You have several options when replacing teeth; it isn’t limited to crowns and conventional bridges or dentures. Dental implants are aesthetically pleasing and feel very natural. Implants are surgically placed below the gums over a series of appointments. With time, they fuse to the jawbone and serve as a base for individual replacement teeth, bridges or dentures.
Through a process called osseointegration, implants offer stability because they fuse to your bone. Integration of the implants into your jaw also helps your replacement teeth feel more natural. Some patients have reported that the secure fit is more comfortable than alternatives. Dental implant candidates must have healthy gums and bone to support the implant.
Reasons for Dental Implants
- Keep the look and feel of a real tooth where one is missing
- Maintain healthy bone levels
- Help support over dentures
What Does a Dental Implant Involve?
- Implant Site Preparation: To prepare the site, the gum tissue is opened to expose the bone area. If there is insufficient bone structure, bone grafting may be recommended. With healthy bone, a special drill is used to prepare the bone to receive the implant.
- Placing the Implant: The implant is placed into the healthy bone and the tissue is sutured. The sutures are removed in seven to ten days. It is normal to expect three to six months to heal entirely. Osseointegration occurs over this time period allowing the implant to become part of the upper or lower jaw.
- Attaching the Post: A special post is attached to the implant when the gum tissue is ready. This post is the support for the new porcelain crown. Zirconium abutments attached to the implant post assure that the new porcelain tooth has translucency properties similar to a natural tooth.
- Placing the Crown: The new crown is made from impressions taken and shaded to match your existing teeth. The crown is cemented over the post. The final prosthetic crown appears as your natural tooth.
Smoking tends to lead to a high rate of failure in implants, so dental implants are not the best option for patients who are actively smoking. We will help you determine whether dental implants will be a good tooth replacement option for you. Proper brushing and flossing will maximize the longevity of your new dental implant.
- Grafting tissue and bone
- Jawbone structure
- Dental crown lengthening
Grafting Tissue and Bone
When reconstructive surgery is performed, oftentimes tissue and bone is needed from other areas of the body. This could include bone that is needed to restructure a part of the jaw or face or tissue that is needed to enhance the mouth. The materials needed for grafting can be taken from a person’s own body or from a cadaver donor, depending on the amount needed and what the patient has available.
If you have lost a significant amount of teeth in other areas of your mouth, your jawbone will likely have changed shape. At the root of your teeth is a bone that stays strong with the stimulation provided by your teeth. As soon as the stimulation is gone, however, your bone loses the stimulation and starts to become reabsorbed by your body. This causes a change to the structure of your face, as well as making it impossible to obtain dentures or dental implants when you are ready to replace the missing teeth. Ridge augmentation is the procedure that builds the jawbone back up, giving it the necessary shape to be able to withstand replacement teeth.
Dental Crown Lengthening
Crown lengthening (AKA: “crown-elongation” or “crown-extension”) is a surgical procedure that is done when the tooth is too short to provide adequate retention for a restoration (usually a crown).
When a tooth has a deep cavity, a crown and buildup are usually needed to restore the tooth. If the cavity extends too far below the gums, it becomes impossible to predictably make a crown that will last for any length of time. Performing crown lengthening where indicated improves the prognosis for the tooth.
Crown lengthening nearly always involves removing and re-contouring some of the bone around the tooth. This results in more tooth structure above the gums and smooth flowing gum contours. Not every tooth that needs a crown also needs crown lengthening surgery, it is only necessary when a deep cavity or crack is present.
Reasons for Crown Lengthening
- To be able to keep a tooth that would otherwise be removed
- Provide gum contours that make the tooth easy-to-clean again
- Improve the appearance of the gum line (in some cases)
- Provide a restored tooth that lasts longer
What Does Crown Lengthening Involve?
First, the dentist or periodontist will thoroughly numb the tooth or teeth needing crown lengthening. During this procedure, excess gum and bone tissue is reshaped to expose more of the natural tooth. After the procedure your dentist can now prepare the tooth for a functional, long lasting crown. As always, proper brushing and flossing is key to insuring the maximum life of your new crown.
The underlying dentin is a less dense system of microscopic tubes and canals. If the enamel or cementum is reduced, heat and cold more easily stimulate the nerves and can cause sensitivity. Further gum recession will also make it easier to get gum disease. This will cause your gums to: become red and bleed easily, continue receding or pulling away from the teeth, cause consistently bad breath, and eventually, get loose or shifting teeth. Addressing gum recession with gum graft surgery can both improve your oral health and perfect your smile, by covering roots that may be exposed, stopping gum recession from becoming worse and preventing future problems.