Dental implants are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth which look, feel and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved they can smile with confidence. If you are considering dental implants in Westfield, Longmeadow, or Hadley MA, please call our office to schedule a consultation so that we can better answer your questions.
What are Dental Implants?
The implants themselves are small titanium posts, which are inserted into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These anchors act as tooth root substitutes. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Small extensions are then attached to the implant, which are called “abutments”. These abutments protrude through the gums and provide stable anchors for the replacement teeth.
In addition to replacing missing teeth, dental implants have another vital role, often overlooked. By preventing the bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing dental implants also help preserve facial structure, making people look younger, longer.
The doctors at Berkshire Facial Surgery perform implant surgery in a hospital-style operating suitein their offices, thus optimizing the level of sterility. For patients who have special medical or anesthetic needs or for those who need extensive bone grafting, inpatient hospital implant surgery is possible.
The Surgical Procedure
For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves just one surgical procedures. After the implants are placed, they are left to heal for the first two to three months, with no forces applied to them. In some very select cases, teeth can be placed on the implants at the same visit, but it will be up to your doctor to decide if this is possible (see below, Surgical Advances)You should be able to wear a temporary prosthesis and you will never be sent home without some form of prosthesis. During the early healing phase, you are expected to exercise care in the surgical area by maintaining excellent oral hygiene and eating a soft diet. You will usually be seen 2-3 times in our office after your implants are placed so that we can examine the area and monitor your healing.
After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. Your dentist will attach the abutment(s) to the implant and take an impression of the implant. A dental laboratory will then make the new prosthesis which will fit on the implant. On average, the entire procedure usually takes three to six months however, times may vary depending on individual situations. Regardless, during treatment, most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.
Until recently, most implant procedures were done as “staged” operations. That is, if a tooth was removed, the area was allowed to heal completely before implants would be placed; this would some times take six to nine months. Now, much of the implant community is focused on the concept of “immediate implants.” These are implants that are placed the same day as teeth are removed. While not possible in every case, the doctors at Berkshire Facial Surgery have distinguished themselves with this procedure and can give you a realistic opinion of your chances for success.
Similar to immediate implants is the concept of immediate temporary placement. For many patients, losing a front tooth can be very traumatic and the prospect of wearing a temporary bridge or removable partial denture is very unappealing. For these patients, placing a temporary crown on the same day is a very viable option. Patients must exercise great caution in the early healing in these cases being certain to eat only the softest foods and maintaining impeccable oral hygiene. Like immediate implants, this cannot be done in all cases, however, Drs. Bontempi and Paolella can discuss this with you in more detail.
Dental Implants Presentation
To provide you with a better understanding of dental implants, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to dental implants are discussed.
Who actually performs the implant placement?
Implants are a team effort between an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and a Restorative Dentist. While the oral surgeon performs the actual implant surgery, and initial tooth extractions and bone grafting if necessary, the restorative dentist (your dentist) fits and makes the permanent prosthesis. Your dentist will also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process.
What types of prostheses are available?
One of the greatest advantages of dental implants is their versatility in dental rehabilitation. A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth – each prosthetic tooth attaches to its own implant. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) can replace two or more teeth and may require only two or three implants. A complete dental prosthesis (fixed bridge) replaces all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. The number of implants varies depending upon which type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended. A removable prosthesis (over denture) attaches to a bar or ball in socket attachments, whereas a fixed one is permanent and removable only by the dentist.
Why Dental Implants?
Once you learn about dental implants, you will realize that it represents one of the most innovative yet conservative treatments available in dentistry. While crowns and bridges replace missing teeth, they do nothing to address the missing roots in the bone. Over time, if teeth are removed, the bone in that area begins to melt away leaving a void in the jaw bone where the roots once were. With this bone loss, replacement teeth begin to look more “fake” and become more difficult to clean.
Because dental implants replace both the teeth and roots, they represent a much more anatomically sound replacement for missing teeth. This in turn preserves facial contour and keeps patients looking young. In fact, because of these advantages, many people find that dental implants are a doorway to renewed self-confidence and peace of mind.
Are you a candidate for implants?
Most patients are candidates for dental implants, however cases may vary depending on their complexity. If you are considering implants, your mouth must be examined thoroughly and your medical and dental history reviewed. If you are not an ideal candidate for dental implants, this does not mean that you cannot have them. Rather, it means that more work will need to be done in order to place them such as bone or soft tissue grafting.
What type of anesthesia is used?
The majority of dental implant and bone graft procedures can be performed in the office under local anesthesia, with or without general anesthesia. However, anesthetic options are presented to you prior to the surgery with some guidance depending on the length and complexity of the surgery.
Do Implants need special care?
Once the implants are in place, they will serve you well for many years if you take care of them and keep your mouth healthy. This means taking the time for good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) and keeping regular appointments with your dental specialists.