With the surgical placement of one or more dental implants, we can restore missing teeth, restoring your function and your look. Our staff at Roy C. Blake III, DDS, MSD, Maxillofacial Prosthodontist are happy to discuss and help you explore your options in replacing missing teeth, including providing more information about dental implants. We can give you a smile your missing.
What are dental implants?
A common misconception is that implants are replacement teeth, in actuality, they are replacement roots. If you consider the tooth in three different building blocks it would include the jawbone, the root, and the tooth. A dental implant is a replacement root. With a new root solidly in place we can then firmly attach a new replacement tooth, retained directly to the jawbone.
History of Dental Implants
The concept of dental implants is far older than any can imagine. Implants how we understand them today came into development in the 1960’s, but their history far extends much further back than that. The basic concept of dental implants is to replace the tooth right back into its socket, and evidence of this attempt extends thousands of years into our history. Archeologists have found evidence of human remains with a wide range of materials implanted in their mouths, including bamboo, shell, metal, and wood. It didn’t surprise scientists that people attempted this, but what did surprise them is noting the bone regrowth around the device.
In the early 1900s scientists took this knowledge and began to experiment with bone repair using metal devices. They found it to be surprisingly successful, though they still need to gather more information on biocompatibility and ensuring the patient’s overall comfort. Different metals come with different levels of usability, but the results of the bone willing to regrow brought excitement.
In the 1960’s the concept of placing metal into the jaw for the replacement of teeth became a subject of close examination. Through the research already in development scientists knew that titanium was the ideal metal of choice due to its high biocompatibility, meaning the patient was less likely to experience rejection or infection, and the fact that it was a strong metal that was also lightweight. The road to dental implants was well on its way. Today, surgeons of all types use titanium to make surgical repairs on bone throughout the skeletal frame.
Bone Health and Teeth Loss
Our bone is constantly renewing and growing. It is always working as we work. As we move and exercise, the bone responds with continuous strengthening and growth. The opposite is also true when we stop exercising; the bone pulls back the resources and stops strengthening. This is known as atrophy, and it can be seen in patients who use wheelchairs. They lose considerable mass in their legs. Or, if you’ve ever had a cast on an arm, when the cast is removed it is noticeably smaller in size. Our jawbone does the same thing when we lose a tooth, it pulls the resources away from that area, and the bone shrinks in size. Patients who have lost one tooth may not see a noticeable difference but lose two, three, or more and the changes to your facial shape will begin to be apparent. This sunken facial structure is something that we often associate with old age, but it’s from the loss of teeth.
Dental implants can help you retain your bone health by restoring the connection between your teeth and bone.
How do dental implants work?
A dental implant is a replacement root. It serves as a solid post in your mouth to permanently anchor a tooth directly to the jaw. This means that the tooth can be retained independently; it doesn’t rely on neighboring teeth for support. Traditional retention methods still required a post for stability, but it was using, and often damaging, neighboring teeth. A dental bridge would be retained by covering two healthy teeth with dental crowns, a partial denture would be held in place using clasps that surround, and often chip away at healthy teeth. Dental implants allow you to have these restorations without interfering with healthy teeth.
Dental implants can be used to restore a single tooth, multiple teeth or even retain a full denture:
Preparing for Dental Implants
We would love to meet with you and discuss the placement of one or more dental implants to restore missing teeth. A large amount of the work involved is in preparation and planning. When we meet, we will want to evaluate and discuss your dental needs, including evaluating the missing teeth and any possible unhealthy teeth. Though implants are approved for a wide range of patients and their medical needs, it is not the best option for everyone. We can review your medical history during your consultation.
We will want to review the oral cavity through standard digital x-rays and create a 3D digital x-ray map when planning the surgical procedure. With these x-rays, we will evaluate the health and density of the bone; most patients will require a simple bone graft procedure before we can proceed.
A bone graft sounds involved, but the process is fast and simple. We will first ensure that you are comfortable with a local anesthetic. We will then open the tissue to reveal the bone. We will place a small amount of bone material in the area, and this is often your bone from another location, generally the chin, but it can also be synthetic bone or donated bone material. We will place the bone and then close the area with sutures.
Placement is easy, and the soft tissue will heal within a couple of days, but it can take months for new bone to grow. We can proceed with the implant placement once sufficient bone has grown to sink the implant into. During this healing time, we may need to help the patient get infection under control from gum disease. We will want the patient to have a good maintenance plan with gum disease, and this will assist in healing later from their implant surgery.
Dental Implant Surgical Process
With planning and preparation in place, we can then proceed with the surgical procedure of placing your dental implant. The first step in any surgical process is ensuring the comfort of the patient. We will discuss your anesthetic options with you before surgery, and this may include a local anesthetic or one of many conscious sedatives.
Once comfortable, we will then proceed. With the precise treatment map close by, this entire procedure will take about one hour, and this may vary depending on the scope of your specific treatment. We begin with opening the tissue to expose the bone beneath. Using a specialized dental drill, we create a space in the bone to fit the implant device. The dental implant looks very similar to a screw-in size and shape, with a threaded end and a top that can support an attachment. The threaded end is sunk into the bone. Being threaded promotes increased surface area for the bone to be in contact with, and as the bone heals, it will grow around the threaded device bonding the two firmly together.
With the surgical insertion now complete, we will close the area with sutures. The soft gum tissue will heal in a matter of days, but the bone healing and growth can take several months, we will send the patient home for healing. In most cases, we will attach the dental prosthetic about three months following the implantation of the dental implant.
Why are Dental Implants a Preferred Choice?
Our patients love their dental implants, and the reasons are clear, dental implants are preferred over non-implant retained devices because:
Am I a candidate for dental implants?
Dental implants are ideal for a wide range of patients, even those who suffer from a wide range of medical or age-related issues. What is needed is the ability to heal in a timely matter. There are several factors that can reduce a patient’s ability to heal properly including medical conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes or cancer treatment, a range of medications, and if the patient smokes tobacco or marijuana. None of these conditions eliminate you from implant placement, but we may need to discuss options with your physician or have the patient stop smoking for a period before and after surgery. The proper ability to heal is a must for success in your implant surgery. We are happy to review and discuss your options with you.
Dental implants come with a variety of options. They vary in size, length, and what prosthetics can be used. We can find the right implant for your needs. Some implant variations include:
Single Tooth Replacement
Multiple Teeth Replacement
Partial Fixed Bridge
Complete Fixed Bridge
The All-on-4® Treatment Concept
Full Mouth Reconstruction
Mini Dental Implant
Schedule a Consultation
Find out if dental implants are right for you! Call (561) 437-3883 to schedule your consultation appointment today!
"Dr. Blake is always extremely professional, meticulous, accommodating, and at the same time, affable and sincerely interested in his patient’s well-being and concerns. The staff is at all times very courteous and professional. Their constant friendly and pleasant attitudes ensure that at every visit, the patient’s experience is always relaxing and positive." -John