Crowns and conventional bridges or dentures may not be your only options when replacing missing teeth. For some people, dental implants offer a smile that looks and feels very natural. Surgically placed below the gums over a series of appointments, implants fuse to the jawbone and serve as a base for individual replacement teeth, bridges or a denture.Implants offer stability because they fuse to your bone. Integration of the implants into your jaw also helps your replacement teeth feel more natural and some people also find the secure fit more comfortable than conventional substitutes. Candidates for dental implants need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. A thorough evaluation by your dentist will help determine whether you are a good candidate for dental implants. First, surgery is performed to place the anchor. Surgery can take up to several hours, and up to six months may be required for the bone to grow around the anchor and firmly hold it in place. Some implants require a second surgery in which a post is attached to connect the anchor to the replacement teeth. With other implants, the anchor and post are already attached and are placed at the same time. After the gums have had several weeks to heal, the next step is begun. The artificial teeth are made and fitted to the post portion of the anchor. Because several fittings may be required, this step can take one to two months to complete.Implant surgery can be done either in our office or in the hospital, depending upon a number of factors. A local or general anesthetic may be used. Usually pain medications and, when necessary, antibiotics are prescribed. Your dentist will give you instructions on diet and oral hygiene. Good quality X-rays are necessary for proper treatment. Outdated films are of historic value only. Dr. Kaufman will utilize X-rays provided by your dentist if they are of good quality, current, and show all necessary information. We will take only those films needed to provide quality care. Digital radiographs are utilized with the lowest possible radiation. An iCAT scanner is utilized for special circumstances, such as bone evaluation and implant preparation.
TYPES OF IMPLANTS
There are many implants available, each designed for a specific function. Most are made of titanium, an inert metal which has been proven to be effective at fusing with living bone, a process known as "osseointegration". The cylindrical or screw type implant, called "root form", is similar in shape to the root of a tooth with a surface area designed to promote good attachment to the bone. It is the most widely used design and generally placed where there is plentiful width and depth of jawbone. Where the jawbone is too narrow or short for immediate placement of root form implants, the area may be enhanced with bone grafting to allow for their placement.When the jawbone is too narrow and not a good candidate for bone grafting, a special narrow implant, called "plate form", can be placed into the bone. In cases of advanced bone loss, the "subperiosteal" implant, may be prescribed. It rests on top of the bone but under the gums.The actual implant procedure involves the surgical placement of the implant or implants, a healing period (osseointegration) and implant restoration to replace the missing tooth or teeth. The treatment may be a cooperative effort between a surgical dentist who actually places the implant and a restorative dentist who designs, prescribes and inserts the final replacement teeth. Dr. Kaufman has advanced training and provides both of these services.