Dental Implants

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are small titanium screws that are surgically placed into the jawbone. These metal anchors act as tooth root substitutes. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. 

This implant-bone bond prevents bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing. For patients missing teeth, this is critically important for long term function.

After initial healing is complete, a separate, small post (called the final abutment) is then attached to the implant. These posts (abutments) provide stable anchors for the artificial replacement teeth (final crown). Please view the animation on the right to visualize these separate parts.

Dental Implants Presentation

To provide you with a better understanding of dental implants, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to dental implants are discussed.

The Surgical Procedure

For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves one surgical procedure and one follow up procedure. Generally, these are very easily tolerated by the patient. For the first three to six months following surgery, the implant is beneath the gums, gradually bonding with the jawbone (osseointegration). You should be able to wear temporary dentures and eat a soft diet during this time. You will also be asked to have an additional “check-up” visit to monitor the healing processes.

After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. Dr. Dietrich will uncover the implants and attach small posts (final abutments) that protrude through the gums and will act as anchors for the artificial teeth. When the artificial teeth are placed, these posts will not be seen. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.

While there are several steps from start to finish, Dr. Dietrich  is frequently able to accomplish multiple steps at each appointment. Please view the presentation on the left and click on your specific problem.

Specific Scenarios & Surgical Advances

Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Dr. Dietrich is able to place immediate, single stage implants. In these cases, a damaged tooth is removed, an implant & abutment are placed, and a temporary crown is placed in a single visit.

Dental Implant placement is a team effort between an oral & maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. While Dr. Dietrich performs the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary, the restorative dentist (your dentist) fits and makes the permanent prosthesis. Your dentist will also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process. Please view the above presentation and click on your specific problem.

How many teeth can be replaced? What Types Of Prosthesis Are Available?

A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth – each prosthetic tooth attaches to its own implant. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) can replace two or more teeth and may require only two or three implants. A complete dental prosthesis (fixed bridge) replaces all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. The number of implants varies depending upon which type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended. A removable prosthesis (over denture) attaches to a bar or ball in socket attachments, whereas a fixed prosthesis is permanent and removable only by the dentist.

Why Select Dental Implants Over More Traditional Types Of Restorations?

There are several reasons: Why sacrifice the structure of surrounding good teeth to bridge a space? In addition, removing a denture or a “partial” at night may be inconvenient, not to mention that dentures that slip can be uncomfortable and rather embarrassing.

Are You A Candidate For Implants?

If you are considering implants, your mouth must be examined thoroughly and your medical and dental history reviewed. While there are exceptions, most patients are able to receive dental implants. If your mouth is not appropriate for implants, Dr. Dietrich will discuss options to optimize your condition.

What Type Of Anesthesia Is Used?

The majority of dental implants and bone grafting procedures can be performed in the office under local anesthesia, with or without office based general anesthesia. Dr. Dietrich performs implant surgery in the office operating suite, thus optimizing the level of sterility. Inpatient hospital implant surgery is for patients who have special medical or anesthetic needs or for those who need extensive bone grafting from the jaw, hip or tibia. Please see the Anesthesia tab for a further description of these options.

Do Implants Need Special Care?

Once the implants are in place, they will serve you well for many years if you take care of them and keep your mouth healthy. This means taking the time for good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) and keeping regular appointments with your dental specialists.