A dental implant is a surgical component that interfaces with the bone of the upper or lower jaw to support a dental prosthesis such as a crown, bridge, denture, etc.
Implants provide a strong foundation for fixed or removable teeth that are made to match your natural teeth. The replaced teeth are made of titanium which can easily fuse with bone through a biologic process called osseointegration.
The prerequisites to long term success of dental implants are healthy bone and gums. Pre-prosthetic procedures are sometimes required to recreate ideal bone and gums to enable implant placement. Planning for dental implants focuses on the general health condition of the patient, the condition of the mucous membranes, the shape, size, and position of the jaw bones and the condition of the adjacent and opposing teeth. There are certain health conditions that may not be an ideal case for implants. Those with poor oral hygiene, heavy smokers, diabetics etc. could be at greater risk for a variant of gum diseases that can affect implants, increasing the chance of long-term failures.
However, the long-term success of implants is determined, in part, also by the forces they have to support. As implants have no periodontal ligament, there is no sensation of pressure when biting. So the forces created are higher. To offset this, the location of implants must distribute forces evenly across the prosthetic they support. Concentrated forces can result in fracture of the implant components, or loss of bone adjacent to the implant. The ultimate location of implants is therefore extremely important. Implants placed in thicker, stronger bone like that found in the front part of the bottom jaw have higher success rates than implants placed in lower density bone, such as the back part of the upper jaw. People who grind their teeth may need to wear a night guard to reduce the force on implants.
Dental Implant Treatment / Procedure
At Bristol Dental Clinic, our implant dentists will carefully evaluate your case, educate you on the success rate, make a treatment plan and estimate the cost before placing the implant. Most implant placements have five basic steps:
- Soft tissue reflection: An incision is made over the crest of bone, splitting the edges of tissue, referred to as a flap, and pushed back to expose the bone. Flapless surgery is an alternate technique, where a small punch of tissue as small as the diameter of the implant is removed for implant placement rather than raising flaps.
- Drilling at high speed: After reflecting the soft tissue and using a surgical guide or stent, pilot holes are placed with precision drills at highly regulated speed.
- Drilling at low speed: The pilot hole is expanded by using progressively wider drills typically between three and seven successive drilling steps, depending on implant width and length. Care is taken not to damage the bone cells by overheating. A cooling saline spray keeps the temperature low.
- Placement of the implant: The implant screw is placed by screwing into place at a precise torque so as not to overload the surrounding bone.
- Tissue adaptation: The gum is adapted around the entire implant to provide a thick band of healthy tissue around the healing abutment.
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