A dental implant (fixture) is a cylinder made of pure titanium or titanium alloy that is fitted precisely into a hole drilled into the jaw bone where a tooth used to be.
After a period of time, the bone heals and attaches to the implant locking it into the jaw in a process called osseointegration. Once this has occurred the implant can be used as an anchor to hold a crown, bridge or be used to help hold a denture in position (over denture).
The key factors in determining weather or not you are a candidate for dental implants are first, the quality and amount of bone available to place the implant into. This information is determined by analyzing x-rays, study models or CT-Scans.
The next factor is weather there are any reasons that you should not undergo minor dental surgical procedures and weather there are any systemic problems or medications that you take that would exclude you as a candidate
Age does not play a factor in your ability to have dental implants so long as your general health is good and you don’t have any of the other risk factors mentioned.
Smoking can reduce the success of implant integration. Smoking impairs healing and has other negative effects that are well known. We suggest that you consider quitting.
Certain medications can exclude you as a candidate. These include drugs that suppress your immune system such long term use of steroid medications and some medications used to treat HIV.
Recently there has been a debate on risks of dental surgery on patients who have been taking osteoporosis medications called bisphosphonates such as Fosamax. These medications increase the risk of jaw infections in patients who have received them intravenously as chemotherapy to treat some forms of cancer. It has not been determined if they pose any significantly increased risk in patients who have taken them orally. If you take bisphosphonates, we may need to modify your medications for a period prior to placing implants which would be done in coordination with your physician.
The vast majority of dental implant procedures are done in the office with local anesthetic. Additional sedatives are available to you if you prefer.
An incision is made in the gum where the implant is to go. The gum is gently pulled back to expose the underlying jaw bone. A series of progressively sized drills are used to precisely create a hole that is exactly the correct size for the implant being used. The implant is then threaded into the site and the gum tissue is closed.
On very rare occasions when placing an implant we determine that the amount or quality of bone present is not adequate for implant success. In those cases we may abandon the implant placement and do a bone grafting procedure instead, returning to place an implant at a later date.
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