Dental implants are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything and can smile with confidence, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved. The implants are tiny titanium posts which are placed into the jawbone where teeth are missing. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. In addition, dental implants can help preserve facial structure, preventing the bone deterioration which occurs when teeth are missing.
Evaluation for Dental Implants
If, like many others, you feel implant dentistry is the choice for you, we ask that you undergo a dental/radiographic examination and health history. During these consultation visits, your specific needs and considerations will be addressed by Dr. Bewley. Your questions and concerns are important to us and our team will work with you very closely to help make your procedure a success.
Dental Implant Procedure
Dental implants are metal anchors, which act as tooth root substitutes. They are surgically placed into the jawbone. Small posts are then attached to the implant, which protrude through the gums. These posts provide stable anchors for artificial replacement teeth. They may be used to replace a single missing tooth, a few missing teeth, or an entire dental arch of missing teeth. The success rate of standard size dental implants exceeds 99% in most cases, and may be expected to last as long as twenty years. Many people find them to be a permanent solution. Failures can and do happen, but they are rare and may be managed in our office.
For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves one or two surgical procedures. First, implants are placed within your jawbone. For the first three to six months following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums, gradually bonding with the jawbone. If indicated for dentures, you should be able to wear temporary dentures and eat a soft diet during this time. For a single crown or an implant bridge this is generally not necessary. At the same time, your restorative dentist designs the final bridgework or denture, which will ultimately improve both function and aesthetics.
After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. We will uncover the implants and attach a small healing collar. This healing collar can sometimes be placed at the initial surgery if the clinical presentation allows it, potentially sparing you a second visit.
Dr. Bewley can then start making your new teeth. An impression must be taken, which is usually digital in our office, but may require traditional impression methods from time to time. Then posts or attachments can be connected to the implants. The replacement teeth are then made over the posts or attachments. The entire procedure usually takes six to eight months. Most patients do not experience any disruption in their daily life.
Why do standard implants take longer to heal than small diameter or mini implants? The answer is based in biology, and is pretty complex, but essentially you’re talking about the available surface area for your body to attach to. Greater available surface area means that it takes longer for your bone cells to integrate with the implant. The result, however, is greater volume of bone attached to the implant, which means that the long term result is more predictable and durable than a smaller implant with less surface area available for your body to use. Advancements in implant design and implant surface treatments allow us to restore your implants in as few as 3 weeks after placement in select cases.
Mini Dental Implants
Mini dental implants, also known as denture-retention implants, securely hold dentures in place and are significantly less expensive than traditional dental implants. It is very important that you understand what mini implants can and cannot do. Despite ads you may see on television or claims made by some providers, they are not new technology, high tech, non-surgical, or possessing magical properties that allow them to defy the laws of nature and biomechanics. They are placed in a manner similar to standard implants, meaning that a small opening in the gums must be made in order to expose the bone, a small hole is made in the bone, and the mini implant is delivered; it’s a surgery. A minor one, but a surgery nonetheless. Mini implants were used extensively in the 1970’s and it was understood then the limitations of their use. They are quite good at retaining lower dentures when placed in the dense bone of the mandible. They can also be used for single tooth replacement in small spaces like incisors. They are not nearly as successful as standard implants in replacing molar teeth or supporting implant bridges. I have extensive training in implant surgery and restoration, and have placed many standard implants as well as mini implants. I use whatever tool is most appropriate for the job. Providers who place mini implants exclusively? Well, when all you have is a hammer……
While they are not necessarily intended as a permanent solution, mini dental implants can be a quick, affordable, temporary solution that may last for up to ten years in an ideal situation. This denture stabilization procedure takes less than 2 hours and usually requires no incision or stitches, which means that you can walk away with a brand new smile in just one appointment!
The process begins with a 3D scan of your jaw to ensure proper placement of the small titanium posts that will be inserted to secure your denture. The next step of the procedure is minimally invasive and is performed in our office under local anesthetic or light sedation. Four to six implants are inserted into the lower jaw (depending on your particular need) while the retaining fixtures are placed into your denture. The retaining fixture contains an O-ring that ensures a snug fit over the head of the implant. Your dentures will sit gently on your gums while being held firmly in place with the mini dental implants. Due to its simplicity, there is almost no bleeding, swelling, or inflammation immediately following this procedure.
Mini dental implants are FDA approved for lower denture stabilization and have been used by dentists for decades. They have a 95% success rate over 5 years when performed by an experienced dentist and are great for patients who don’t have enough bone density for full-sized implants. And the best part is… You will be able to toss those messy denture adhesives and creams, and chew, speak, and smile with confidence once again!
Are you ready to replace your missing teeth and smile with confidence again?
For more information about Dental Implants or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bewley:
- Call us at (502) 244-4474.
- Fill out our Appointment Form.