Implants can save a person’s smile when natural teeth are missing. When finalized, they look naturally beautiful, and implants restore full ability to chew and talk comfortably and help maintain the healthy shape of the jawbone. For all these reasons, many of our patients are interested in finding out more about implants, and a great place to start is to learn the lingo. In this article, we’ll make a point of using many of the terms you might hear to give you a feel for the process.
The Most Common Type of Implant
The overall process of getting an implant generally includes placing the implant in the jawbone, attaching temporary replacement teeth to the implant, and then later attaching the final replacement teeth.
The most commonly used type of implant is placed within the jawbone, just like the roots of teeth. In fact, this type is called root form because they’re intended to replace the roots of teeth. You might also hear them called endosseous or endosteal (“within the bone”) implants. These implants are shaped like a cylinder or a tapered cylinder, and most are made of titanium. Titanium is an inert metal, which means that it’s nontoxic and most people won’t have a chemical or allergic reaction to it. Titanium is also able to form a very secure bond with surrounding jawbone as the bone grows tightly around the implant. This process is called osseointegration (“integration with bone”).
Implants support replacement teeth, including crowns, bridges, and even dentures. Sometimes, you might see these replacements referred to as restorations or prosthetics.
Placing and Loading Implants
In finding out more about root form implants, you may come across some additional implant terms. They describe how many stages the implant placement process will require and how quickly the implants will be loaded with replacement teeth. Most treatment decisions will depend on your general medical condition, the health of your gums and jawbone, and certain lifestyle habits like smoking. This means that the process can take several months and require several different procedures, or it may happen more quickly.
Because there are so many situations that can be treated with implants, and because each of these may call for different treatment methods, we can’t really discuss them all in this article. So let’s talk about two very different scenarios: an implant bridge that’s replacing three back molars that have been missing for several years and a single front implant that’s replacing a newly extracted tooth.
Implants to Replace Three Back Teeth
In this scenario, three back teeth that are next to each other are being replaced with implants. The teeth have been missing for awhile, so the gum tissues have healed over, but the jawbone in that area may have begun to recede. The traditional staged placement method, which is often used to place implants in this situation, refers to the fact that placing the implant in the bone may take two or more stages over several appointments.
When planning the implant process, one of the first aspects we consider is the health of the jawbone tissue. In this example, the jawbone has begun to recede, so there is not enough healthy jawbone to support an implant. This means we’ll add bone tissue to the implant site. This is a bone graft procedure, and it’s done to encourage your body to grow healthy new bone. We may then need to let the bone heal for awhile, or we may be able to proceed to the next stage in the same appointment.
The next stage is to create channels in the bone, and then gently place the implants into the channels. After the implants are placed, they may each be covered with a protective healing cap. The gums may then be stitched over or around the healing caps, and the site is left alone for several months while the bone heals and the implant becomes firmly integrated with the bone.
The next step is to load the implant. Loading refers to attaching the replacement teeth onto the implants. It’s not unusual for implants that are placed in the back of the mouth to be loaded at a later date, after the implants have become completely integrated into the jawbone. This is referred to as delayed loading. Delayed loading is used to protect implants from chewing forces that they’re not ready for. Back teeth have to take a lot of force, and implants that have no adjacent teeth to help take on some of that force may need extra time to become securely integrated.
To load traditional staged implants, small incisions may be made in the gums to expose and remove the healing caps, and connecting extensions, called abutments, are added to the top of the implants. The replacement teeth are then attached to the abutments. In this example, the replacement would most likely be in the form of an implant-supported bridge.
An Implant to Replace a Single Front Tooth
In this case, let’s assume that the front tooth has had to be extracted, but that the jawbone is healthy, and there are no additional problems. This situation can often allow the implant to be placed immediately. In immediate placement (also called single-stage placement), the tooth is removed, its socket is shaped to receive the implant, and then the implant is placed into the jawbone right away.
With a single-stage implant, we can often use the immediate load method, in which the abutment and the replacement tooth are attached immediately after the implant is placed. Implants in the front of the mouth, especially when the bone is healthy and only one tooth is being replaced, are more likely to be immediately loaded because they have neighbors that can help take the biting force while the implant is healing.
After the implant is loaded with the temporary replacement tooth, the gum and bone tissues will continue healing, and eventually the implant will be ready to take full biting and chewing forces. At that point, we’ll remove the initial temporary prosthetic and attach the permanent prosthetic to your implant.
The final restoration can be either fixed or removable. Single-tooth crowns and most bridges are fixed, which means you don’t remove them. Implant-supported dentures can be either fixed or removable.
For More Information
If you want to replace missing teeth or a soon-to-be removed tooth, we will be happy to talk with you about implants. The situations we’ve described here are just two examples. Your situation will be different, and we’ll work with you to find a variations.
Please feel free to call us (+90 530 522 9179) or e-mail – email@example.com
Dentart Implant & Aethetic Dentistry Istanbul Turkey