Since teeth and the underlying supporting bone work together to create the fullness and contour in a person's face, patients who have lost all of their teeth often will have a sunken, older appearance. Implants are an option for replacement of a missing tooth or teeth and often can be made more aesthetic than conventional techniques such as bridges or partial dentures. Implants can support dentures and prevent the bone loss and facial aging that unsupported dentures can cause. And, implants can simply replace full dentures for a natural appearance and greater comfort. A prosthetic fixture (usually made of titanium) is placed into the bone beneath the gum tissue. The implant serves as a "virtual root" onto which a tooth or teeth can be affixed.

After placement, the implant site is allowed to heal for four to six months. Placement of the implant requires the use of a local anesthetic (novocaine) and healing is usually quick with minimal discomfort. After healing, the top portion of the implant is exposed for placement of the final restoration. This part of the procedure is performed in Dr. Silverman’s office, and then restored cosmetically (crown placement) by Dr. Silverman. Although they take longer to place and can be more costly than other options, implants are considered a permanent restoration and have a very natural appearance. Research is currently being conducted on a single-visit, one-step implant that requires little or no healing time. Implants are considered a state-of-the-art option for tooth replacement.

Tooth Loss can have a far-reaching effect on your dental health and personal appearance. When you lose one or more teeth, your remaining teeth can drift out of position. This can lead to a change in the bite, the loss of additional teeth, decay, and gum disease.

Dental Implants can be an effective method to replace one tooth or several teeth. Each implant consists of a metal anchor that is inserted into the jawbone, and a protruding post, which is outfitted with an artificial tooth. Implants can also support a bridge, replace a partial denture or secure a fixed denture. The process requires surgery and may take up to a year to complete.

The Procedure

Several steps are usually necessary to place an implant. Depending on the type of implant, the steps may vary. The placement of a single-tooth endosteal implant is illustrated below:

  1. In the first procedure under anesthesia, a metal anchor, or artificial root, is placed into the jawbone. Bone grows around the anchor. This takes about three to six months.
  2. Next, a "healing cap" is placed when the implant is uncovered.
  3. Then, the healing cap is removed and a metal post, or abutment, may be attached to the anchor.
  4. When your gums and jawbone have healed, an artificial tooth is constructed, then screwed or cemented to the post. Fitting your new tooth properly may take several appointments

Brush and floss your implant at least twice daily, as you would your natural teeth. Be sure to brush the back of the abutments and floss around the front, back, and sides. Avoid chewing on hard objects or extremely sticky food. Proper dental care will keep your dental implants and your mouth healthy.

Be sure to follow the special home care instructions provided by your dental professional.

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