Dental Implants

DENTAL IMPLANTS are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth which look, feel and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved. Patients with dental implants can smile with confidence. The video below offers an overview of dental implants, and we encourage you to contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation.

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.

Dental Implant 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.

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What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are tiny titanium posts which are surgically inserted into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors act as tooth root substitutes. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Small posts are then attached to the implant, which protrude through the gums. These posts provide stable anchors for artificial replacement teeth.

Implants also help preserve facial structure and contours, preventing bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.

Why dental implants?

Once you learn about dental implants, you realize there is a way to dramatically improve your quality of life. When you lose teeth – whether it’s a new situation or something you have lived with for years – chances are you never become fully accustomed to losing such a vital part of yourself.

Who places the implant?

Implants are a team effort between an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and a Restorative Dentist. While Dr. Molen performs the actual implant surgery, your dentist fits and makes the permanent teeth. Your dentist will also make any temporary teeth or dentures needed during the healing process.

The Surgical Procedure

For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures. First, implants are placed within your jawbone. For the first three to six months following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums gradually bonding with the jawbone. You should be able to wear temporary dentures and eat a soft diet during this time. At the same time, your dentist is forming new replacement teeth. In some cases, the implant can be left protruding through the gums and temporary crowns can be placed immediately.

After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. Dr. Molen will uncover the implants and attach small posts, which will act as anchors for artificial teeth. These posts protrude through the gums. When the crowns or dentures are placed, these posts will not be seen. The entire procedure usually takes six to eight months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.

How are teeth replaced?

A single crown is used to replace one missing tooth. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) can replace two or more teeth and may require only two or three implants. A complete prosthesis can be made to replace all of 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, such as an over denture, can be firmly connected to implant supported attachments so that it is solidly in place where you want it, yet removable for cleaning. A fixed prosthesis is permanent and removable only by the dentist.

Dr. Molen performs in-office implant surgery in a hospital-style 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.

Why are implants better than bridges and dentures?

There are several reasons: Bridges may sacrifice the structure of good teeth surrounding those that are missing. The natural teeth they are attached to have a limited life span and the bridge will likely need to be replaced in the future, whereas a successful implant lasts forever. Implant supported teeth and dentures have much stronger chewing forces than traditional dentures, greatly improving the quality of your diet and lifestyle, not to mention that loose dentures can be uncomfortable and rather embarrassing.

Surgical Advances

Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Dr. Molen is able to place single stage implants. These implants do not require a second procedure to uncover them, but do require healing time before permanent restorations are placed. There are even situations where the implants can be placed at the same time as a tooth extraction - further minimizing the number of surgical procedures. Advances in implant technology have even made it possible, in select cases, to extract teeth and place implants with crowns at one visit. This procedure, called “immediate loading,” greatly simplifies the surgical process.

Are you a candidate for implants?

There are very few situations where implants cannot be placed. Sometimes, preparatory surgery must be performed to optimize your outcome. If you are considering implants, your mouth and supporting bone must be examined thoroughly and your medical and dental history reviewed. If your situation is not ideal for implants, ways of improving your outcome, such as bone grafting, may be recommended.

What type of anesthesia is used?

The majority of dental implants and bone grafts can be performed in the office with or without I.V. sedation or general anesthesia.

Do Implants need special care?

Once the implants have healed to the jawbone, they will serve you well for the rest of your life 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 dentist and surgeon.