Dental Implants - the tooth replacement solution

600x400-imgs-implant3Let’s start from the beginning and with the basis: ALL teeth have two major parts, the “crown” which sticks up outside of the gums and the “Root” which hold the crown and is located in the jaw secured by the jaw bone. Dental implants work almost exactly like a natural tooth in that they have a “Crown” that is part of the chewing portion which you can see as the white part of your teeth and a “root” which is located in the jaw secured by the jaw bone like natural teeth.

Like tooth roots, dental implants are secured in the jawbone and are not visible once surgically placed. They don’t have nerves like teeth so they cannot feel any pain and they are made of bio-compatible titanium so they don’t get cavities like teeth do. Once they are placed in the site of the missing teeth, they actually “integrate” or bond with the bone and become part of the bone and so they do not drift or move like regular teeth. Once an implant is located in a particular place it will not shift or move over the years like normal teeth.

According to Dr. Arash Hakhamian, dental implants are made of the same material that have been widely used in all different parts of the body such as hip replacements, joint replacements, broken bones and much more but dental implants have the highest success rate of any implanted surgical device used in the body! They have been around for well over 25 years and are now considered one of the best ways to replace missing teeth and restore the patient’s ability to eat, chew, smile, and speak with comfort and confidence while looking completely natural.

Titanium’s special property of fusing to bone, called osseointegration (“osseo” – bone; “integration” – fusion or joining with), is the biological basis of dental implant success. That’s because when teeth are lost, the bone that supported those teeth is lost too. Placing dental implants stabilizes bone, preventing its loss. Along with replacing lost teeth, implants help maintain the jawbone’s shape and density. This means they also support the facial skeleton and, indirectly, the soft tissue structures — gum tissues, cheeks and lips.

LOSING A TEETH AND LOOKING OLDER BECAUSE OF BONE LOSS

600x400-imgs-implant2There are lots of reasons to replace missing teeth with dental implants and here are just a few. Losing one or more of your teeth starts a chain of events that can have dire physical and cosmetic consequences.  The most obvious result is a gap in your smile. Less obvious is the loss of chewing function and the inability to eat a complete diet that can result from tooth loss. While these are certainly serious issues, a potentially bigger problem lies hidden beneath the surface: bone loss.

When teeth are lost, the root that is located in the jawbone is lost as well and as a result the supporting and nearby bone in the jaw simply resorbs away. Imagine a tree or a plant that is taken out of the soil with the roots, the surrounding soil simply sinks in and there is a hole in the space where the roots were located. A similar loss of bone occurs in the jaw bone causing a “shrinking” of the bone and a whole array of problems in the region. While there may be no pain, there are many consequences to this bone loss. The adjacent teeth naturally lose some of the bone as well, the portion of the jaw with the “hole” or “bone loss” is now thinner and more susceptible to fracture, food traps occur where food can now get lodged in those areas and future tooth replacement may become impossible. Dental implants replace the missing root and act similarly to the natural root and fill in that gap while stimulating the surrounding bone to get stronger and maintain its integrity!

HORRORS OF REMOVABLE DENTURES WITHOUT IMPLANTS:

600x400-imgs-implant1We are know someone who has been wearing traditional removable dentures to replace their missing teeth. According to Dr. Arash Hakhamian, there are lots of reasons to avoid removable appliances and prevent the permanent damages they cause to the jaw bone and facial features. One of the most immediate problems with “false teeth” that are taken in and out of the mouth is that they cause speech impediments and force the patient to speak with a lisp or have to completely re-learn how to speak with the new structures in the mouth. Saying “Fifty six,” “seventy seven,” or even “I love you,” can become a difficult and embarrassing task at first. Furthermore, the plastic or acrylic material that covers the gums and surfaces of the roof of the mouth cover many of the taste buds causing a significant loss of the patient’s ability to taste normal food. To Dr. Arash and his patients this is unacceptable and old fashioned technology when dental implants are so easily available. Most importantly, the removable appliances are constantly moving and every time the patient swallows their teeth touch or every time they chew the dentures rub against the gums and underlying bone. This constant “banging” and “rubbing” of the plastic and metal dentures act like “sand-paper” and grind down the bone causing irreversible resorption and the classic “old person” appearance. The persons face begins to look shorter and older with more wrinkles and depression of the smile line. There is a loss in the vertical dimension of the face and the denture user may lose so much bone that eventually they won’t even be able to wear a denture and will have to eat only with their gums.

ARE MISSING TEETH CAUSING YOU TO MISS OUT ON LIFE?

Missing teeth and loose dentures make too many people sit on the sidelines and let life pass them by.  However, today’s modern treatment plans can replace everything from a single missing tooth to a completely missing arch.  Ask your dentist or dental specialist about the different dental implant options that are available to you.  Don’t let another day go by without taking this important first step to restoring your confidence and your smile!

STOP THE BONE LOSS:

Your jawbone needs the chewing action of the teeth to stimulate it and keep it strong.  Otherwise it will begin to disappear (atrophy) in the same manner that the unused muscles beneath a cast supporting a broken bone get smaller. Without the support of your teeth and facial bones, your face will begin to look prematurely aged. The good news is that tooth replacement with dental implants offers a solution to help prevent bone loss.

Tooth replacement options

Traditional treatment options for tooth replacement, Crown & Bridge and full or partial dentures, address the short-term cosmetic problem of missing teeth, but do nothing to stop bone loss. Crown & Bridge also requires that two or more healthy teeth be ground down to serve as abutments (posts) for a bridge, leaving them at a much greater risk for cavities and endodontic failure. If the original abutment teeth fail, more healthy teeth must be sacrificed to serve as posts, while you continue to lose bone beneath the bridge.

With implants, however, the healthy teeth are left alone.  Dental implants, like natural teeth, also transmit chewing forces to the jawbone, which reduces bone loss. This is why many leading dental organizations now recognize dental implants as the standard of care for tooth replacement.

Who is a candidate?

Dental implants can be placed in most adults who are in good to moderate health. They are not typically placed in adolescents until they have reached their full expected physical maturity. Certain uncontrolled medical conditions and smoking may decrease the effectiveness of implant treatment and bone grafting so please be sure to speak to Dr. Arash and review your medical history to make sure that you are a good candidate for dental implants. Every patient is different and patient results may vary based on your diet and you oral hygiene. Dr. Arash is a trained clinician and can determine the best treatment plan for you.

Dental implants let you eat the foods you love.
Dental Implants are the only proven way to prevent bone loss after the loss of natural teeth.
Research shows that implant-supported prostheses increase patient comfort.
70% of the U.S. population is missing at least one tooth.
Many social functions involve food and eating.

Single Tooth Replacement

An implant may be used to replace almost any missing tooth, provided there is adequate bone at the site. If not, modern procedures can usually be performed to regenerate enough bone to safely place an implant.

The implant is placed in the bone below the gum tissue. A temporary abutment may be placed on the implant until the healing phase is complete. A cosmetic temporary crown can often be made to fill the missing space.

After healing, the abutment is attached to the implant. It will hold a custom-made crown that the dental laboratory will mold and match to your existing teeth.

In the final step, the custom crown is cemented onto the abutment. The tooth has been replaced without disturbing the healthy teeth next to it and bone loss has been eliminated.

Multiple tooth replacement

Implants can also be used to replace several teeth, eliminating the need to grind down healthy adjacent teeth to serve as posts for traditional Crown & Bridge therapy.

The implants are placed in the bone below the gum tissue. Like single tooth replacement, temporary abutments may be placed on the implants until the healing phase is complete.

After healing, the abutments are attached to the implants. They will hold a custom-made bridge that the dental laboratory will mold and match to your existing teeth.

In the final step, the custom bridge is cemented onto the abutments. The teeth have been replaced without disturbing the healthy teeth next to them, and bone loss has been halted.

Implant-supported prosthesis (removable)
If all your lower teeth are missing, five implants may be used to support a lower denture.

If all your upper teeth are missing, six or more implants may be used to support an upper denture.

The implants are positioned just below the gum tissue and given time to fuse with the bone. Temporary abutments may be placed on the implants until the healing phase is complete. Your existing denture can be modified so that it may be worn without disturbing the implants during the healing process.

You will be fitted for a custom-made bar that attaches to the implants to support a new denture.  Your existing denture may be modified to be worn during this period.

The new denture will have attachments which snap or clip it into place. Your new teeth are firmly supported by the jaw, stimulating it and halting bone loss. You will be able to remove the denture easily for cleaning.

Implant-supported prosthesis (Fixed)

If all your lower or upper teeth are missing, a permanent bridge may be attached directly to the implants.  The number of implants is determined by the specific requirements of each case.

The implants are positioned just below the gum tissue and given time to fuse with the bone. Temporary abutments may be placed on the implants until the healing phase is complete. Your existing denture may be modified so that it can be worn without disturbing the implants during the healing process.

You will be fitted for a custom bridge that screws directly into the implants.  The screw holes will be covered after insertion.

Your new teeth are firmly supported by the jaw, stimulating it and halting bone loss. Your dentist will be able to remove the prosthesis when necessary for cleaning and maintenance.

Implant-stabilized denture

If all your lower teeth are missing, two to four implants may be used to stabilize a lower denture.

The implants are positioned just below the gum tissue and given time to fuse with the bone. Temporary abutments may be placed on the implants until the healing phase is complete. Your existing denture may be modified so that it can be worn without disturbing the implants during the healing process.

Dental implants can provide stability to your existing loose denture.
After healing, ball-top posts are attached to the implants. Your old denture may be modified to hold clips that snap over the ball-tops, or a new denture with clips will be made.

The denture is snapped into place, where it is retained by the implants and supported by the soft tissue. You simply snap the denture out each night for cleaning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is the implant placement painful?
A: No, it is usually done under local anesthesia. Most procedures can be done in your dentist’s office.

Q: How much pain will I feel after implant placement?
A: The discomfort you may feel should be minor. Dr. Arash may prescribe medication to alleviate any pain you may have.

Q: How long does it take to place dental implants?
A: Usually 30-60 minutes, depending on the location and the number of implants. You can chose to be asleep during the entire procedure yet this is often not necessary as placing an implant is often easier than pulling a tooth or doing a filling.

Q: What can I eat after having an implant placed?
A: Dr. Arash will outline a diet for the next few days including some soft foods with a list of recommendations.

Q: How long does placement, healing and construction of the replacement teeth take?
A: The entire process usually takes from 3 to 9 months, depending on your treatment plan.

Q: How do I care for my implant?
A: Home care for your implants consists of brushing and flossing. Regular dental visits are required for long-term health and success.

Q: How long does an implant last?
A: If your body accepts the implant, it should last many years if cared for properly. Many implants have been in place for more than 40 years.

Q: If my body rejects an implant, what happens?
A: The implant is removed and the site is allowed to heal.  Another implant can usually be placed after healing.

Q: Are dental implants covered by insurance?
A: Like most elective procedures, dental implants are not covered by most dental insurance plans. However, Dr. Arash and his helpful dental secretaries will check your insurance and give you a full estimate of all your expected costs before the start of any procedure.