What Are Dental Implants?
A natural tooth consists of a root and a crown. If you compare natural teeth to implant-supported replacement teeth, you’ll see they have the same basic parts. Both have a crown (the visible part used to chew food). Both have a root that holds the tooth securely under the gum and is anchored into the jaw. The difference is that the implant is made of titanium – the same time-tested material used by surgeons for artificial joints. When you lose a tooth, you lose both the root and the crown. To replace the tooth, the surgeon first replaces the root with a small dental implant.
Time is allowed for bone to heal and grow around the dental implant. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. A support post (abutment) is then placed on the implant and a new replacement tooth (crown) is placed on top of the abutment. In many cases a temporary replacement tooth can be attached to the implant immediately after it is placed. If all of your teeth are missing, a variety of treatment options are available to support the replacement teeth.
Placement of dental implants is a simple process. Using the most recent advances in implant technology and surgical technique, Dr. Stoker strives to simplify the process as much as possible. Our goal is to complete the most treatment in the fewest number of appointments, ideally with just one procedure. In most situations, the implant can be placed at the same time the tooth is extracted. For your comfort the procedure is performed with both Local and Intravenous Anesthesia.
Dr. Stoker performs in-office implant surgery with a specifically prepared surgical environment and setup, thus optimizing the level of sterility. Inpatient hospital implant surgery is for arranged for patients who have special medical or anesthetic needs or for those who need extensive bone grafting.
Placement of the implant requires creation of a small opening in the bone in which the implant will be placed. Once the implants have been placed there is a period of time allowed for the implant to “fuse” with your jawbone. This usually takes between 3 and 6 months. During this time of healing, temporary teeth can be fabricated and placed in your mouth to maintain your normal appearance. In most circumstances, particularly with front teeth, we are able to place the temporary teeth immediately so you do not have to go without teeth for any period of time. Many times, a tooth can be extracted, implant placed, and temporary tooth delivered in under an hour.
After the implant has integrated with the jawbone, the restorative phase begins. Dental Implant placement is a team effort between an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist or prosthodontist. While Dr. Stoker performs the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary, the restorative dentist or prosthodontist fits and makes the permanent prosthesis.