What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants today have a proven success rate. If you have lost any of your teeth, or wear any type of denture, dental implants may offer many benefits. You will be able to eat easily, comfortably and confidently. You will notice an improvement in your appearance. Dental implants can improve the way you look and feel about yourself. Commonly, implant treatment is surprisingly simple from a patient’s perspective. Comparatively, it is less complex than doing extractions/root canals and similar to doing crown preparations.

Dental implants are root/screw form titanium fixtures. Implants bond (osteointegrate) with the bone and act as an anchor for replacement teeth. Think of them as tooth roots.

Dental implants can be used to replace a single lost tooth or many missing teeth. Several options are available to restore lost teeth. The Doctors will discuss these with you in detail.

Patients who have chosen implant supported teeth report that they are happy and comfortable for the first time since the loss of their original teeth.

What will my initial appointment for Dental Implants look like?

Your diagnosis for dental implant treatment will include medical history review, clinical periodontal examination, x rays, study models (if indicated) as well as a consultation between the doctors and your Dentist. Also, sometimes a Cone Beam Scan, a 3-D CT like scan, is indicated to correctly visualize your unique anatomy and render virtual implant treatment. It is necessary to be as thorough as possible in this initial planning phase to optimize long-term success and satisfaction.

Together with you and your Dentist, we will determine which type of restoration is best for you. Options include crowns for single tooth replacements, fixed bridges for multiple missing teeth and implant retained dentures. Each option will be carefully evaluated for your individual needs.

Dental Implant Restorations are Completed in Two Phases

The Surgical (first) Phase involves the placement of the root form implant/implants. Appointments are typically made in the morning. Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment to complete necessary paperwork. Prior to your appointment we will call-in your prescriptions to your pharmacy, analgesic/antibiotic/chlorohexidine gluconate mouth rinse, which can be picked up prior to your appointment. If you wish, a written prescription can be provided.

Implant Surgery is performed in the office with local anesthesia (you will be profoundly numb, lasting 4-8 hours) so you can drive yourself to and from the office. It is best that you take the balance of the day off, but some people do return to work immediately following treatment. The procedure is less complex than tooth extraction or root canal therapy. It is similar to having multiple crown preparations. Sutures will either dissolve or be removed in 7- 14 days. Oxyfresh gel is applied, primary ingredient being aloe, to promote healing and act as another level of disinfection.

If you feel nervous or anxious concerning this treatment then conscious sedation (IV and/or oral) can be made available if planned in advance. Please refer to the Anesthesia & Sedation section for specific pre-surgical instructions.

Since the implants are placed into the bone, we sometimes will need to “build up” the bone using various augmentation techniques. At times, this needs to be done several months before implant placement. At other times, they can be done along with the implant placement.

Implant treatment is easier (from a patient’s perspective) than extraction treatment. The common analogy is placing a post in concrete and allowing it to set, about 2-9 months depending on individual circumstances. The necessary healing time will be determined at the time of surgery and is a function of the quantity and quality of bone present. You will be able to use your own dentures/ partials or a removable provisional prosthesis will be made prior to surgery. There are situations, especially in the smile zone, where a tooth /teeth are removed and a non-removable provisional crown or bridge is fabricated at the same appointment.

The doctors will reevaluate the healed implant/implants and notify your dentist to proceed with the restorative phase.

The Restorative (Second) Phase involves constructing the permanent replacement tooth or teeth (the prosthesis). Your Dentist will be doing this aspect of the treatment (additional fee) and is no different than other crown and bridge procedures you already may be accustomed to. An impression is made of the implant/implants, it is sent to the lab and 2 weeks later custom posts and crowns/bridges are ready to be cemented or screwed into place. No anesthetic is typically needed. Following this treatment, it is important that you make a follow-up appointment with Dr. Fuentes or Dr. Peterson to check the prosthesis function and hygiene.