Sometimes, the fear of losing a tooth and living with an incomplete smile and decreased function can prevent patients from taking care of a dental problem quickly. Some patients will suffer from seemingly unbearable tooth pain because they do not know what the best solution is for providing immediate relief. Whether a tooth must be removed or it is already missing, dental implant placement is the best restorative solution to ensure the long-term health of the mouth. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons Dr. John Bennion, Dr. Andrew Boyce, and Dr. Kyle Tracy provide patients with a variety of restorative solutions utilizing dental implants that not only eliminate tooth pain but restore a beautiful new smile that patients will be proud to show.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a small, medical-grade titanium post that is inserted into the jaw and supports the final dental restoration. There are three parts to a dental implant:
- The implant itself, which fuses with the jaw bone to create a stable base for the new tooth.
- The abutment, which is inserted into the implant and serves as a base for the crown.
- The crown, a porcelain restoration that is placed on top of the abutment and looks and functions like the natural tooth.
Dental implants are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything and can smile with confidence, knowing that their new teeth appear natural.
What are the benefits of replacing a missing tooth with dental implants?
Patients who undergo dental implant therapy find that the restoration offers a variety of benefits not offered by other forms of dental restoration, such as fixed bridges, removable partial dentures, and/or full-arch dentures.
Dental implants provide the following benefits:
A Long-Term Solution. Once the implants are in place, they will serve you well for many years if you take care of them and keep your mouth healthy. This means taking the time for good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) and keeping regular appointments with your dental specialists.
Enhanced Aesthetics. Dental implant crowns are replicated to fit into every patient’s mouth uniquely so that the restoration looks just like the original, healthy tooth, thus allowing patients to smile with ease.
Increased Stability. Dental implants are made of medical-grade titanium, which fuses with the jaw bone during the healing period, creating the most stable restoration available and helping to ensure that the dental implant acts just like a natural tooth. Patients with dental implants have no trouble biting into apples, eating chewy foods like caramel, or speaking and enunciating properly.
Maintain the Health of the Adjacent Teeth. When dental implants are placed, there is no need to grind down or damage adjacent teeth to cement a bridge or utilize the strength of adjacent teeth to carry their burden. Additionally, dental implants can be brushed and flossed like natural teeth, making it easier to maintain the health of the mouth and avoid tooth decay or periodontal disease.
Decreased Bone Loss. When a tooth is missing for an extended period of time, the jaw bone beneath the gums can begin to deteriorate. When dental implants are placed, the jaw bone fuses with the implant screw and maintains its natural contour.
Are dental implants the right solution for me?
If you are missing a tooth or need to have a tooth removed, dental implants are the best option for replacement. During your initial consultation, your doctor will review your medical history and X-rays and perform a thorough oral examination to determine if you are a candidate for a dental implant. If the bone in your jaw is thin, you may need an additional procedure, called bone grafting, to build up the bone so that proper bone height and width are present for the dental implant.
During your first procedure, the implant will be placed, and you will need to wait a few weeks for the surgical site to heal and the implant to fuse with the jaw bone. After healing, when the implant is securely anchored in the bone, an abutment is attached to the implant and functions as the core of the replacement tooth. The abutment can be adjusted and shaped to allow the replacement tooth, or crown, to blend in with the adjacent teeth.
The final step is to affix a crown to the abutment. The crown is shaped and colored to match your surrounding teeth. The finished result matches your natural teeth.
What types of prostheses are available?
A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth — each prosthetic tooth attaches to its own implant. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) can replace two or more teeth and may require only two or three implants. A complete dental prosthesis (fixed bridge) replaces all of the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. The number of implants varies depending upon which type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended. A removable prosthesis (over-denture) snaps onto attachments on the implants, whereas a fixed prosthesis is screwed in place and removable only by the dentist.
If you are interested in learning more about dental implants, contact Billings Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled surgeons at one of our three convenient office locations in Billings, MT, and Cody, WY. Our office and surgical staff members are happy to answer any questions you may have to ensure you receive high-quality care.