abutment – This is an adaptor that connects the implant body to the prosthesis. We use custom abutments to keep your gums healthy above the implant.
- Prosthesis – This is the crown, bridge or denture to which that the implant will connect. This is the part of the implant you will use to chew.
When determining if a patient is a candidate for dental implants, there are different factors that come into play:
First, your medical history will need to be reviewed to check for any possible medical complications. Success rates for dental implants are in the 90% range for patients that don’t have any complicating factors, which are really good odds. Complicating factors include, but are not limited to: uncontrolled diabetes, tobacco use, history of severe periodontitis, history of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and history of or current use of osteoporosis medications.
Second, the amount of bone at the implant site. In today’s world a 3D x-ray (called a CBCT) is taken to determine exactly where the implant should be placed and how much bone is present. There are certain limiting factors that can complicate the placement of dental implants because there isn’t enough bone present. All cases are different so they will be discussed on an individual basis.
All of these considerations will be reviewed by Dr. Frost in conjunction with a highly trained surgeon before the process of placing a dental implant will begin.
Implants are placed by creating a small space in the bone to accept the implant. Once the implant has been inserted, you will have stitches placed over that site and wait for 3 months for the bone to heal and “integrate” the implant. Bone doesn’t heal quickly so we allow adequate time.
Once the implant has integrated into the bone, we are ready to take an impression. Special posts are connected to the implant so we know exactly how the implant sits under your gums and how we need to build the prosthesis. The impressions are sent to the lab with a detailed description by Dr. Frost on how the prosthesis is to be made. Finally, all 3 parts of the implant will come together to give you the “tooth” for which you have waited months.