Before the invention of dental implants in 1952, if you had a missing tooth or missing teeth, you had to just walk around with gaps in your smile or put up with pesky removable prosthestics. Now, thanks to advancements in dental care, you can have a picture-ready smile regardless of how many teeth are missing.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants completely replace your teeth. Dental implants are surgically placed into the jawbone and, over a few months, fuse to the bone. Once the dental implants are in place, they provide a strong foundation for crowns or full arch prosthestics.
Dental implants are specially made to blend in, look, and feel like your real teeth. They are the closest thing to a natural teeth because they are fused to the bone, and like teeth, provide strength and stability.
Three Parts of a Dental Implant
Dental implants have three parts. These three parts work together to create a seamless look and feel of natural teeth.
- The Implant or Base: This is the screw that fuses to your natural jaw bone. It is made of titanium similar to other medical devices because it doesn’t corrode in the body and integrates with tissue easily. This provides a foundation that is strong and safe.
- The Abutment or Connector: This small piece serves as the connection between the implant (which is in the jaw) and the crown or prosthetic (which looks like a tooth or full set of teeth).
- The Crown or Prosthetic: This is the part that looks like a tooth or teeth and is the top or functional portion of the entire implant assembly.
A Note on Metal Used in Dental Implants: At recent count, there are more than 60 FDA-approved manufacturers of dental implant materials that all vary in sophistication, quality, and reliability. However, almost all of them contain metal of some form. The majority of implants on the market today are manufactured as either commercially pure (CP) Titanium or Titanium alloys (a specific combination of metals, where titanium is the major metal). The alloy being the stronger of the two.
What Qualifies You For Implants
If you have one or more missing teeth, dental implants are typically the best way to restore form, function, and aesthetics to your mouth. Nearly everyone can be a candidate for implant therapy. A combination of modern methods currently employed at renew Institute in Louisville, KY allow even the unhealthiest of individuals to consider implant therapies.
Some patients will require preparation of the area of the proposed implant. Pre-placement procedures can involve…
- Grafting an implant site immediately after taking out a bad or failing tooth
- Adding bone (a graft) to a site where previous tooth loss has left a void
- Sinus procedures that promote bone growth and increase the height of available bone
- Reshaping of bone and gum tissues surrounding the implants
You should consider dental implants if you…
- Have one or more missing teeth
- Have been told you are going to lose all of your teeth
- Are unable or unwilling to wear dentures
- Are tired of spending money on crowns and other restorations that don’t last
- Want to be able to eat, speak, and smile normally
- Desire to stop thinking about your teeth and spend your time smiling with confidence
Benefits of Dental Implants
Dental implants are for adults of any age. Many people whose dental issues could be solved another way often choose full mouth dental implants because of the many benefits.
- Improved Appearance: Dental implants look very natural. They help to retain your natural face shape and smile and provide a permanent improvement to your appearance.
- Improved Speech: With other dental prosthetics, like dentures, speaking can be troublesome. Implants feel and act like normal teeth, and allow you to speak without worry.
- Improved Comfort: Because they are actually fused to your bone, they are as natural as actual teeth. Once placed, they are so comfortable you may actually forget they are there.
- Easier Eating: Dental implants secure your prosthetics in your mouth. Thus, they don’t slip or move so you can have peace of mind when sneezing, laughing, or eating.
- Improved Self-Esteem: Implants give you back your natural looking smile better than ever before. Everyday we see patients who suffer from smiling with their hands over their mouths. With dental implant prosthetics, they are able to smile freely and with confidence. You’ll find yourself holding your head a little higher knowing that your teeth look amazing.
- Improved Oral Health: Dental implants can conserve bone and jaw structures that are typically lost with removable denture prosthetics.
- Durability: While some other dental treatment options may need to be replaced every 5-10 years, dental implants are made to last many decades with very little maintenance.
- Convenience: Dental implants are convenient and require very little maintenance. No more putting your teeth in a glass, messy adhesives, or fear of your dentures falling out.
- High Success Rate: When placed properly by a prosthodontist or oral surgeon, dental implants have a success rate of 98%.
The reason our team of prosthodontists is able to reach such a high success rate is because we:
- place implants with the design requirements of your teeth in mind
- understand which implant to select (type and size) better than anyone
- will make surgical decisions that directly improve the aesthetic and functional outcome of your new smile
- will provide you with the transforming smile in the same appointment as the implant surgery (prosthodontics and surgery in the same sedation appointment)
- accomplish all aspects of your care in one location rather than coordinating with multiple providers in separate offices and locations, thus reducing time and cost.
- have in house laboratory support for expedited service
Different Types of Implants
There are multiple types of dental implants, but they typically fall into one of two categories, endosteal or subperiosteal:
- Endosteal implants are the most common. They are implants placed directly in the jawbone. The base is shaped like a root and made of titanium.
- Subperiosteal implants are placed under the gum, but still above the jawbone. This is generally only used if the patient doesn’t have enough natural jawbone to support the implant. Current bone grafting techniques have nearly eliminated the need for subperiosteal implants.
Depending on the strength of your jawbone, and your specific situation, there may be implant alternatives that could work well. These are the methods and techniques available at renew Institute in Louisville, KY and may be used instead of or in addition to the traditional dental implants. Common methods include:
- Immediate Load Dental Implants: Nearly all of our patients get immediate load dental implants. This provides the strongest temporary full arch prosthetics available.
- All-on-4: This is a popular and widely marketed protocol developed by Dr. Paulo Malo with Nobel Biocare, a dental implant manufacturer. Although 4 implants in some cases are sufficient, 5 or 6 implants is typically preferred and recommended to replace all of your teeth in an “all-on” prosthetic. This is ideal for people who have lost most or all of their teeth due to decay or gum disease or believe that they are going to do so. It typically allows you to place implants without bone grafting using special abutments with a set of temporary teeth placed the same day or very soon thereafter.
- Single Tooth Implants: This is great for those who have one or a few missing teeth. A single implant can fill in the gap and create a seamless look
- Multiple Implants: If you have several missing teeth creating larger gaps, but still don’t need a full mouth replacement, you can use multiple implants in only the areas with large gaps.
Implant Procedure: How Does It Work?
As with any dental procedure, the first step is to sit down with your prosthodontist at renew Institute in Louisville, KY for spectacular surgical and restorative expertise. We will discuss all your options to find the best course of action for your specific dental needs.
Here is what you can expect to happen when you get full mouth dental implants at renew Institute…
- Consult Appointment: This appointment is for getting to know us and gathering data (CT imaging, digital impressions, photographs and a detailed discussion) that will allow us to customize a treatment plan specifically for you. By the end of your first visit with us (about 1-2 hours) you will understand exactly what can and should be done and exactly how much it will cost.
- Surgical Appointment (Day 1): Your second appointment is what we like to call, “The BIG Launch.” While you are asleep (sedated) we will gain massive ground resulting in your new and improved circumstance. Teeth to be retained will be prepared and temporary restorations cemented, teeth requiring extraction will be removed and your implants placed, and all necessary records will be obtained.
- Try-In Appointment (Day 2): On the morning following your surgical appointment you will return for a try-in of the teeth our lab has completed over night. Here we all get to verify the fit and look.
- Delivery Appointment (Day 3): The following afternoon your new set of teeth will be attached to the implants in your jawbone with the use of screws that fix your teeth to the dental implants.
Does The Implant Surgery Hurt?
According to some, yes. According to our patients, no. Implant surgery can be done with a local anesthesia or full sedation, depending on the desires of the patient. However, we believe that the difference in the reports of pain from our patients is directly related to utilizing our spectacular sedation specialists. Deep sedation allows us to avoid the use of local anesthetic minimizing inflammation (swelling), avoiding unnecessary injury to the tissues from injections, and increasing blood flow to the surgical site by avoiding medications (epinephrine) in the anesthetic that causes the vessels to constrict. In addition to our kind and gentle surgical techniques, a relaxed napping patient prevents tension in the jaw muscles meaning they don’t get sore and records are more accurate. The vast majority of our patients report little or no pain.
How To Care For Implants After The Procedure
As with any surgery, you will have a post-surgery discussion with the prosthodontic surgeon on what to expect and how to take care of your new dental implant prosthestics at home.
- Bleeding: With the use of your tissues (extracted via a simple blood draw while you nap) as bandaids, bleeding is well controlled and not something to be concerned about. Even patients on blood thinners experience little to no bleeding after implant surgery.
- Swelling: Swelling is rare and uncommon for our patients. We will provide ice packs and suggest cold liquids just in case, but most patients do not experience notable swelling.
- Diet: With immediate loaded full arch implant therapies, you will need to be on a very soft diet for 8 weeks. This is not meant to be a liquid diet, but you’ll want to avoid crunching or tearing food. We typically tell patients, “If you can mash it with your fork, it’s safe to eat. Foods with small seeds or husks should be avoided for the first 2-3 weeks.
- Pain: Prescription strength Ibuprofen is recommended. Although nearly all of our patients receive a stronger prescription for pain management after implant surgery, very few report needing to fill it.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics are typically prescribed and are important to use as directed to prevent infection and promote proper healing.
- Oral Hygiene: You will receive specific instructions on how to care for your mouth after having implant surgery. The most common practices include; a gel to be massaged on the tissues with your finger, gentle brushing of the prosthetic, and you will be asked to avoid flossing the area in the weeks immediately following your procedure.
- Activity: The effects of sedation can last anywhere from 24-48 hours. If you were sedated, we recommend not driving the day after your procedure and keeping physical activity to a minimum. Otherwise you can return to normal activity as you feel up to it.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
Most implants themselves, once fused to the bone, last a lifetime. This is not to say that implants don’t ever fail, but it is uncommon especially when they are well taken care of. Regular home care, routine hygiene appointments and yearly check ups with your prosthodontist are the best way to keep your implants healthy. With full arch implant prosthestics, you can expect to have maintenance that requires replacing the teeth portion of the prosthetic at times that vary from patient to patient. Some patients are more high functioning than others, requiring the replacement of teeth at shorter intervals. At whatever rate you wear your teeth, the cost to replace the entire arch is very minimal in comparison to the initial investment (about the cost of 2 crowns).
What Type Of Doctor Performs This Surgery?
While some dentists perform dental implants in their office, many choose to refer their patients to prosthodontists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, or periodontists to have a dental implant procedure.
As prosthodontists, we understand best the art of placing the dental implants in just the right spot so it works the best and looks the best.
We Are Your Implant Specialists
Dental implants are one of the best ways to keep you looking and feeling your best. If you have failing or missing teeth, dental implants might be the perfect solution. They come in different sizes, heights, shapes, and types. With so many implants to choose from, it is critical that your surgeon understands when and why to recommend which implants for you. A prosthodontic surgeon not only understands all the aspects of the surgery, but also understands how all of these implants impact the function and look of your final outcome.
Whether you need replacement dental implants or are getting them for the first time, our team of prosthodontists in Louisville, KY will help you achieve the set of teeth you can be proud of. Call us today to schedule your consultation.