Crowns, bridges and dentures are not your only options when it comes to fixing or replacing missing teeth. For many, dental implants offer a solution that looks and feels very much like the real thing. Implants offer stability because they fuse to your bone and some people find this secure fit more comfortable than more conventional substitutions. Some patients will not be candidates for this type of procedure, but if you have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant, this may be the choice for you. A thorough evaluation by Dr. Watson will help determine whether you are a good candidate for dental implants.
An implant is commonly composed of a titanium screw and a crown. A small pilot hole is drilled at the site where the tooth is missing in order to guide the titanium screw that holds a dental implant in place. The pilot hole is slowly widened to allow for placement of the implant screw and a protective cover screw is placed on top to allow the implant site to heal and the dental implant to anchor. After several months, the protective cover is removed and a temporary crown is placed on top of the dental implant. The temporary crown serves as a template around which the gum grows and shapes itself. The process is completed when the temporary crown is replaced with a permanent crown.
Implants are typically placed in a single sitting but require a period of osseointegration. Osseointegration is when a direct connection between the dental implant root and living bone occurs. This process takes anywhere from 3 to 6 months to anchor and heal and should not be rushed due to the fact that if fusion does not occur, the implant will fail.
Dental implants have some of the highest success rates of all dental procedures. Studies suggest a five-year success rate of 95% for lower jaw implants and 90% for upper jaw implants. Dr. Watson will go over many possible outcomes for this procedure with you and can answer any questions you may have about the process and results you will likely see. We do warn that if you are a smoker who is considering implants, it is best to give up smoking before undergoing this process. Smokers face a higher risk of osseointegration failure and since the procedure can be extremely expensive, you risk wasting money and time on dental implants if you do not quit for the necessary healing period.