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Implant dentistry is the specialty that deals with the use of implants to replace a missing tooth or multiple missing teeth.
An Implant is a titanium screw or post that is surgically placed into the jawbone by a surgeon.
A natural tooth consist of two parts: the crown that we chew with and the root that anchors the tooth into the bone and gum tissue.
The implant replaces the tooth of the missing tooth. After a period of 3-6 months the prosthodontist replaces the natural crown. A component known as an abutment is attached to the implant and an artificial crown is placed on top of the abutment. Thus the implant tooth consists of an implant, an abutment, and an artificial crown.
The following information will explain the sequence of the implant procedure. Note that each specialist has 2 phases. The surgical phases follow one another while the prosthodontic phases come before and after the entire sugical procedure (surgical phases I and II).
The Dental implant procedure starts with your prosthodontist. We will make impressions and fabricate a temporary prosthesis that you will wear throughout the duration of your treatment. The temporary partial is worn to help you chew and for esthetic purposes.We will also fabricate a surgical implant template (a transparent guide) from your temporary partial. This template will be placed in your mouth during the surgery to guide the surgeon in the placement of the implants. Implants must be placed in the proper position so that the prosthesis will function properly and the teeth will look natural. Implants placed without a surgical template may not be aligned correctly, therefore compromising both function and esthetics.
Surgical Phase I
First, implants are placed within your jaw bone. For the first three to six months following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums gradually fusing with the bone in the jaw. You should be able to wear some type of temporary prosthesis and eat a soft diet during this time.
*sometimes in phase I the surgeon discovers there is not an adequate amount of bone to stabilize the implant. Bone grafts are then indicated. Bone grafts are placed in order to add more bone vertically or horizontally when there has been extensive bone loss. A bone graft takes 3-6 months to heal and then the implant can be placed. This procedure will make the duration of your treatment longer.
Surgical Phase II
After the implant has fused to the jawbone completely, the second phase begins. The surgeon wiil uncover the implants and attach a small healing collar. After two weeks your prosthodontist will be able to start the prosthodontic phase of the treatment.
Prosthodontic Phase II
First a temporary crown is fabricated on your new implant. The healing abutment is removed and the new prosthetic abutment is placed. The temporary permits us to evaluate the implant's strength and allows the patient to evaluate esthetics. The shape of the tooth or teeth can be changed in this temporary stage. This will be the blueprint for your final restoration. Later, impressions are made over the implants and sent to a lab where the final crown or prosthesis will be fabricated.
A simple implant procedure usually takes 6-10 months. More complex cases that require bone grafts to create a strong foundation for the implant with reconstruction of the surrounding teeth may take as long as 1-2 years.