Implants for Replacement of Missing Teeth
Statistics show that 69% of adults ages 35 to 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth to an accident, gum disease, a failed root canal or tooth decay. Furthermore, by age 74, 26% of adults have lost all of their permanent teeth. (www.aaoms.org)
Twenty years ago, these patients would have had no alternative but to employ a fixed bridge or “flipper”/removable denture to restore their ability to eat, speak clearly and smile. Fixed bridges often affect adjacent healthy teeth, which need to be cut down to accommodate the bridge.
Missing teeth for long periods of time result in loss of bone in the jaw. Full or partial dentures sit on the gums, causing pressure on the underlying bone, which may accelerate bone loss:
Today there is another option for patients who are missing permanent teeth. Rather than resting on the gum line like removable dentures, or using adjacent teeth as anchors like fixed bridges, dental implants are long-term replacements that Dr. Moy and Dr. Kahenasa can surgically place in the jawbone. Composed of titanium metal that integrates with the jawbone, through a process called “osseointegration,” dental implants never slip or make embarrassing noises that advertise the fact that you have “false teeth”. They also will not decay like teeth anchoring fixed bridges. If properly cared for, dental implants can last a lifetime and typically have a 95% success rate at the time of placement.
Anatomy of a Dental Implant
A dental implant designed to replace a single tooth is composed of three parts: the titanium implant that fuses with the jawbone; the abutment, which fits over the portion of the implant that protrudes from the gum line; and the crown, which is created by a prosthodontist or dentist and fitted onto the abutment for a natural appearance.
Dental Implants are a Team Effort
A successful implant requires that you (the patient), your dentist (who makes the crown or denture) and Dr. Moy and Dr. Kahenasa (who does the surgery for implant preparation and placement) are working closely together and responsible for the ultimate success of the implant. Dr. Moy and Dr. Kahenasa will work closely with your dentist and follow a careful treatment plan based on your needs. You, as the dental implant patient, are a very important part of this team since it will be your responsibility to maintain the implant once it is placed. In some cases, the dental implant can even be placed at the same time as the tooth extraction (“immediate” placement). We will discuss all of your surgical and anesthetic options following a consultation that includes a comprehensive examination, x-rays or CT scan, and, treatment planning discussions with your dentist.
The Surgical Procedure
Depending on the location and anatomy of the area needing an implant, the surgeon will possibly need to perform bone or tissue grafting. If your jaw bone and gum tissue does not need grafting, implants are placed within your jawbone.
This surgery can be completed with local anesthesia and nitrous oxide or IV sedation/General Anesthesia. For the first two to six months following surgery, the implants are usually beneath the surface of the gums gradually fusing with the jawbone. You should be able to wear temporary dentures and will need to eat a soft diet during this time.
After the implant has bonded or fused to the jawbone, the second phase begins. In some cases, Dr. Moy and Dr. Kahenasa will need to uncover the implants and attach small posts, which will act to mold the gum tissue, or act as anchors for the artificial teeth. These posts protrude through the gums. When your dentist places your final crown, bridge or denture over these posts, these posts will likely not be seen. The entire procedure usually takes six to eight months. Please feel free to contact West Coast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center by viewing the “consultations” link with any questions or to schedule a consultation.