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Dental Implants

It is not uncommon for a natural tooth to be missing or need to be removed due to a fracture or extensive decay. A single tooth can be replaced with 3 methods: 1) a removable appliance, 2) a bridge, or 3) an implant. A dental implant has several major advantages over the removable appliance and the bridge. The dental implant will not require drilling the adjacent teeth and the implant will preserve the jawbone in the area. Although the initial cost may be similar to a bridge, the implant may prove to be less expensive in the long-term because it should not require replacement or adjustments over time.

Procedure

The first phase of treatment is to place the dental implant. The implant is the anchor which acts just like the root of a natural tooth. The implant will typically be left untreated for a period of 3-6 months. During this time, the bone will grow and attach to the implant in a process called osseointegration. A temporary crown may be utilized during this time to preserve the cosmetic appearance particularly when the area is in the front of the mouth.

The next step in the process is to fabricate and secure an abutment to the implant. The abutment is the intermediate portion of the system that will connect the implant under the gum to a crown or bridge above the gumline. Typically an impression is taken of the implant and an abutment is either custom made or a stock abutment is modified for each individual application.

In the final step, the abutment is secured to the implant and an impression is taken for the final crown or bridge to be made. The crown or bridge is adjusted and evaluated for fit, comfort and esthetics and cemented onto the abutment.