Dental implants are titanium cylinders that are placed into the jawbone where original teeth once existed. Their purpose is to replace the form and function of missing teeth. A natural tooth consists of a crown (the part you see above the gums), and a root (the part hidden under the gums, anchored to the jawbone). It is the root that actually holds the tooth in place. A dental implant supports a replacement tooth in virtually the same way that your tooth's root supports your natural tooth. Dental implants are root-like cylinders used to secure a replacement tooth in place in a spot where a tooth is missing
Tooth with crown and root pointed out and an implant with fixture and replacement crown pointed out
Dental implants serve many amazing functions:
Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth - this eliminates the need to grind down or alter adjacent teeth for a bridge and eliminates removable partial dentures
Dental implants can be used as anchors to support a fixed bridge
Dental implants can support loose teeth by being splinted to them, allowing loose teeth to function better and last longer
Dental implants can support an entire set of replacement teeth for a toothless jaw
Dental implants can provide stability for a complete denture, thereby eliminating unsightly and embarrassing moving and clicking associated with dentures
Why should I consider dental implants?
If you are among the millions of Americans who are missing one or more teeth, then you can benefit greatly from dental implants. Missing teeth can lead to an unattractive smile, embarrassment, difficulty speaking and eating, and even low self-esteem. While traditional dentistry can replace missing teeth with the use of bridges or removable dentures, these options have their disadvantages. Bridges require shaving down the healthy teeth on either side of the space in order to support to replacement tooth. Dentures can be unstable and uncomfortable and can lead to mouth sores and trouble eating and speaking. Dental implants are an ideal option to replace missing teeth because they do not involve shaving down healthy teeth and they eliminate the need for unstable dentures.
Dental implants also help to avoid bone loss. When teeth are missing from the mouth, the jawbone that once supported the teeth begins to shrink away. This process is known as bone atrophy. Bone atrophy causes irreversible facial changes and makes wearing dentures even more difficult. Furthermore, once too much bone has shrunk away, you will no longer be a candidate for future dental implants. It is important to have your dental implants placed while you still have enough healthy bone available to stabilize the implants.
Dental implants restore missing teeth and eliminate the problems associated with bridges, dentures, and bone loss. People who have teeth replaced with dental implants report better ability to chew food and eat properly, renewed confidence while speaking and smiling, and better self-esteem.
Am I missing one, two, or more teeth?
Do I hide my smile because of unattractive spaces between my teeth or because I am missing teeth?
Am I having trouble eating, chewing, or speaking properly?
Do I lack confidence when I smile, speak, or eat?
Are my teeth loose, or do I need treatment for advanced gum disease?
Am I having any problems with existing crowns or bridges, either functionally or cosmetically?
Are the teeth holding my bridge loose or moving?
Do I have dentures that don’t stay in place or that cause sore spots when I chew?
Do my dentures need to be relined frequently because my bone is shrinking?
Do I carry my complete or partial dentures in my pocket or leave them at home?
Can I wait three to nine months for the entire implant process to be completed?
Will I be willing to commit to the high standard of home care that is necessary to properly maintain dental implants?
Will I follow up with regular cleanings and dental check-ups?
Do I believe that my life could be better if my teeth were improved?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, than you can benefit from dental implants!
having replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth
avoiding bone loss and damage to surrounding healthy teeth
having the ability to smile again with confidence
an improved appearance
having the ability to eat the foods you love and have better nutrition
improved confidence and self-esteem
an improved quality of life
Dental implants are also an incredible value for your investment. They are a product that you will use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, probably for many, many years of your life!
What does the dental implant procedure involve?
Once you have decided that you are ready to improve your life with dental implants, you will have a consultation at our office to determine if you are a good candidate for the dental implant procedure. This consultation will consist of a complete medical and dental history, an analysis of digital x-rays, and a thorough oral examination. If you are a candidate for implant surgery, an appointment will be scheduled for you to begin treatment.
Replacing a tooth with a dental implant is a procedure that consists of three separate stages: the implant fixture, the abutment, and the restoration (the crown, bridge, or implant-retained denture).
Real life implant, abutment, and crown
The implant fixture is the portion of the dental implant that lies below the gum line and acts as the artificial root for the replacement tooth. It is usually a titanium screw that is surgically placed into the jawbone. The surgery is done right here in the comfort of our office, under local anesthesia. After placement the implant is left untouched for four to six months. During this time the surgical site heals and the dental implant anchors itself, or osseointegrates, to the surrounding bone.
Stage 2: The Abutment
Once the implant site has healed and the implant fixture has osseointegrated to the bone, a post known as an "abutment" is placed into the implant. The abutment is screwed into the implant about four to six months after the implant fixture was surgically placed. The abutment lies above the gum line and its function is to become the support for the final replacement tooth or teeth.
Stage 3: The Restoration
After the abutment is placed, an impression is taken and sent to a dental laboratory. This impression provides the laboratory with the information needed to fabricate a final restoration, typically a crown, bridge, or implant-retained denture. The final restoration is returned to our office and we permanently attach it to the abutment. Your mouth is now restored with natural looking, strong teeth.
How do I know if I am a candidate for dental implants?
Most likely, you are a candidate for dental implants! To find out for sure, you will need to have a complimentary consultation with us. During this consultation, a complete dental and medical history will be taken, a clinical examination will be performed, and digital x-rays will be taken to determine if you have enough bone available to support dental implants. During the consultation we will discuss your treatment options and will answer any questions you may have regarding dental implants.
There are some medical conditions that might prevent a person from being a good candidate for dental implants. These may include uncontrolled diabetes, uncontrolled high blood pressure, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, blood disorders, rare bone disorders, or bone marrow cancer. Some physical factors may include insufficient or poor quality bone, low sinuses, or the location of certain nerve bundles in the jaw.
There is no age limitation for dental implants! Any person at any age can have dental implants placed as long as they are in good health and have enough bone available to support the implants.
While dental implants are designed to be permanent, their long-term success depends on several factors. First of all, success greatly depends on the quantity and quality of bone available to support the implants. Adequate bone of excellent quality leads to a greater chance of long-term success.
The experience and ability of the implant dentist is another important factor. As with any surgical procedure, there is no substitute for the experience and individual talent of the surgeon. At the Kurpis Center for Advanced Dentistry, we have been placing dental implants for over 30 years! We were pioneers in the field of dental implantology and even hold a United States patent on a dental implant!
The quality of the restorations placed on top of the implants also plays a large role in their long-term success. If the implant crowns or overdenture are incorrectly designed or poorly constructed, or if the biting forces are not properly balanced when the final restoration is placed, even the most ideal dental implants will have a compromised survival rate.
Finally, factors such as smoking cigarettes and lack of proper daily home care and professional cleanings and check-ups can compromise dental implants. It is up to you to maintain your implants and have them cleaned and examined by a dentist every three to four months. If these factors are met, research has shown that dental implants can last for a patient's lifetime.
Before and After Gallery
Here we see a patient who is missing his left lateral incisor. After removal of his original tooth, the patient required a bone graft followed by a titanium implant. An all ceramic abutment (post) was placed into the implant, followed by an all porcelain natural looking crown.
Here is another case where a maxillary lateral incisor was replaced by a dental implant followed by a porcelain-fused-to-gold-alloy crown.
Here we see that a right lateral incisor was missing and the canine tooth drifted into its place. A longer titanium dental implant was necessary to withstand the biting load. The implant was restored with an all ceramic crown
This case is an example of a missing molar tooth being replaced by a dental implant. Molar teeth are used for hard chewing. Dental implants placed here should be as wide as possible to maximize support.
This patient lost his upper front teeth due to gum disease. This resulted in unattractive, dark, triangular spaces showing when he smiled or spoke. To fix this situation, six dental implants were placed into his maxillary (upper) jaw bone. The implants were restored with custom abutments and porcelain crowns with pink porcelain "gum tissue" to simulate a natural and younger looking dentition.
This is another case of teeth lost due to the effects of periodontal (gum) disease. Dental implants were placed in both the upper and lower jaws. The patient's bite was raised and a more normal bite relationship was established. This not only improved his ability to chew but also improved his profile and the overall look of his smile.
Nothing ages a woman more than the loss of teeth. The face begins to "sink in" and the bite starts to change. Fortunately for this patient, the simple replacement of missing teeth with dental implants restored her bite and brought back a more youthful looking smile.
This patient had an old dental fixed bridge which failed over time. She was told she needed a full upper denture. However, an alternative approach using maxillary titanium dental implants allowed her to have "fixed" non removable teeth instead of a denture. This significantly improved her self esteem.
When patients lose their back teeth, they have dark tunnels in the corners of their mouth when they smile. To eliminate this unsightly condition, bilateral maxillary dental implants were placed and restored with porcelain crowns. The porcelain crowns had the addition of pink porcelain "gum tissue" to replace the receded gums. This makes the porcelain crowns appear more natural.
This patient lost seven of his front teeth. All teeth were replaced with titanium implants and restored with porcelain-fused-to-gold-alloy crowns.
Nothing can be as disheartening as losing all of your upper teeth. It permanently ages the look of your face and seriously impacts your ability to chew food. By placing dental implants, this patient was able to restore her mouth with permanent "fixed" crowns on her lower jaw and a fixed bar and a removable set of "clip on" teeth for her upper jaw. This resulted in a dramatic improvement of cosmetics and function.
Here is another case where placing just four dental implants on top helped to restore the entire upper jaw to normal function and esthetics. This fixed/removable appliance is extremely comfortable and is held securely in place by the dental implants, eliminating the need for sticky/smelly adhesives routinely used by denture wearers.
In this case the patient has a dental implant supported overdenture on the top jaw and porcelain crowns on the bottom jaw. This full mouth restoration brought back her youthful looking smile and improved her self esteem and confidence.
This patient received eight dental implants in his upper jaw. Once the implants healed, a "permanent" fixed bridge was cemented over the implants. Notice the addition of pink porcelain around the necks of the crowns. This pink porcelain simulates his receded natural gum tissue. This addition of lost pink gum tissue on the restoration is what makes the teeth look "real" and natural.
When teeth are lost due to the destructive effects of periodontal disease, they can often be replaced with implants and porcelain crowns. If not enough bone is available, as is the case with his upper jaw, a fixed/removable appliance can be fabricated to replace all the missing teeth.