Crowns and conventional bridges or dentures may not be your only options when replacing missing teeth. For some people, dental implants offer a smile that looks and feels very natural. Surgically placed below the gums over a series of appointments, implants fuse to the jawbone and serve as a base for individual replacement teeth, bridges or a denture.
Implants offer stability because they fuse to your bone. Integration of the implants into your jaw also helps your replacement teeth feel more natural and some people also find the secure fit more comfortable than conventional substitutes.
Candidates for dental implants need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. A thorough evaluation by your dentist will help determine whether you are a good candidate for dental implants.
A dental implant is a titanium screw- shaped artificial replacement of tooth root. An implant crown (artificial tooth) is than attached to artificial root.
The dental implant procedure is a 2-stage process separated by healing time, usually minimum of 3 months:
- Dental implant surgery: Dr. Kinga refers her patients to highly skilled and experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon or periodontist. Implant (or implants) is surgically placed in the patient's jawbone, usually under local anesthesia. Anxious patient may ask to have surgery done under sedation or general anesthesia. After implant is set into place gums are closed with stitches. It will take three months or longer for healing.
- Implant restoration: After placement site is fully healed, implant is ready to be uncovered for placement of an abutment. After fitting the right abutment Dr. Kinga will make an impression (almost identical to the impression for regular crown). Impression is than sent to laboratory for crown fabrication. Finally, a replacement tooth, (crown), is attached to the abutment. Instead of one or more individual crowns, some patients may have attachments placed on the implant that retain and support a implant denture.
Reasons you may want to consider dental implants:
- To replace one or more teeth
- To provide support for a partial denture
- To increase the support and stability of full upper or lower denture
- To enhance chewing comfort
- To increase confidence while smiling, talking and eating
- To improve your overall psychological health
- To improve esthetic appearance and regain over all confidence
An implant denture is a combination of traditional removable denture and implants. This type of denture fits better than regular one, as it is supported by implants.
Usually two to four implants are surgically placed in the bone. Healing process takes about six months after which Dr. Kinga can begin constructing an implant denture. An implant denture is a removable denture with attachments on the underside that clip onto a bar connected to the implants. The attachments and bar hold the denture in place and keep it from moving when chewing and speaking.
Implant dentures can be classified into two groups:
Implant Retained Dentures are held in place by the attachments, but are mainly supported by the bone and gum tissue as is a conventional denture.
Implant Supported Dentures are for patients who do not have sufficient bone and supporting gum tissue. The bar attached to the implants mainly supports this denture.
There are two ways to eliminate a gap between teeth, created by a missing tooth or teeth. One way is through dental implants; the other is through a bridge.
A bridge is made up of at least two crowns for the teeth on both sides of the gap — these two or more anchoring teeth are called abutment teeth — and a false tooth or teeth in between. These false teeth are called pontics. Dental bridges are supported by natural teeth or implants.
Why would you have a bridge done?
Bridges are primarily done to:
- Restore your smile
- Restore your ability to properly chew and speak
- Maintain the shape of your face
- Distribute the forces in your bite properly by replacing missing teeth
- Prevent remaining teeth from drifting out of position
The first four reasons are rather self-explanatory and most often used by patients as a rationale to have a bridge done. The last reason on the list is quite often overlooked, even though it is a very important one. The teeth adjacent to the gap created by missing teeth tend to shift with time. It might look like the remaining teeth are shifting to close the gap. What really happens can be seen only in the x-ray picture, which shows what is going on below the gum line and inside the jawbone. The x-ray reveals that the root of the shifting tooth is pressing against the root of the tooth located next to it. And, in accordance with the laws of physics, the more chewing is done, the more pressure is exerted. As a result, both roots are being damaged. This fact alone is a very good reason to consider having a bridge done.
What is the process for getting a dental bridge?
During the first visit for getting a dental bridge, Dr. Kinga will prepare the abutment teeth. The preparation involves recontouring these teeth by removing a portion of enamel to allow room for a crown to be placed over them. Next, impressions of your teeth will be taken, which serve as a model from which the bridge, pontic(s), and crowns will be manufactured by a dental laboratory.
During the second visit, Dr. Kinga will check and adjust the new bridge as necessary, to achieve a proper fit. Multiple visits may be required to check the fit of the metal framework and bite. This is dependent on each individual's case. The bridge may be temporarily cemented in place for a couple of weeks to make sure it fits properly. After a couple of weeks, the bridge will be permanently cemented into place.