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Dental implants provide a number of advantages as a tooth replacement system, like durability and imperviousness to decay or gum disease. Bone naturally grows and attaches to the titanium posts, strengthening the attachment over time, and they don’t cause damage to adjacent teeth. Best of all, an implant and its crown’s life-like appearance can rejuvenate a person’s smile, transforming their appearance and self-image.
But it takes time to complete treatment with dental implants — months of healing and sufficient bone growth to anchor the implant before affixing the permanent crown. If the natural tooth requires extraction first, this may add another step — and more healing time — to the process.
In recent years, though, patients who meet certain criteria are able to shorten the time after a tooth extraction with “immediate” implants. In this case, rather than waiting for the socket to heal following a tooth extraction, the implant is placed directly into the socket immediately after the extraction. Immediate implants thus combine tooth extraction and implantation into one procedure.
For the best results, the extraction must be done very carefully to avoid as little damage as possible to surrounding tissue and bone. It’s also important for the implant to be completely immobilized within the bone with no movement at all. It will stabilize further as bone growth (or ossification) occurs over time.
It’s also possible to attach a provisional crown to the immediate implant for aesthetic purposes. This isn’t the permanent crown that will be affixed after bone growth around the implant; for that reason it’s made in such a way that it doesn’t contact its counterpart tooth in the opposing jaw. Although the implant is completely immobilized mechanically, it’s still not ready for the full forces of normal biting and chewing. After two to three months, the implant should be fully integrated with the surrounding bone and ready for the permanent crown.
Immediate implants are best for the more visible front teeth that encounter less biting force than back teeth. The technique not only reduces healing time, but enables patients to gain an “immediate” aesthetic benefit — and something worth smiling about.
If you would like more information on immediate implants or other dental implant options, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Immediate Implants.”
If you follow the hit TV reality show Amazing Race, you know that professional-hockey-playing brothers Bates and Anthony Battaglia won the $1 million prize in the latest globe-spanning competition. You may also have witnessed Anthony removing his false front teeth from time to time — like when he had to dive for pearls in Bora Bora. Since he plans to resume his sports career, Anthony wears a partial denture to fill the gap in his classic “hockey mouth.” He has said that when he finally hangs up his skates, he will use some of his Amazing Race prize money to get new, permanent teeth. When it’s time to get that new smile, Anthony, like many people, will have to choose between two good options for permanent tooth replacement.
The preferred option for most people is dental implants. In this system, tiny titanium posts substitute for the root part of your missing tooth (or teeth). These are placed beneath your gum line in a minor surgical procedure we perform right here at the dental office. The amazing thing about dental implants is that they actually fuse to your jawbone, allowing your replacement teeth to last a lifetime.
The titanium implant itself is not visible in the mouth; the part of an implant tooth that you see is the lifelike crown. Virtually indistinguishable from your natural teeth, the crown is attached to the implant above the gum line. Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth, or even all your teeth. You don’t necessarily need one implant for every tooth because implants can support bridgework or even a complete set of prosthetic teeth.
The second-best option is a natural-tooth fixed bridge. In this system, we use healthy natural teeth on either side of the empty space left by a missing tooth (or teeth) as supports for one or more of the prosthetic teeth that will fill the gap. The downside is that in order to turn these healthy teeth into supports (which are referred to in dentistry as “abutments”), we need to remove some enamel and then cap them. This procedure can leave those teeth more prone to decay than they were before. But with regular dental exams and good oral hygiene on your part, bridgework can last many years.
Which system is right for you? That’s a question we would be happy to help you determine… even if you haven’t won a large jackpot or gone pearl diving in Bora Bora. If you’ve been looking forward to the day when you can have permanent replacement teeth, why wait? Contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. We will help you find your ideal solution to the problem of missing teeth! For more information, please see the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Dental Implants vs. Bridgework” and “Dental Implants: Your Third Set of Teeth.”
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