WHAT ARE DENTAL IMPLANTS
Dental implants are the most exciting and valuable tooth replacement option we have in dentistry today. Implants can be used in a wide variety of ways to replace one or more missing teeth.
Dental Implants attach to the jawbone through a process called osseointegration. The titanium implant body, which mimics the shape of a tooth root, anchors into the upper or lower jawbone in the precise position your dentist chooses for optimum function. During the healing process, the jawbone grows into the ridges of the implant body and locks it into place. This creates a secure connection to the jawbone.
This firm attachment of the implant to the jawbone allows us to use it as an anchor for many different types of tooth replacements, including single tooth crowns, bridges, partials and full dentures. Because the implant body is actually inside the jawbone, the restorations we create emerge from the gums, giving the most natural and best cosmetic appearance to the tooth replacement. Implants function as closely to natural teeth as possible because their support comes only from the jawbone, not from neighboring teeth. Dental implants allow you to chew well.
Whether you are missing one tooth or all of your teeth, dental implants are the best option to replace them.
SINGLE TOOTH DENTAL IMPLANTS
A dental implant is, without question, the best possible replacement of a single missing tooth. Why is it the best? Because it is the closest we can come to a natural tooth.
A dental implant replacing a missing tooth consists of three parts
- The implant body – The implant body is the tooth root replacement. It anchors into the jawbone, allowing what is built onto it to emerge out of the gums naturally.
- The abutment – Abutments come in many forms. The abutment’s job is to connect the tooth-shaped crown above the gums to the implant body below the gums. The abutment connects to the implant body with a screw.
- The implant crown – Similar to a crown on a natural tooth, an implant crown completely covers the abutment and appears to emerge from the gums. The crown attaches to the abutment only and NOT to any neighboring teeth.
DENTAL IMPLANT BRIDGE
A common misunderstanding of dental implants is the assumption that you must have one dental implant per tooth replacement. This is false, and that is good news! If you are missing multiple teeth in a row (typically three to four teeth), you have the option of replacing them with a dental implant bridge.
A dental implant bridge is similar to a tooth-supported bridge in a few ways.
- Both types of bridges include dental restorations where the new “teeth” are fused together. This prevents the ability to floss normally. Some extra oral hygiene tools are necessary.
- Both include a “pontic”, which is a fake tooth that is not attached to the jawbone in any way (via either a tooth or a dental implant). The pontic seems to rest on top of the gums.
A dental implant bridge differs from a natural tooth bridge in several ways.
FIXED FULL MOUTH DENTAL IMPLANTS
Fixed full mouth dental implants give you a way to replace all of your missing teeth without having to wear something removable. Many people do not want a denture that requires removal every night, no matter how well it fits. The opposite of removable, in dentistry, is “fixed”. A fixed dental restoration is not removable by the patient.
A normal, healthy adult mouth typically contains 28 teeth (assuming the four wisdom teeth have already been removed). Replacing these with dental implants does not have to utilize 28 dental implants. We commonly use a combination of single tooth dental implants and dental implant bridges or something called All-on-Four to replace all the teeth in this manner.
Combination of Single Tooth and Dental Implant Bridges
The advantage of doing a combination of single tooth implants and implant bridges is that the restorations emerge directly from yournatural gums. It also allows you to have separation between some of the teeth for a natural tooth appearance and access for flossing. This option uses a greater number of dental implants and requires a larger quantity of healthy jawbone.
IMPLANT OVER DENTURE
Millions of Americans have no teeth at all. Many of these patients wear dentures to replace their missing teeth, and many are unhappy with the way the dentures fit and function.
Dental implants have revolutionized traditional dentures by providing firm anchors for the denture to attach. We stabilize dentures using a minimum of two dental implants in the jawbone. The connection between the implant and the denture is through a specialty abutment called a “locator”. The locator has a corresponding receiver on the inner surface of the denture. This allows the denture to snap firmly into place and stay securely in place throughout any normal function.
An implant overdenture has many advantages over a traditional denture, including:
No embarrassing looseness or falling out when eating or speaking – Because the denture is firmly attached to the dental implants, which are anchored in bone, the denture does not move around or dislodge during normal function.
BONE GRAFTING FOR DENTAL IMPLANTS
One of the requirements for using a dental implant to replace a missing tooth is the presence of enough healthy jawbone. When you lose a tooth, the jawbone in that area begins to shrink because it no longer has a tooth to support. In some cases, the bone shrinks to a width and height that cannot support a dental implant. This does not prevent you from replacing your missing tooth with an implant. It simply requires some preparation and building up of the shrunken bone.
The purpose of a bone graft is to improve the missing tooth site so that you can have an implant restoration. It transforms an area of bone that was unacceptable into a healthy foundation for the dental implant.
There are many different types of bone grafting, and they all serve the same purpose: to improve the long-term success of your dental implant.
Some bone grafts, called socket preservation grafts, take place at the time of the tooth extraction to help conserve the bone width and height and prevent shrinkage. As the name implies, they preserve the socket. Other grafts, called ridge augmentation, work to build up a ridge that has already shrunk.
SINUS LIFT FOR DENTAL IMPLANTS
The maxillary sinus cavities are air-filled spaces in the head, just above your upper back teeth and behind your cheekbones. In many people, the roots of the upper teeth extend up into the sinus cavities. Because the upper jawbone’s purpose is to hold teeth, when teeth are missing, the bone shrinks, allowing the sinus cavity to get larger.
This is a problem when you want to replace that missing tooth with a dental implant. Dental implants require a minimum length for strength and stability. If there is not enough jawbone to support the correct length of implant, we perform a procedure called a sinus lift.
The sinus cavity is lined with a very thin membrane that separates the jawbone from the sinus cavity and its resident bacteria. During a sinus lift, your dentist prepares the jawbone site for the dental implant and then “lifts” the sinus membrane to place bone grafting material and the implant.
All ON FOUR IMPLANTS
Implant Dentist San Antonio
At Dominion Dental Spa, we are committed to offering our patients a wide variety of treatment options. We know that some patients have experienced extensive dental disease and tooth loss. We believe this should not prevent you from having a stable, beautiful smile that functions almost as well as natural teeth. Our solution for many of these cases is all-on-four.
What is All-on-Four?
All-on-four is a replacement of an entire dental arch of teeth that is supported by four implants in the jawbone. All-on-four functions well on both the upper jaw and the lower jaw. It is classified as a “fixed-hybrid” prosthesis, which means it is somewhere between an attached bridge and a removable denture. It is like a bridge in that it attaches to the dental implants; it is not removable. It is like a denture in that it replaces all of the teeth in the arch.
THE COST OF DENTAL IMPLANTS
Dental implants are, by far, the best tooth replacement option. The biggest reason not everyone opts for implants is their cost. We are proud to offer our patients in San Antonio, Texas, affordable dental implants.
The cost of dental implants has a wide range. In general, at Pearl Dentistry, we can restore a single missing tooth with a dental implant, abutment, and crown for $2,499-2,999. A full mouth dental implant restoration costs from $15,000 to $18,000.
The Value of Dental Implants
The cost of dental implants is only one factor to consider when looking into implant restoration of missing teeth. Another important factor is the value of dental implants. When thinking of the value of something, we should ask ourselves, is the outcome or product worth the cost?
In the case of dental implants, the value far exceeds the cost!
Dental implants are the most predictable and successful dental restoration available today. The anchorage into the jawbone prevents damage to neighboring teeth, and the implants cannot get cavities. Implants allow you to chew as well as natural teeth do so you can continue to digest food in a healthy manner.
Dental implants are the most attractive and natural way to replace missing teeth. Unlike other things you can invest several thousand dollars in, like a fancy television or a new car, dental implants will not depreciate in value over time. In twenty years, you will still be reaping the benefits of the investment you made in your smile with dental implants.