Dental Implants Recreating Your Beautiful Smile

For those suffering from the pain and discomfort of missing and/or damaged teeth, dental implants not only provide relief, but also protection against further bone deterioration.

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What They Are: Dental implants are tiny posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone in areas where teeth are missing. These little anchors, usually made of titanium, act as substitutes for your natural tooth roots. They bond with your bone to create a strong foundation for a replacement tooth or bridge.

How They Can Help: Implants can be game changers for people who have lost or damaged teeth – whether the tooth damage or loss is from gum disease (the most common reason), tooth grinding, acute trauma, or something else. They provide the foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth – allowing patients to eat normally again and smile with confidence.

Why They’re Often Preferred:

• They are very long-lasting.

• They are considered a “conservative” treatment approach. Unlike fixed bridges, implants don’t require any shaping or cutting of the teeth next to the missing or damaged tooth.

• They offer more stability and comfort than removable dentures.

• They actually help prevent bone deterioration.

The Procedure: Dental implant surgery is normally performed under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. In most cases, it’s a three-step process: first, the implants are placed in the jawbone by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Then, after a lengthy period during which the implants bond with the jawbone, the oral surgeon attaches small posts to the implants that act as anchors for teeth. Finally, the tooth restorations are completed by a dentist.

However, recent advances in dental implant technology are now allowing oral and maxillofacial surgeons to perform both surgical steps – the implants and the posts – at the same time. Called “single-stage” implants, these implants do not require two procedures. However, they do require around six weeks of healing time before the artificial teeth are placed.

Expert Advice: Better Placement

Bill Childress, DDS, M.D. East Brainerd Oral Surgery

Brainerd Oral Surgery

“In recent years, the introduction of 3D cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) has greatly improved the placing of dental implants. CBCT technology generates a 3D image of the jaw. With this new ability to view the jawbone in three dimensions, an oral surgeon can better determine the ideal position of the dental implant to properly support the replacement tooth. The imaging also allows for better avoidance of vital structures, such as the nerve in the lower jaw and the sinus in the upper jaw. This degree of accuracy is not possible with conventional 2D imaging techniques such as panoramic or intraoral techniques.”