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The easiest way to describe a dental implant is to compare it to a natural tooth. A natural tooth consists of a root and a crown. The part of the tooth you see and eat with is called the crown. Beneath the crown is the root. The root of the tooth anchors it to the jawbone. When you lose a tooth, you lose both the root and the crown. To replace a tooth, we first have to replace the root. A dental implant is essentially a new root. This specialized titanium screw is fitted into a socket that we create in your jaw, replacing the lost root of your natural tooth.
Once an implant has been placed in the jaw, the bone around the implant will fuse, or integrate, to the implant. The process of integration typically takes from 2 to 4 months depending upon the quantity and quality of the jawbone. Once the implant has integrated (fused) to the jaw bone, a support post, called a final abutment, will be placed into the implant itself. The abutment actually protrudes up through the gum tissue and serves as a post to which a new crown can be cemented. If all your teeth are missing, a variety of treatment options are available to support and greatly increase the stability, strength, and retention of your dentures.
After an initial consultation and appraisal of your mouth with either Dr. Piché or Dr. Ebenal, a preliminary estimate will be given depending on your choice of treatment. After our initial consult, if implants are to be used in the rehabilitation of your mouth, a consultation with the surgeon will be made. This will allow you the opportunity to discuss any concerns or question any aspect of implant placement with the surgeon. Once a tentative treatment plan is established we are in a position to take the restorative records needed to begin your work.
Following the restorative records, a written estimate will be provided and we will be in a position to send estimates and documentation to your dental insurance carrier.
The number of implants needed and complexities of the case will dictate the extent of the records required but could include: photographs, dental models, waxing of models, arch registrations and bite records, radiographs of supporting bone and joints, assessing of muscle biomechanics and function, constructing pre-surgical treatment appliances and surgical guides. Drs. Piché and Ebenal will supply the surgeon with a guide to the numbers and desired position of implants that will support the finished appliance. Once the final tooth position is at a wax try-in stage, you may be required to sign a “cosmetic approval” to finish the case, as positional changes are not easily made once the laboratory work is done.
The success of dental implants depends upon bone forming to the implant so closely that it appears to join at a microscopic level. Once this integration has occurred, there should be no discomfort to tapping or pressure on the implant and there should be no movement in the abutments attached to the implant. If it becomes apparent that a patient is clenching or grinding during sleep, it may be necessary to wear a protective appliance to prevent damage.
Once the implants have finished healing, the prosthetic phase of treatment is ready to begin. The necessary impressions will be taken and the proper components ordered. Depending on the type of restoration planned (i.e. single tooth, overdenture), diagnostic wax-ups may be constructed and tried in your mouth before the final prosthesis is made. If done properly, you will have a very natural, beautiful result.
You will be thoroughly instructed in proper daily maintenance of your implants. This maintenance is no more complicated than cleaning of natural teeth but may require special aids or devices. Depending upon your level of dexterity, difficulty of access and your intra-oral physiology, a program will be designed for you. Proper follow-up care and maintenance is important to the longevity of your implants. Routine recall visits for the first year of an implant supported prosthesis are done at no additional charge to the patient. Should any soft tissue problems occur around implants they should be treated to prevent damage to the supporting bone.