Dental implants are artificial tooth replacements that were first developed half a century ago by a Swedish scientist named Per-Ingvar Branemark.
The root implant, by far the most popular, is the most effective because it mirrors the size and shape of a patient’s natural tooth. The implant or artificial root is placed into the jawbone under local anesthesia, then allowed to heal and integrate with the bone. Once the healing process is completed and the bone has grown in around the implant, the patient returns to the dental office where the implant is fitted with the new tooth in the form of a crown or bridge.
On an x-ray, the implant appears as a screw shaped cylinder, about the size of a natural tooth root. The placement procedure is not painful and is fairly quick. You do not need to be sedated or put to sleep for this procedure. Local anesthesia is completely adequate for the placement of the implant. Once the numbness wears off there will be minimal discomfort and there is generally no need for anything stronger than over the counter pain medicines like Ibuprofen, Naproxen or Tylenol. The inner portion of bones do not contain sensory nerve endings so you will not be able to feel the implant in your bone.
While the implant looks like a screw, it is actually a hollow cylinder. During the healing process a flat healing cap is fitted onto the top of the implant to prevent food from going down into it. The healing cap sits flat along your gumline. You will have only a couples millimeters of the implant sitting above the gumline in the form of the healing cap.
Once healing is complete you will return to your dentist and he will remove the healing cap. An abutment that acts like a tooth is then fitted into the inner portion of the implant. An impression is then taken of the abutment and sent to a lab. The lab then creates a crown or bridge that is attached to the abutment. This entire fitting process is quick, painless and usually requires no anesthesia. In fact, most people that have had an implant placed to replace a tooth, or several teeth, say the process is much easier and less painful than having a regular crown or bridge performed since you are not having your own tooth drilled on.
Implants can be used to replace single or multiple teeth. Long span bridges can also be placed on implants, as well as dentures. Your dentist can discuss your options with you.
Dr. Lee is currently the only dentist at our office that can both surgically place the implant and restore it with a crown. Dr. Glasgow can also restore implants but does not surgically place them. Dr's Brown, Moller and Hamman do not restore or surgically place implants. If you are new to our office and need to have an implant surgically placed you should schedule a consultation with Dr. Lee. If you are an existing patient but usually see one of our other dentists you can still schedule with Dr. Lee for your implant placement.
Post Implant Care
You cannot get a cavity on an implant but it is still important to brush and floss around your implant(s) like you would your regular teeth to prevent gum inflammation. Patients are advised to visit their dentists at least twice a year to ensure the health of their teeth and implants. Dental implants can last for decades and even for the rest of your life when given proper care.