What Are Dental Implants

Dental Implants and Bone Grafting

A dental implant is a man-made replacement for a tooth root, which can be used in patients to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth, or an entire upper and/or lower jaw of teeth. Implants are typically made of titanium and are similar in shape and size to a natural tooth root. Titanium offers strength and durability and can actually fuse to bone over time in a process called “osseointegration”. Bone cells literally attach themselves to the implant.

Dental implants are inserted in the jaw during the surgical phase of the dental implant treatment. Current technology allows for precise positioning and safety during the placement of implants, and is guided with the help of computer-assisted dental planning software and surgical guides.

Due to implants being placed in the upper or lower jaw, it’s crucial to determine the exact dimensions of a patient’s existing bone and identify important features such as nerves and sinuses before placing the  implants. Therefore, prior to the procedure, you’ll undergo CT scan to capture a 3-D image of the teeth and jaw, so doctors can assess the width and depth of existing bone.

If there is not enough bone available, it may be necessary to add bone grafting material, which typically consists of “mineralized, freeze dried bone” that will heal and transform into newly grown bone. This occasionally happens in the sinus area requires adding bone below the sinus so there is enough bone for the implant to be placed (called “sinus augmentation”).

Recovery Time

Typical healing times range from three weeks to several months, depending on the condition of the bone in the jaw. If bone grafting is required, healing time can be longer. After the healing period, an impression will be taken and the final crown(s) or bridge will be fabricated. The dentist attaches an abutment to the implant and cements the final crown or bridge to the abutment.

Success Rates

Overall, dental implants have better than a 95% success rate, which is typically defined as a healthy, functioning implant for at least a 10-year period. Implants should maintain their health and function for many more years beyond that.

To learn more about dental implants and if they’re an ideal solution for your dental needs, contact us today.