The first implants were used by Mayan civilization dating back over 1,350 years. Archaeologists have found a fragment of mandible of Mayan origin, dating from about 600 AD. This mandible, which is considered to be that of a woman in her twenties, had three tooth-shaped pieces of shell placed into the sockets of three missing lower incisor teeth. Compact bone formation was seen around two of the implants, which led to the conclusion that the implants were placed during life and not after the woman’s death.
What are they?
A dental implant is a titanium “root” used in dentistry to support restorations that resemble a tooth or group of teeth to replace missing teeth.
Virtually all dental implants placed today are root-form endosseous implants, i.e., they appear similar to an actual tooth and are placed within the bone. The bone of the jaw accepts and osseointegrates with the titanium post. The osseointegration is the component of this implant procedure that makes it resemble the look and feel of a natural tooth.
Why might I need implants?
People lose one or more teeth for a wide variety of reasons, including infection, gum disease, accident or injury. When natural teeth are removed, many problems occur. The remaining teeth shift, rotate and become crooked. An improper bite will develop, making it very difficult to chew food properly. Spaces and gaps between teeth may cause embarrassment, problems with speech, and lack of self-esteem. Dental implants, when properly placed, can restore missing teeth, thereby eliminating these potential problems. People who have teeth replaced with dental implants report better ability to chew food and eat properly, renewed confidence while speaking, and better self-esteem.
What is the Implant Procedure?
The first step is an examination and consultation to determine whether you are a candidate for dental implant treatment. This involves examination of x-rays and may include taking impressions for models of your teeth and for fabrication of a surgical guide or stent. If you have lost a significant amount of bone, additional x-rays or a CT may also be recommended.
During the examination, we will evaluate the areas of your mouth where teeth are missing, including the amount of bone available to support the placement of implants. We will also be evaluating the type of replacement teeth that will best meet your needs.
Implant Placement Procedure
The implants are placed in the jaw bone during a surgical procedure. Following implant placement the implants may be left undisturbed for a period of 3-6 months so that the bone can bond with the implants. In the meantime your dentist will usually provide you with temporary replacement teeth so that you do not go without teeth for that period of time.
Abutment Attachment Procedure
Following appropriate healing period, a small connector, or extension, called an abutment, is attached to each implant. The permanent replacement teeth will eventually be attached to the abutments.
Fabrication of Replacement Teeth
A series of appointments with your dentist will be needed to take impressions of your teeth and the implant abutments, to place temporary replacement teeth, to select the appropriate shade for your replacement teeth, and to try them for proper fit. In between these appointments, the laboratory technician will fabricate your replacement teeth and the underlying structures that will be attached to the implants.
Will I be awake or asleep during the procedure?
This will always be your choice although recommendations will be made during your consultation appointment and your options assessed.
How much will it cost me?
An itemized quotation will be provided to you during your consultation appointment. This will include an estimate of hospital and anesthetic fees if required. You may then wish to contact your health insurance fund to assess your ‘out of pocket’ expenses.
Do I need to see a specialist?
General Dentists may provide your oral care year by year however they generally choose to refer implants to a specialist oral surgeon.
Are there any risks?
As with all surgical procedures there are general and specific risks associated with providing implants. The risks associated with your particular case will be discussed in detail during your consultation.