Missing teeth not only affects your smile and confidence, it also affects the way you speak. There are various methods to replace missing teeth but dental implants is the most sophisticated method and is widely regarded as the preferred form of tooth replacement. With new surgical techniques and intra-venous sedation, the procedure is almost painless and the final aesthetic result can replicate nature – in function and appearance.
An implant comprises 3 parts. The first part or “fixture”, which is made of titanium, is placed within bone. The second part or “abutment” emerges through the gums and is used to carry the 3rd part, which is the crown, bridge or denture depending on how many teeth are missing.
After decayed or fractured teeth are removed, the implant is surgically placed in the jawbone and allowed to heal. During this time, temporary teeth are provided. After 3 months, the abutment as well as the final crown, bridge or denture is then connected.
In some patients when the quality of the patient’s remaining bone is good, the “same-day teeth” concept can be used to allow the patient to resume his normal day to day lifestyle almost immediately. If the remaining bone is insufficient, we can still place implants after “bone regeneration”.
Implants are often used to replace fractured or extracted teeth and in general it takes three months for the bone to grow around the implant in order to anchor it firmly in the jaw. During this waiting period, temporary bridges or dentures are used.
With the advent of medical science and technology, it is possible to reduce this waiting period. Implants can be placed immediately into extraction sites for patients with missing front teeth though it is not always possible for back teeth. If the implant lies firmly within bone, it is possible to even allow partial loading immediately after the surgery.
In combination, with the latest computer assisted techniques, it is possible to deliver aesthetic looking temporary teeth in selected cases within 3 hours after the surgery. The patients are however advised to avoid chewing on the implant, especially in the initial weeks after the initial surgery when the original bone anchoring the implant would have been resorbed with the new bone yet to form.
When teeth are missing or extracted, the jawbone in which it is anchored is lost as well. The overlying gum also recedes, reducing the amount of support for face and lips. This often creates an aged appearance.
As bone is required in order to place implants, there is a need to “grow back the bone”. Thankfully, even if teeth have been lost for a long time, implants can still be placed after regenerating the jaw bone using a combination of bone grafts and special membranes.
Bone graft material can either be harvested from near the implant site, or processed from synthetic or other calcified sources. They serve as the supporting framework in areas of missing bone. Our body would then initiate its healing process and remodel the graft material into functioning bone.
Pacific Healthcare Specialist Centre – Dentistry