What are dental implants?
Dental implants are natural-looking replacements for missing teeth. They provide the same function as the natural tooth roots.
Dental implant is a more natural approach to replace missing tooth. A dental implant is a small, sturdy, titanium post that acts as the root structure would for a natural tooth. A dental implant is placed into the upper or lower jaw bone in the position of missing tooth. After the bone has grown around the implant, which typically would require 3-5 months of duration, implants can hold a crown, bridge or over-denture just like roots hold natural teeth in place.
Implants are very durable and can last a lifetime. They require the same maintenance as natural teeth which include brushing, flossing and regular dental check-ups.A single tooth or a full arch of teeth which have been lost due to injury or disease can be replaced with dental implants.
Titanium metal is used because of its compatibility with bone and oral tissues.
What are the benefits of dental implants?
Implant is the right solution to replace missing tooth or teeth
- Implant supported teeth look natural as they emerge through the gums.
- They function similar to natural teeth as they are supported by the gums & bone. They prevent bone loss that is bound to occur after tooth loss. Thus they maintain facial contour & thereby the youthfulness.
- Patients with implants will be able to chew even the hard food with ease unlike patients with dentures. Thus poor nutritional habits seen in people with missing teeth can be avoided. Good nutrition thus keeps people healthy.
- Implant supported teeth look very natural, stable & comfortable. This helps people to socialize without suffering from the emotional disturbances due to the missing teeth.
- Implants are made of materials that are well accepted by the body. They have good strength and take up the loads of food chewing.
- Implants are long lasting when maintained well.
- They prevent drilling of adjacent teeth as in bridges. Thus they help to preserve the structure & health of natural teeth.
When are the implants indicated?
What are the consequences of loss of single tooth?
Loss of a tooth can begin a chain of events that affect the integrity and health of rest of the dentition.
The unprotected jaw ridge can get subjected to injury due to chewing forces.
The neighboring teeth tilt into the empty space. This destroys proper functional balance.
The drifted teeth create areas of food impaction. This can lead to consequences like decay in the drifted & adjacent teeth.
Gum diseases can begin in these faulty contact areas.
Because of abnormal teeth drifting process, the supporting bone gets affected & shrinks. This makes teeth replacement in future difficult.
The remaining teeth are loaded with excessive chewing forces and are acting in direction that can be detrimental to the stability of rest of the teeth.
The teeth opposite to the space of missing teeth might supra erupt. That is, they might move towards the opposing empty space. In the long run this loosens the opposing teeth.
What are the effects of teeth loss?
- The unprotected jaw ridge can get subjected to injury due to chewing forces.
- The neighboring teeth tilt into the empty space. This destroys proper functional balance.
- The drifted teeth create areas of food impaction. This can lead to consequences like decay in the drifted & adjacent teeth.
- Gum diseases can begin in these faulty contact areas.
- Because of abnormal teeth drifting process, the supporting bone gets affected & shrinks. This makes teeth replacement in future difficult.
- The remaining teeth are loaded with excessive chewing forces and are acting in direction that can be detrimental to the stability of rest of the teeth.
- The teeth opposite to the space of missing teeth might supra erupt. That is, they might move towards the opposing empty space. In the long run this loosens the opposing teeth.
What are the required diagnostic x-rays?
The diagnostic x-rays required to plan implant placement are;
Intra oral x rays to study the quantity of alveolar bone in the edentulous space, proximity & structure of adjacent teeth.
OPGs to study the shape of jaws, space available for implant placement, proximity to the adjacent vital structures like sinus or neuro-vascular bundle.
CT scans are very useful tools to have accurate information about the thickness, height of bone available and other vital information.
What is the procedure of Implant placement?
Dental implants are usually completed in two phases.
Phase one: The phase of implant placement
Rest period: Period of Osseointegration
Phase two: Attaching replacement teeth over the fixed implant.
Using precise, gentle surgical techniques, the implants are placed into the jawbone under local anaesthesia
Rest Period or Phase of Osseointegration
A period of 3-4 months is allowed before attaching the replacement teeth for bone to grow and bond with the implant. This ensures a strong, solid foundation for replacement teeth. During this time, temporary bridges or dentures may be used to minimize any cosmetic or chewing inconvenience.
This phase involves creating and attaching the new tooth or teeth to the anchored dental implant/s in the jaw. And is called loading the implant.
How is an implant helpful to replace single missing tooth?
An Implant is the best solution to replace single missing tooth.
Based on radiographic study and intra-oral study of the tissues, the space (length and breadth) available for implant placement are determined. Based on this information, the implant of required dimension and type is chosen.
The implant is placed in the jaw at the predetermined position maintaining the right angulation under local anesthesia.
Delayed loading: The implant is allowed to bond with the bone which would take 3-6 months. Then abutment is fixed to this implant and crown of suitable shade is given. This completes the procedure of tooth replacement with implant
During this interim period of implant healing removable denture or temporary crown is given to allow the individual to continue with his social interactions.
Immediate loading: in case of favorable bone density implant can be loaded immediately with abutment, temporary crown and in few days with a permanent crown.
Since the abutment emerges through the gums it looks natural and also offers the comfort of a natural tooth.
What are replacement teeth?
Replacement teeth are artificial teeth that are prepared in the lab & are used to replace missing teeth with the help of implants or taking support from adjacent natural teeth as in bridges.
What is an implant supported bridge?
Procedure of Implant Supported Bridge Placement
After thorough examination of the surrounding structures and the amount of bone available in the jaw bone clinically and with radiographs and other imaging techniques, treatment plan is established.
Implant placement and teeth replacement can be done in two stages or in single stage wherein teeth are replaced on the same day.
Two stage procedure
According to the treatment plan, required numbers of implants are placed in pre-determined places in the jaw bone under local anesthesia.
The implants are covered with cover screws and are allowed to fuse with the surrounding bone. This period can vary between 3-6 months based on the individual's health.
In the second stage, implants are exposed, abutments are fixed and impression is made. Later the bridge is prepared in the lab and is fixed over the abutments covering the implants. Thus the missing teeth are replaced.
Single stage procedure
When the quality and quantity of available in the jawbone is adequate, implants are placed according to the treatment plan and abutments are fixed over them.
Then a temporary bridge or a permanent prosthesis that was pre-fabricated is fixed over these implants. This is called immediate loading and patient can walk out of the clinic with teeth on the same day.
Can all missing teeth be replaced with implants?
Implants can be a ray of hope for patients who would have lost all their teeth but want to get back the comfort and look of firm teeth.
After detailed analysis of the jaw bone with radiographs (X-ray images) scans and analysis of the jaw relations, number and position of implants are decided. Treatment plan is established.
In each arch at least 4- 6 implants are needed to replace all missing teeth.
After implant placement and healing period which might vary between 3-6 months, abutments are fixed and final bridge is custom prepared. This bridge is fixed into patient's mouth thus restoring smile and happiness for the patient along with the comfort and durability of fixed teeth. Implants also prevent bone loss thereby retaining youthful appearance to the patient.
What is an implant supported overdenture?
Dentures get loosened over a period of time as the jaw bone shrinks continuously after loss of teeth.
Implants placed at ideal positions can offer support to the dentures making them stable thereby reducing the discomfort of moving dentures.
About 2-4 implants are needed in each arch to support the dentures. Abutments are fixed over the implants. Base of the dentures are modified to be fitted over these abutments thereby holding the implant firmly over the jaw
Implant supported dentures can offer high comfort for patients who have suffered with loose fitting dentures.
Can implants be completed in the same visit?-Teeth on same day
Dental implants are also completed in single visits. This is called immediate loading and patient can walk out of the dental clinic with implant fixed and replacement teeth attached to the implant in a single visit. This is a single phase procedure.