Patients who lose one or more teeth to periodontal disease or another condition can visit Bull City Smiles Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, Debora Bolton DDS for dental implant restorations that help to restore your lifestyle. Implants give our dentist a foundation to place a replacement in your mouth that looks, feels, and functions just like a natural tooth .

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants replace the tooth root missing from the jaw bone with a titanium post. The bone tissue will eventually bond to this post, creating a secure foundation. Another post (called an abutment post) will be anchored to the implant post, and it sits above the gum line. It is over this post that the restorations are placed. When you have dental implants in your jaw, then they prevent bone deterioration there, helping to preserve facial structure.

Dental Implants vs. Bridges And Dentures

There are several benefits to having dental implants in comparison to other restorations like bridges and dentures. For one, implants do not affect the neighboring teeth, unlike bridges which need these teeth filed down in order to anchor the bridge over them. There will also be no metal clasps around your remaining teeth or plastic covering over the roof of your mouth as is the case with removable partial dentures. Implants also stay securely in place, unlike dentures which can slip around the mouth.

Avoiding Bone Loss

Your teeth actually support the integrity of your jaw bone structure by stimulating this tissue every time you bite down. But if you lose teeth, then your jaw bone does not receive this stimulation and it eventually shrinks away. Dental implants prevent this shrinkage by restoring the tooth root missing from the jaw, protecting the structure there that supports the teeth remaining in your mouth.

Long-Term Solution

One of the long-term benefits of receiving a dental implant is that it is much easier to clean than a dental bridge. Because bridges are so difficult to clean, the teeth supporting them are more likely to develop cavities and cause bridge failure. However, because implants cannot get cavities, they can last a lifetime.

Single Tooth

If you have lost a tooth, then you can permanently restore it with a dental implant topped by a crown. This procedure will be completed through multiple appointments, which may go as follows:

  1. You will visit an oral surgeon for a consultation and treatment plan. During this appointment, the surgical team may examine your mouth, take X-rays of your teeth, ask questions about your medical and dental history, and discuss your best treatment options.
  2. The surgeon will place the implant post in your jaw bone. Implant placement isn’t too invasive of a procedure, and most people are able to return to work the next day. Temporary restorations may be used afterwards.
  3. After several months of letting the bone fuse to the implant, the abutment post is then attached to the implant post (unless it already came built in).
  4. The dental crown is placed over the abutment post.

Multiple Teeth

If you are missing several of your teeth, then we can replace them with an implant-supported fixed bridge. This procedure will be completed through multiple appointments, which may go as follows:

  1. You will visit an oral surgeon for a consultation and treatment plan. During this appointment, the surgical team may examine your mouth, take X-rays of your teeth, ask questions about your medical and dental history, and discuss your best treatment options.
  2. The surgeon will place the implant posts in your jaw bone. Implant placement isn’t too invasive of a procedure, and most people are able to return to work the next day. Temporary restorations may be used afterwards.
  3. After several months of letting the bone fuse to the implants, the abutment posts are then attached to the implant posts (unless they already came built in).
  4. The fixed dental bridges or dental crowns are placed over the abutment posts.

All Teeth (Full Arch)

Just a few dental implants can be used to replace an entire arch of missing teeth with an implant-supported denture. This procedure will be completed through multiple appointments, which may go as follows:

  1. You will visit an oral surgeon for a consultation and treatment plan. During this appointment, the surgical team may examine your mouth, take X-rays of your teeth, ask questions about your medical and dental history, and discuss your best treatment options.
  2. The surgeon will place the implant posts in your jaw bone. Implant placement isn’t too invasive of a procedure, and most people are able to return to work the next day. Temporary restorations may be used afterwards.
  3. After several months of letting the bone fuse to the implants, the abutment posts are then attached to the implant posts (unless they already came built in).
  4. The implant-supported dentures are placed over the abutment posts.

Alternative Techniques

Surgeons and dentists offer other methods for implant placement which are faster and less invasive than a traditional implant procedure. Some of the alternative methods that you may benefit from include:

  • Immediate Load Dental Implants (Same Day Implants or Teeth in a Day®): With these implants, you can have the post placed in your jaw bone and a temporary restoration bonded on top during a single appointment. After the bone fuses to the implant post for 3-6 months, we will replace the temporary restoration with a permanent crown. This implant type works well for patients who have enough jaw bone structure to support the implant with security while the temporary restoration is under pressure.
  • Mini Dental Implants (MDI): These types of implants are also known as small diameter or narrow diameter implants (SDI or NDI). Like their names suggest, they measure less than 3 millimeters in diameter while traditional implants are about 3.25-5 millimeters in diameter. Placement of the MDIs is less invasive than traditional implant placement. They also work well at securing dentures and are a great alternative for patients who have a low jaw bone density.
  • All-On-4: This system can replace a full arch of missing teeth with just 4 dental implants. This system works by placing the implants in the available jaw bone tissue so no bone grafting procedure will be necessary. While gum tissue heals and bone tissue fuses, you will be given temporary abutments and replacement teeth. You will also eat a modified diet during this time period. After about six months, the temporary restorations are placed and you can resume your normal eating habits.

Bone Augmentation

Some patients cannot support dental implants in their mouth because they have a low jaw bone density. This deficiency can be caused by several problems, including:

  • Gum (periodontal) disease
  • Tooth development defects
  • Wearing dentures
  • Injury
  • Tooth extractions

If you have insufficient bone structure due to the above problems, then you may not be a good candidate for dental implants. However, there are procedures which can replace lost bone structure, renewing jaw health and allowing you to receive implants. Some of these procedures include:

  • Bone Grafts: This procedure is safe and effective as it restores lost bone structure by adding a graft taken from your own bone tissue, that of a donor, or from a synthetic source. The graft will take several months to fuse to your natural bone structure. Afterwards, your jaw will be ready for implant placement.
  • Sinus Lift (Sinus Augmentation or Sinus Elevation): This procedure is a bone graft performed in the upper back part of the jaw bone. When teeth are missing from this area, the sinus cavity above it becomes larger as bone tissue deteriorates. Through this procedure, the sinus membrane is lifted to make space for the bone grafts. After several months, implants can be placed in this area.
  • Ridge Expansion (Ridge Modification): If your jaw bone isn’t wide enough for implants, then grafts may be added to the ridge, which is the space along the top of the jaw bone. Implants can be placed after the graft fuses to the jaw bone, though in some cases, implants can be placed immediately after this procedure.