Dental Implants In-Depth Overview
Allentown and Hellertown, PA
As surgical specialists, we here at Lehigh Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery are uniquely qualified in a wide-variety of dental implant restorations and procedures. If you are missing one tooth, multiple teeth, or even an entire arch, an implant-supported restoration may be the ideal solution! Dental implants have revolutionized restorative dentistry thanks to their many benefits.
What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant, which is usually made of titanium, is a small screw that serves as the root element of a prosthesis. Most implant screws are also attached to a metal or ceramic support structure, known as an abutment. The abutment helps link the top of the implant screw to your restoration.
Dental implants are highly successful largely thanks to a process known as osseointegration. Osseointegration occurs when the titanium screw fuses to the underlying jawbone, allowing the implant to mimic the function of a natural root. This process takes anywhere from six months to over a year, depending on the number of implants.
The number of implants you receive is dictated by the number of missing teeth that need to be replaced. Thanks to improvements in technologies, techniques, and restorative materials, implants can be used to support a dental crown, fixed bridge, or full-arch restoration. We will be able to determine which restoration is right for you during your initial consultation.
Single Tooth Implant
As you can probably guess, a single tooth implant solution only involves one implant. The implant screw is used to support a dental crown, typically made from porcelain or zirconia. Both porcelain and zirconia possess the same light-reflective properties as natural enamel, helping your new crown blend in seamlessly with the rest of your smile.
The single tooth implant procedure is generally broken up into several appointments. During your first visit, we place the implant underneath the gum tissue and into the jawbone. Over the next several months, you will undergo a brief healing process while the implant fuses to your bone. We must wait for osseointegration to complete before moving forward with your next appointment.
During your second visit, we will place the abutment, and take an impression of the area. Our laboratory technicians will use this impression to fabricate your final crown. The fabrication process typically takes a few weeks to complete. In the meantime, we may give you a temporary restoration to protect your implant.
During your final visit, we will remove the temporary and check the margins of your final crown. A precisely-fit crown helps prevent potential problems with your bite and improve aesthetics. Once we are satisfied with the fit, we will permanently attach the crown to your dental implant.
Multiple Tooth Implants
We may recommend a multiple tooth implant restoration if you have multiple missing teeth adjacent to one another. The most common restoration is known as a partial fixed bridge. We will be able to determine if you qualify for an implant-supported bridge using advanced diagnostic tools, such as x-rays and CBCT scans.
Patients that qualify for multiple tooth restoration must have a jawbone that is strong enough to support multiple implants. If the jawbone is too soft or thin, we may recommend a bone graft. Once we conclude that you are a suitable candidate, we can schedule your procedure.
Multiple tooth implants follow the same basic steps as a single tooth solution, but on a larger scale. During your initial surgery, we usually place an implant screw for each missing tooth. If this is not possible due to bone deterioration, we can also suspend a pontic (false tooth) between two implant-supported crowns.
The process of osseointegration may take a little longer with multiple implants. Once this process is complete, we can place your final bridge. Much like implant-supported crowns, your new restoration will look, feel, and function just like your natural teeth.
Full-Arch Implant Solutions
If you are missing all or most of your teeth, we may recommend a full-arch implant solution. As the name suggests, a full-arch restoration is designed to replace an entire ridge of missing teeth. The number of implants you need depends on the type of full-arch restoration you choose.
Regardless, we use advanced imaging technology to determine the precise placement of each implant. This precision allows us to reduce the number of implants you need and improve the durability of your restoration. A full-arch appliance can require anywhere from two to eight implants.
Once your implants are in place, we may be able to load a temporary restoration immediately. This helps you avoid going without teeth for an extended period of time. After your healing process is complete, and each implant has fully integrated with your bone, we can place your permanent appliance.
These days, patients have more options than ever before when it comes to full-arch implant solutions. The most common restorations include implant-retained dentures, implant-supported overdentures, and complete fixed bridges.
All-on-4 Treatment Concept
All-on-4 is a revolutionary treatment concept that allows us to provide a full-arch restoration using only four implants. By determining the precise placement of each implant with 3-D imaging technology, we can maximize the support of your jawbone. More specifically, the two posterior (back) implants are placed at an angle that utilizes the bone-dense area of your jaw.
With fewer implants, All-on-4 can drastically reduce the length of your healing period, and eliminate the need for a preliminary bone graft. All-on-4 is also one of the only full-arch restorations that often allows for same-day installation.
Trefoil™ Treatment Concept
If you are missing all of the teeth on your lower arch, another great full arch restoration is known as the Trefoil™ concept. Trefoil™ is a full-arch, tooth replacement system for the lower jaw (mandible) that is supported by only three dental implants. Trefoil incorporates a pre-manufactured titanium framework that fits the mandible and is supported by only three dental implants.
Alternatives to Dental Implants
We believe that dental implants are the ideal solution to tooth loss. However, implant treatment is not for everyone. Alternatives to dental implants, such as conventional bridges and removable dentures (partial and complete), can also be effective.
We generally recommend dental implants because of their many benefits over more conventional options. An implant-supported restoration is usually the next best thing to your natural teeth. Implants have become the industry standard thanks to improved aesthetics, durability, longevity, comfort, convenience, and long-term oral health benefits. The cost of dental implants can vary, but it is worth it to restore your smile and not have any jaw issues in the future.
Why Choose an Oral Surgeon?
If you are interested in implant treatment, an oral surgeon is the way to go. Each of our surgeons here at Lehigh Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery have received extensive and specialized education in regards to dental implants. While some general dentists offer implant surgery, they do not possess the same level of expertise or experience. As implant specialists, we will be able to answer your questions and address your concerns during your initial consultation.
Schedule Your Consultation
Find out if dental implants are right for you! Call (610) 435-6161 to schedule your consultation appointment now!