Dental implants provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel and function like natural teeth. They are a great option for people who have lost teeth due to periodontal disease or some other cause.
By Judith Nembhard
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Dental Implant Basics
Implants are tiny titanium posts surgically placed in the jawbone where teeth are missing. Once a metal implant post is placed, the jawbone grows into the surface of the implant. Over several weeks, the implant becomes more and more fixed in the bone, providing a strong foundation for the replacement tooth (a process called osseointegration). Usually, a temporary tooth replacement is worn over the implant site.
The second phase of the dental implant procedure involves attaching a small metal post called an abutment. Some implant systems (single-stage) do not require this second step, because they use an implant which already has the extension piece attached. During the third phase, a dentist attaches a replacement tooth, or crown, to the abutment.
Endosteal vs. Subperiosteal Implants
Endosteal (in the bone) is the most common type of implant, and includes screws, cylinders, and blades surgically inserted directly into the jawbone. The procedure is used as an alternative to bridges or removable dentures.
Subperiosteal (on the bone) places the implant on top of the jaw, the metal framework protruding through the gum to hold the prosthesis. This is done for patients unable to wear conventional dentures and who have minimal bone height.
Increasingly, surgeons and dentists are cutting months off treatment time by offering the dental implant procedure and restorative dentistry at the same time. “Fast and fixed” is a surgical concept that places single-stage implants and attaches a fixed prosthesis to them on the same day. The patient is able to leave with a fixed solution instead of having a temporary prosthesis while the implant osseointegrates with the bone.