What are dental implants?
Dental implants are one of the few ways to replace missing teeth (bridges and dentures are other options).
Dental implants have three parts: implant fixture (screw), abutment (connector), and crown. Implant fixtures (made of titanium) are surgically placed in the jawbone serving as roots of missing teeth. Abutments are screwed into the implant fixtures. Crowns get cemented onto the abutments.
Implant fixtures are made of titanium, which our body does not reject.
Normally after a tooth gets extracted, about 3-4 months of healing time is required before an implant is placed. And then 4-6 months of osseointegration (fusion to bone) time is required before a crown is put on. So there will be an empty space for about 7-10 months.
Immediate implant is an option to skip and expedite the whole procedure. On the same day of extraction, an implant is placed with a temporary crown. So from the beginning, there is a tooth. It is a new tooth in one day!
Although there are many advantages of immediate implants, they are recommended only for some situations. If you are still interested, please discuss with Dr. Kim.
Dental implants vs Bridge
Replacing your missing teeth with a bridge may require permanent changes to adjacent natural teeth. To create a fixed bridge to replace a single missing tooth, your dentist must first grind down adjacent healthy teeth to support a fixed bridge. This may significantly compromise the life expectancy of the supporting teeth due to the permanent changes to the tooth structure. Additionally, there are other risk factors such as bacterial access to the supporting teeth, which can lead to dental decay and gum disease, as well as possible oral bone and tissue loss. Unlike a fixed bridge, replacing a single missing tooth with dental implants limits the compromise to the surrounding natural teeth.
After a tooth gets extracted, except immediate implant cases, a healing time is required for regular implants or bridge.
For bridge cases, it takes about 1-2 months for the gum healing. Adjacent teeth can be trimmed down for bridges. So the total time can be 2-3 months.
Conventional implants require longer healing time for the bone. It usually takes about 4-6 months for the bone to heal. Implants can be placed and then we need 3-6 months for the osseointegration to occur. Then crown can be fabricated and cemented. So the total time can be 7-12 months.
It is harder to keep the bridge clean. All these teeth are connected, so it is impossible to put a floss through from top to bottom. You have to put the floss under the pontic (connecting crown that doesn't have a root) from the side way, but it takes more efforts and time to clean. When you don't do your due diligence, there is a high chance for dental decay. Then, the bridge has to be replaced.
Keeping the implant clean is the same as your own teeth. You brush and floss the same away. There is no real tooth structure in implants and that means no dental decay. It is easier to take care of implants and therefore, implants can last longer.
In most cases, implants will be more expensive. There can be extra procedures needed - bone graft, gum graft, and/or sinus lift.
But if you look at this for the longer term, implants can be cheaper because they can last longer than bridges.
You may get more insurance help for implants. You may use insurance benefit for implant placement this year and then restoration next year. Check with our front desk team.
Replacing multiple tooth
Sometimes you don't need an implant for every
missing tooth. If you don't have a strong biting habit
and you have enough support from the other
remaining teeth, you may have bridges over
implants. This means that 2 implants can support
3- or 4-unit bridge. Dentists will check your
occlusal scheme for this option.
Implants with Dentures
Implants can be used to provide better retention for dentures.
These are called implants overdenture. That means it is a denture sitting on 2-4 implants. Regular size implants or
mini-implants can be placed in the jawbone depending on
the bone condition. Housing parts can be placed inside the dentures. They can snap on like buttons. These dentures
can stay very well and be removable when you want to clean them.
Although this is a great option when dentures are too loose, it is still closer to dentures. These dentures are still supported by the gum. Chewing force will be still limited.
For the better retention, the gum and the palate area still be covered with denture.
All -on-4 Implant Denture Hybrid
This is a more of permanent denture connected on
4-6 implants. There is a titanium bar inside the
denture providing strength and screwed on to
implants. It works like a permanent prosthesis that
you can't remove it. But it can be removable only at
dental office because dentists have tools to
disconnect and clean it.
This is also an immediate procedure, meaning all
the necessary teeth will be extracted, all the implants
will be placed, and the temporary prosthesis will be
connected on to the implants all on the same day. It means that you don't have to be without teeth at all. Then, 4-6 months later, a permanent prosthesis will be made and replace the temporary one.
Since the prosthesis is supported by the implants, not the gum, you can chew way better. In addition, because of the tight connection to the implants, the prosthesis will not be loose and there is no covering over the gum and palate areas. So you can taste foods better (there are taste buds in them as well).