Many people have heard about dental implants but aren’t sure exactly what they are or what they’re used for. There are several uses for implants but most commonly they are used to replace single or multiple missing teeth. Implants are usually made of titanium, a metal that has been shown to be very acceptable to the body and has been used for many years in hip and knee replacement surgeries, and they look like small, hollow screws. Their purpose is to provide a stable anchor for some type of artificial tooth or denture and can be used in either the upper or lower jaw.
Implants have been in use for replacement of teeth for over twenty five years and are increasingly becoming a standard method of replacing teeth because they are the closest to reproducing “mother nature” of all the dental prosthetic techniques.
There are several steps to the process of placing and restoring implants that usually take several months to complete. The first step, after initial consultation and treatment planning, is for the implant to be placed into the jaw with only the very top of the implant left visible slightly above the gum line. Usually Dr. Zlock is able to place the implants precisely and safely using the state of the art guided technology available to him. However, in some cases, he may feel it necessary to refer you to one of the local oral surgeons for this procedure.
After a period of usually 4 months of healing and integration of the implant, the second step is to place whatever type of restoration that is required onto the implant. For single tooth replacement, this is a type of crown that reproduces the original tooth contours and is permanently attached to the implant, usually fabricated in the office and usually taking about a week to fabricate and place.
For use as anchorage for removable dentures, there are support pieces screwed into each implant (always at least two and sometimes more) and previously fabricated dentures are supplied with attachments that will snap onto the implant anchors. The dentures can still be removed daily for cleaning but the use of the implants greatly improves the stability and function of the full denture.
Dental implants have revolutionized modern dentistry, allowing us to restore missing teeth to better comfort and function than was possible before. Many people who have struggled with missing teeth or poor fitting dentures can now be restored to a higher level of function and confidence than they were previously.