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 and can smile with confidence, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved.
What are Dental Implants?
The implants themselves are titanium cylinders which are inserted into the jawbone where teeth are missing and act as tooth root substitutes. They are surgically placed into the jawbone. 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, preventing the bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.
Over a period of time, the jawbone associated with missing teeth atrophies or shrinks. This often leaves a condition in which there is poor quality and quantity of bone suitable for placement of dental implants. In these situations, most patients are not candidates for placement of dental implants, unless grafting is performed.
We now have the ability to grow bone where needed. This not only gives us the opportunity to place implants of proper length and width, it also gives us a chance to restore functionality and esthetic appearance. The bone graft procedures are referred to as:
In severe cases the ridge has been reabsorbed and a bone graft is placed to increase the ridge height and/or width.
Sinus lift procedure
This procedure involves elevating the sinus membrane and placing the bone graft onto the sinus floor, allowing implants to be placed in the back part of the upper jaw.
The inferior alveolar nerve, which gives feeling to the lower lip and chin, may need to be moved in order to make room for placement of dental implants to the lower jaw.
These procedures may be performed separately or together, depending upon the patient's condition. There are several areas of the body, which are suitable for attaining bone grafts. In the maxillofacial region, bone grafts can be taken from inside the mouth, in the area of the chin or third molar region or in the upper jaw behind the last tooth. In more extensive situations, a greater quantity of bone can be attained from the hip or the outer aspect of the tibia at the knee.
Most of these surgeries are performed in the out-office surgical suite under IV sedation or general anesthesia.
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth. When they align properly, and gingival tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not generally happen. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum, and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone.
These poorly positioned impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the tooth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain and infection. Local periodontal disease may affect the second molar tooth. The pressure from the erupting wisdom tooth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth.
The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom tooth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted tooth or teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risks involved with the procedure.