Dental implants replace tooth roots in the mouth. Implants provide a strong foundation for fixed or removable replacement teeth. Dental implants are small anchors made of a biocompatible metal called titanium and are placed in the jawbone. The anchors begin to fuse with the bone over the course of a few months in a process called osseointegration. After the fusing process, abutment posts are inserted into the anchors. A crown can then be attached to the abutment post.
An implant supported bridge is a restorative solution for spaces where three or more adjacent teeth are missing. This restoration typically requires two implants to support the porcelain bridge. The bridge provides a functional and aesthetic replacement for a patient’s natural teeth.
For patients who are missing many or all of their teeth, implant supported dentures may be an alternative to traditional dentures. This solution requires the placement of two or more implants. In order to replace a full arch denture, a minimum of four implants is generally recommended. Eligibility for this solution is dependent upon a number of factors, with jaw bone density being one of the most significant determining factors.
Traditional dentures rely on an acrylic base that sits directly on the gums, held in place by a paste or adhesive. Using implants as supports for dentures allows for a smaller and more comfortable base and less shifting of the prosthesis during use.
Implants can support both full and partial dentures as well as both fixed and removable dentures. If a removable denture is selected, the denture will “snap” on to the implant rather than requiring the use of denture paste or adhesives.
Full Arch with Only 4 Implants
This procedure is a unique implant solution that allows patients with a completely edentulous (toothless) upper or lower arch to replace all of the teeth in that arch using only four implants as anchors.
Implant supported dentures are an improvement over traditional dentures, in that chewing, speaking, and smiling all feel more natural. For the upper arch in particular, an implant supported full arch means there is no plate covering the roof of the mouth, so speaking and eating are more natural and comfortable than with a traditional denture.
Mini Dental Implants (MDIs)
There are times when a full size implant is not a viable option, and in many cases an MDI may be a great solution. Small spaces or inadequate bone mass in the jaw may prevent the use of traditional implants. Mini Dental Implants are similar to regular implants but, as the name suggests, are significantly smaller in diameter. Dental implants typically take 2 visits and require a waiting period of a few months from the time of implant placement to the time the permanent replacement tooth can be placed. The placement of MDIs is minimally invasive, often requiring only local anesthetic and no sutures. For this reason, MDIs can often be placed with the final replacement tooth in one day.
Using a virtual 3-D model or a physical model, implant placement and the following restorative work can be simulated to create the ideal patient treatment plan. Once planning is complete, specialized software can be used to create a surgical guide for use during implant placement. This guide directs the exact location, angle, and depth of the implant placement. The use of the guide increases the accuracy, efficiency, safety, and predictability of the procedure.
These virtual plans allow the doctor to take multiple aspects of implant placement and restoration into consideration, resulting in optimal aesthetics, function, and longevity for the patient’s final restoration. Working with a 3-D model also allows the patient to better understand the procedures and visualize the end result.