What are Dental Implants?
Dental Implants are titanium posts that mimic tooth roots and are surgically anchored to the jawbone, below the gumline. Once placed, implants become fused to the surrounding bone and serve as rigid anchors for dental restorations.
Implants are the ideal option when a single tooth is lost. Traditionally, fixed bridges were fabricated to replace a single tooth, but these restorations require the aggressive crown preparation of the adjacent teeth. If there is a subsequent issue with one of those anchoring teeth, the entire bridge might be lost and the patient might be facing another, more extensive procedure. In addition, the bone beneath the lost tooth continues to dissolve away and patients with fixed bridgework tend to struggle to keep these areas free of plaque and food, rendering the supportive teeth more vulnerable to gum disease and tooth decay.
Single-unit implant-supported crowns have overcome all of these challenges. With implants, we can keep single-tooth problems (i.e., extractions) single-tooth solutions. We don’t have to needlessly prepare the adjacent teeth and anchor the teeth together and thus, implant restorations are much easier to keep clean and free of disease. When teeth are lost, the natural response of the surrounding bone is to dissolve away, and continued foundational bone loss is very destructive to the chewing system. If an implant is placed after a tooth is extracted, this destructive process of bone loss can be greatly reduced. Because they’re made of titanium, they’re not vulnerable to recurrent decay and tend to be a highly successful, long-term solution.
Implants can also be utilized to create longer span bridgework. If several adjacent teeth were lost, it’s possible to place single-unit implants to replace each lost tooth OR you could place 2 implants and then fabricate a multi-unit bridge between those implants.
With more and more lost teeth, partial dentures and full dentures may become necessary. Such prostheses have historically been wrought with challenges including awkward movements during chewing, the creation of painful sore spots from rubbing against tissues, and embarrassment when they become displaced while speaking or eating. Implants can come to the rescue with dentures too. They can be strategically positioned in areas underneath dentures and serve to lock those dentures into place. An implant-supported denture doesn’t shift around during chewing, alleviating the challenges of the past and allowing patients to chew more forcefully and confidently.
If a patient has lost their teeth and doesn’t want a removable denture, implants can also be utilized to allow for a fixed, permanent restoration. This image shows an option commonly referred to as “All on Four”, where 4 implants are strategically placed for an entire arch and the restoration is screwed into the implants and isn’t removed like a conventional denture.
Dr Schweifler has grown strong professional relationships with specialists that are highly skilled and experienced in successfully placing dental implants. Once the surgeon places an implant or implants, these areas must be left alone to heal over several months. After implants have osseointegrated (bone adjacent to the implant fuses to it), Dr Schweifler begins the restorative process. If you’ve lost a tooth or multiple teeth and are wondering if you could benefit from implants, please ask to consult with Dr Schweifler to get educated and to explore your options.