The closest replacment to your natural teeth is dental implants. With an implant, you can live the way you are used to living and have confidence in eating the foods you enjoy. An implant allows you to smile with confidence, laugh, talk, and kiss just as you’ve always done. With a dental implant, you can continue to enjoy everyday activities without worrying about your teeth.

What is a Dental Implant?

When you receive a dental implant, your dentist has to surgically secure metal posts into your jawbone under your gum. When these posts are in place, the dentist will mount replacement teeth into the posts or as some refer to as frames.

A dental implant fuses to jawbone and will give you the support you need for artificial teeth to be attached to them. Bridges and dentures, when attached to implants, will stay securely in place, which is a significant benefit when speaking or talking. An implant will create a more natural feel and look for single crowns, dentures, or bridges than those conventionally inserted.

The dental implant is an artificial root that resembles a screw. These implants are put into your jawbone where they will bond to your natural bone. Once they have become a sturdy base, they are able to support one more fake or artificial teeth. The connector or an abutment is put on top of the dental implant to which the false tooth or teeth will attach.

Technology has allowed dental implants to be used successfully for more than thirty years. These implants have become the most durable devices in the dental field to support replacement teeth. The dental implants allow you to function, look, and feel natural. When you seek proper dental care by trained and experienced dentists, dental implant surgery is one of the safest procedures performed in dentistry. These are five other facts surrounding dental implants:

  • A dental implant is one of the only dental restoration options you have for preserving your natural bone, and which stimulates bone growth
  • The Swedish orthopedic surgeon, P.J. Branemark discovered in 1952 that titanium would naturally fuse to the bone. This discovery switched his research to the mouth from the knee and hip
  • The dental implant can be traced back to 600 AD as tooth-like pieces of shell were hammered into the jaw of a woman from Mayan
  • A small group of dentists in 1951 formed the American Academy of Implant Dentistry to share their knowledge of successfully placed dental implants. This organization went on to become the first professional organization in the world to dedicate itself to advancing implant dentistry
  • The number of people having dental implant surgery grows by more than 50,000 each year

Why Should You Choose a Dental Implant?

Before the dental implant, people who wore dentures were not able to chew a variety of foods. Dental implants have reshaped the replacement of teeth, making it possible for those with artificial teeth to continue their daily lives and diets just as they did with their natural teeth.

The titanium screw, or dental implant, fuses with the bone in the jaw through a process called osseointegration. This process involves the implant connecting to a component called an abutment, which will support a crown. The dental implant option is able to perform better than other teeth-replacement choices such as dentures and bridges.

Your natural teeth are helping to preserve your jawbone. Bridges and partial dentures do more harm to your remaining natural teeth and do not support the bone in your jaw. With a fixed bridge, you will have a good tooth structure cut away from the adjacent teeth where the bridge will be placed, and partial dentures require your natural teeth to hold them in place. These actions severely weaken the natural teeth remaining in your mouth.

The American Academy of Implant Dentistry, states the average life expectancy for a bridge is from five to ten years. The rate of failure for the teeth supporting the bridge is about thirty percent. And when looking at full dentures, these devices slip and restrict the types of food you can consume.

When you choose the dental implant, you are receiving an implant that offers stability to the bone in your jaw. This option also does not impact or affect any of the adjacent teeth. The American Academy of Implant Dentistry states there is a 97 percent long-term success rate for the dental implant.

With the dental implant, you eliminate problems connected to other replacement methods, and they allow you to eat any foods you like. You can use the dental implant to replace one tooth, and with as few as four implants, you can replace all of the upper or lower teeth. Determining how many implants will be needed depends on your jawbone size. The longer the implant can be, the fewer implants are required to support the replacement of several or all of your teeth.

How is a Dental Implant Placed?

Beginning the dental implant placement requires a small slit be made in the gum tissue over where the implant will sit or where the tooth is missing. With the use of several sized drills, a preparation is made in the bone where the implant will be screwed into the bone of your jaw. The gum tissue is then stitched back closed after the insertion. The dentist uses local anesthesia or sedation while performing the insertion of the implant.

It will require about four months for the implant to heal and begin fusing to the bone in your jaw. This procedure does require surgery, so your mouth, jaw, and gums will need time to heal. The dental implant procedure needs a dental team approach. The oral surgeon surgically places the implant, and a restorative dentist will make the teeth which will be attached to the implant.

The AAOMS (American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons) states all ages of people are candidates for dental implants, except growing children. If you have suffered bone loss from previous gum disease, a bone-grafting procedure can be done so that the implant can still attach. If you have controlled medical conditions, you may still qualify for a dental implant as well. Talk with your dentist at Washington Dental about any concerns you may have regarding a dental implant. They will sit down and discuss your medical history to determine the best course of action for your teeth.

How Does a Crown Attach to a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is used as a root replacement for a tooth. The crown is the part of the tooth you see when you open your mouth. Surgically positioned into your jawbone, the implant then fuses with the bone in a process called ‘osseointegration.’ After years of research, ingenuity, and thought, dental implants have become a fail-safe system for tooth-replacement.

Implant crowns are attached to the surgically placed implants (posts or frames) in a precise manner so that the crown emerges through the gum tissue in the right direction. An adjoining support structure, or abutment,  is then used to complete the connection and transition of the crown.

The implant pieces are much like the children’s Lego toys. The pieces are designed to be taken apart. Screw-retained implant crowns can be easily maintained as they allow for retention. These crowns keep abutments and implant crowns in place, yet retrievable. A screw-retained implant crown can be removed to be repaired or replaced without affecting the implanted post or frame inside the jaw. The dental implant has been designed to last you a lifetime; however, most crowns do not last that long. Periodically the crown will need to be repaired or replaced, which is much easier to do if they are screw-retained.

With the screw-retained crown implant, you may experience a loosening of the screw. The procedure to replace or retighten this screw is simple. If your implant is cemented in, which is the other option for implants, it cannot be maintained as easily. Some feel the screw-retained implant is unattractive. This statement can be true for certain locations in your mouth. If the implant you are receiving would be visible, your dentist will most likely suggest you go with the cemented restoration to cover the abutment screw completely.

The screw-retained implant restoration can only be used on your biting surfaces, such as your back teeth. In the back of your mouth, the screw access holes will not be conspicuous. The holes can even be filled with a tooth-colored filling material so that only your dentist will be able to see them. Keep in mind the cement can become a problem if it ever needs to be removed.

When you receive a screw-retained crown implant, it will be easier to manage if done immediately. In some situations, the implant has to be left for several months to allow it to fuse to the jaw bone (osseointegrate) before the crown can be attached. In other situations, the crown can be attached at the same time the implant is positioned (immediate loading). The screws offer you an advantage in this case over the cementing in process. The cement seal can be lost throughout those six to eight weeks of waiting for the fusing, or it can cause inflammation if it flows below your gum tissues.

How do Dentures Attach to Dental Implants?

It isn’t just your smile that is impacted when you lose one or more of your natural teeth. There are a variety of problems you’ll face that will affect you physically and emotionally. You might experience difficulty with your speech, eating can become more of a challenge, and you may even have to give up certain foods. If you lose only one tooth or a few, there may be shifting of the existing teeth in your jaw that can result in physical discomfort as well. Dentures are a solution to replacing natural teeth in your mouth, and when you have them implanted, you gain a secure, natural look.

Implanted retained dentures can be placed on either your upper or lower jaw and provide you more comfort and convenience than the traditional dentures. An implant retained solution is to have a ball attachment or locator implanted into a lower jaw for lower-jaw dentures. With only two dental implants as anchors, you can have a full set of dentures snap into these anchors and provide you with a natural looking and functional set of lower teeth.

With the bar attachment denture, you will have from two to six implants placed in your lower jaw that will allow for a full set of dentures to be anchored in place. You will then be fitted for a customized support bar that will attach to the dental implants which the teeth snap into by using special retention clips. These types of dentures are called ‘overdenture’ and will hold your teeth securely with little to no shifting or movement as you speak or go about your daily routine. A benefit to this system is that your dentures are still able to be removed for cleaning.

Another type of denture implants are the screw-retained dentures. The screw-retained dentures are your best option for permanent teeth replacement, especially if you are looking at a full set of teeth. With this option, you will have four or more implants into your lower jaw. The whole set of dentures is then attached to these implanted anchors with the use of screws. These dentures are incredibly secure, but cannot be removed for cleaning.

When you cannot remove your dentures for cleaning, it can pose problems for some; however, with daily cleaning around and under the teeth, you can complete this process. You will also want to make sure you clean well along the gum line of the full set of dentures as well.

If you also need dentures for your upper jaw, there are a variety of solutions available. The bones in the upper jaw differ from those in the lower jaw, so the dental implant process is different. There are options for specifically having the dentures placed, so there is no need for the dental appliance to extend across and cover your palette or roof of the mouth. This option allows you to speak and eat more natural. When you have a set of dentures in your upper jaw that is supported by a dental implant, they will not shift or move as quickly. Another benefit is they can be removed for cleaning and maintenance.

When you have a set of upper dentures supported by dental implants, you have many benefits:

  • Your confidence is restored as these dentures feel and look like natural teeth
  • You do not have to worry about eating as the multiple secure anchor points make these implant-retained dentures secure and do not allow for shifting
  • Your gums and bones are preserved with the supporting structures in your mouth remaining engaged. These dentures also preserve the function of your mouth and appearance
  • Many patients find their dental hygiene is easier to maintain with implant-retained dentures
  • The implant-retained dentures are custom made to fit your natural look and smile
  • You no longer have to worry about which foods you eat, so you are able to maintain a nutritional balance to your diet

How Does a Dental Bridge Attach to a Dental Implant?

There are solutions to replacing that open space in your mouth from the loss of one or more teeth due to damage, decay, or an injury.  A dental bridge can cover that gap left from a lost tooth or teeth. There are four types of bridges that your dentist can offer to you; a traditional bridge, cantilever bridge, Maryland bridge, or the implant-supported bridge. The following briefly describes the four options. You can talk with your dentist at Washington Dental to see which options best meets your needs.

  • The most commonly used bridge for replacing a lost tooth is the traditional bridge. It is made up of one or more fake teeth (pontics) which are held in place by a dental crown. The crown is the abutment which has been cemented in place onto the adjacent teeth of your missing tooth.

A traditional bridge can also be used when your natural teeth are still in place next to the gap of the missing tooth. Bridges are a strong option, but the downside is the dentist will have to remove the enamel from your natural, adjacent teeth in order to make room for the crowns. Enamel cannot grow back, so when it is removed from a tooth, that tooth will then need protection with a crown.

  • Cantilever bridges are another option for your missing tooth and are very similar to the traditional bridge. The difference with the cantilever is the fake tooth is supported by an abutment on just one side and not on both sides. This option means that if you only have one natural tooth next to the gap, the bridge can still be secured.

Your dentist will have to prepare the adjacent tooth just as with the traditional bridge option. The enamel will have to be removed from the adjacent tooth. The National Institute of Health states the cantilever bridge can often act as a lever that can lead to problems such as a crown coming loose or teeth fracturing.

  • A Maryland bridge is considered a conservative approach over the traditional bridge but also has some downsides. The bridge is made up of the fake tooth being held in place by a porcelain or metal framework. The framework is attached to the back of the two adjacent teeth to the missing tooth. It is not held in place by a crown, so the adjacent teeth do not have to have their enamel removed.

The downside to the Maryland bridge is that its strength is limited. It will only be as strong as the resin used to hold it in place. If this fake tooth is going to have a lot of action, or in a high-bite area of your mouth, it may not stay in place. Patients have complained this option causes the framework to get in the way of their gums or bite action.

  • An implant-supported bridge is the fourth option to replace a missing tooth. This option also allows for the replacement of more than one tooth, and instead of being held in place by a crown, it is secured with a dental implant. There is typically one implant for each fake tooth needed, and with a series of implants, the bridge can be held securely in place.

The implant-supported bridge will provide you with a more secure and comfortable fit just as your natural teeth felt. There is one disadvantage of this option, and that is, you will require two surgeries to place the implants. Your first surgery will be to place the implants, and the second one will attach the bridge. 

The gap in your mouth can be filled with any one of these four choices, or there are other alternatives your dentist might suggest. Talk with the specialists at Washington Dental to find out what your options are to regaining your smile. If you think a dental implant will benefit your oral health, there are a couple of considerations to think about. You must have enough healthy bone and gums to support the implant. If there are issues with either your gums or bone, talk to your dentist as you may require a bone-grafting procedure in order to receive the dental implant.

Find a Dental Implant Specialist Near Me

Are ready to regain your lifestyle and smile, then contact Washington Dental. You will find we have the best experienced and knowledgable staff on hand to help you restore and maintain proper oral health. Don't go another day missing out on social events because you're embarrassed with your smile, or miss out on eating your favorite foods due to missing teeth. Talk with them about the many options available to relieve tooth pain, replace missing teeth, or any other concerns with your oral health you may have.