For more than a century, dental bridges and dentures were the best solutions to replace missing or failing teeth. Today, though, dental implants have become the treatment of choice. Dental implants are stable, strong, and can last a lifetime, and they can reverse the jawbone loss that is otherwise inevitable when a tooth is missing. One dental implant can support one crown, while just a few implants can support a complete arch of fixed, top quality replacement teeth. Whichever procedure you have, the basic implant process remains the same.
Examination and Treatment Planning
First, we will closely examine your teeth, bone structure, and soft tissues, using digital scans and x-rays to support our clinical knowledge. We will determine whether dental implants are right for you, and note issues that must be addressed before the implant process begins. We will then develop a treatment plan that aligns with your budget and your goals for treatment.
Tooth Repair and Extraction
We can only place dental implants in a clean, healthy mouth. We will correct any issues such as gum disease or tooth decay, and then extract your failing teeth. We can place a temporary denture if desired so that you never have to be without teeth.
Bone Grafting (if Needed)
Although it is not common, some patients need a simple bone graft to build up the jawbone enough to support dental implants. Bone heals slowly, so it may take several weeks or months before you are ready to proceed with implants.
Placing dental implants is a minor oral surgery. After thoroughly numbing your mouth, we will cut a small flap in your gums and then open a tiny, precise hole in the bone with a series of drills. We will screw the small, biocompatible dental implant into the hole and cover it with a healing cap or a cover screw, and then close your gums. We can place multiple dental implants during the same surgery. You will then wear your temporary denture for several weeks while the implant fuses with your jawbone.
Abutment and Final Restoration
When your dental implant is well-fused with your bone, you will return for another appointment. We will remove the healing cap or cover screw and replace it with an attachment known as an abutment, and then carefully attach your crown, bridge, or other final restoration.
Immediate Load Implants
In some cases you may not need to wait several weeks for your final restoration. A full arch on four implants allows us to use immediate load implants to place a full, fixed set of replacement teeth on your upper or lower arch at the same time the implants are placed.
Also, depending on the location and position of the implant, there are instances where an immediate temporary abutment and crown can be placed at the time of implant placement.