Making the Right Choice

Tooth loss can occur for a variety of reasons, most commonly due to decay, disease, infection, or injury. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to restore a person’s smile and maintain optimal oral health. In addition to bridges and dentures, several types of dental implants can be used to replace missing teeth. But, why is it important to correct the problem? 

One or more missing teeth can cause aesthetic issues with a person’s smile. Missing teeth can also lead to functional problems, like difficulty with biting and chewing and speech difficulties with slurring, spitting, or whistling while speaking. Despite the obvious difficulties, some people choose to forgo treatment and live with tooth loss. While this is certainly an option, not replacing any missing teeth can lead to potentially serious complications, including an uneven bite, crooked teeth, and atrophy of the jaw (bone loss). This can result in changes in facial structure, giving the person a sunken and aged look. Also, the teeth surrounding the missing tooth may drift toward the gap, making it more difficult to keep the mouth clean and increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease. 

Different techniques of dental implant placement can prevent these complications and restore functionality and facial aesthetics. Replacement teeth are convenient and durable, lasting for years, even decades, which is why it is important to make the right choice.

What are dental implants?

A dental implant consists of a dentist-designed substitute for tissues that is surgically inserted into the mouth. It is essentially a replacement for the root of a missing tooth. The titanium implant is placed in the jawbone and serves as a foundation to which the crown is attached. The crown is custom-made and is the visible portion of the replacement tooth that matches the shade of the adjacent natural teeth. 

Among all the treatment options for missing teeth, implants are the most similar to natural teeth. They are available in different types and sizes. The dental team at Great Miami Dental Associates can use several techniques to place them in the jaw. The type and technique of dental implant needed determines how long the treatment will take. This can range from one day to several months. Surgical planning software and 3D digital imaging have made dental implant procedures extremely precise and predictable, saving both time and money.

Endosteal Dental Implants

This is the most common type of dental implant. It is securely placed at the site of the missing tooth. There are several advantages to this type of dental implant. Endosteal dental implants usually integrate well with natural jawbone. Although the integration process can take several weeks, once it is completed, the implant is anchored firmly in the bone, making it extremely durable. The design features of these implants support good aesthetics, facilitate ease of treatment, and have an excellent success rate and unmatched longevity. Last but not least, this type of dental implant is associated with a low complication rate and is relatively easy to maintain in the long term.

Subperiosteal Dental Implants

This type of dental implant is placed in the gums, above the jawbone. It consists of a surface-level exposed metal frame with small posts to which the crown is anchored. Subperiosteal implants are typically recommended for people who do not have a sufficiently healthy jawbone to support an endosteal implant. Procedures, such as bone augmentation, sinus lift, and ridge expansion, can help rebuild the jawbone and provide a sturdier foundation for implant-mounted teeth. However, some patients cannot or do not want to undergo these procedures. Subperiosteal dental implants may move slightly while talking and chewing. They are not as strong as endosteal implants but may still be preferable to dentures or bridges. This type of implant looks and feels like a natural tooth, allowing a person to eat, speak, and smile confidently. In addition, this procedure also has a shorter treatment and recovery time.

Single-Stage Dental Implant Technique

As the name suggests, this procedure involves only one surgery. The dental implant is placed in the gum or jaw with the top protruding. A temporary crown is left in place while the area heals. Once the healing is completed, the abutment and crown can be placed onto the implant without the need for any further surgery.

Two-Stage Dental Implant Technique

In this technique, the dental implant is surgically inserted into the jawbone during the first stage of the procedure. This is left in place for a few weeks to a couple of months to allow time for healing and osseointegration or jaw reformation. Following this, a second minor procedure is performed in which the gums are pulled back to reveal the top of the implant. The abutment and crown are then anchored in place during the second stage of the procedure.

Alternative Techniques for Dental Implant Placement

In addition to the traditional procedures mentioned above, some alternative treatment options are available based on the status of a patient’s jawbone health, personal preferences, and specific needs.

  • Immediate Load Dental Implants: This technique involves the placement of a temporary tooth at the time of implant installation. This is a same day dental implant. It is an option for people who have a sufficient amount of natural bone to support the pressure of the new temporary tooth without waiting for osseointegration.
  • Mini Dental Implants: These are narrow, toothpick-like dental implants that can be placed with a less invasive technique. They are typically used to stabilize lower dentures.
  • All-on-4®: This is an alternative option to top or bottom replacement. It is a full arch technique in which four dental implants are anchored in the available bone. There is no need for bone grafting. Temporary teeth are put in place on special abutments the same day. Although a modified diet will need to be followed during the healing period, patients will be able to consume a regular diet once the permanent replacement teeth are put in about six months later.

The decision to replace missing teeth is an important one and can feel intimidating at first. However, once you’re better acquainted with the options, it will cause less anxiety, and you can look forward to easier eating, improved appearance, clearer speech, and better oral health. Come see us at Great Miami Dental Associates today for an evaluation.