Dental Implants

Dental Implants

Before the development of dental implants, dentures were the only alternative to replacing a missing tooth or teeth. Implants look and feel more natural, and, you don’t have to take them in and out of your mouth like you do with dentures.

What Are Dental Implants?

A dental implant is a small titanium post that is surgically placed in the jawbone. Following a period of healing, it acts much like the root of a tooth over which a crown will be placed. Implants can support a single crown or long span bridges, and are often used when rehabilitating an entire dentition. They are considered long-term restorations and provide excellent results — they are comfortable, natural-looking and high functioning.

Are You a Good Candidate?

Not everyone is a candidate for a dental implant. For a successful implant to take hold, a candidate must have proper bone density and a strong immune system. In general, good candidates who have dental implants can expect high success rates with the procedure. To find out if you’re a good candidate, schedule an appointment with Drs. John and Clare Houlihan, Westchester, IL dental implant specialists.

The Procedure

The procedure can take several visits. During the first visit, an anchor is placed into the jawbone and the site is allowed to heal for several weeks or months. This gives your tissue time to grow around the anchor to hold it firmly in place. During a follow-up visit, an artificial, natural-looking tooth is fitted over the implanted anchor.

Types of Implants

Full Upper Replacement. The full upper set of teeth is replaced with implants. Procedure steps include:

  1. Missing tooth roots are replaced with implants, which are covered under the gum line.
  2. A healing period of up to six months allows the implants to take hold.
  3. The implants are uncovered and extensions are attached.
  4. Replacement teeth are affixed to the implants and extensions.

Anterior Replacement. Implants are used to replace the front teeth (also called incisors and cuspids). Procedure steps include:

  1. Missing tooth roots are replaced with implants, which are covered under the gum line.
  2. A healing period of up to six months allows the implants to take hold.
  3. The implants are uncovered and extensions are attached.
  4. Replacement teeth are affixed to the implants and extensions.

Full Lower Replacement. The lower set of teeth is replaced with implants. Full lower replacement usually only requires four to six implants (near the front), which are used to anchor a denture. This obviates the need for denture adhesive.

Posterior Replacement. Implants are used to replace the bicuspids and molars (the back teeth). Procedure steps include:

  1. Missing tooth roots are replaced with implants, which are covered under the gum line.
  2. A healing period of up to six months allows the implants to take hold.
  3. The implants are uncovered and extensions are attached.
  4. Replacement teeth are affixed to the implants and extensions.

Single Tooth Replacement. An implant is used to replace a missing tooth. Procedure steps include:

  1. Missing tooth root is replaced with an implant, which is covered under the gum line.
  2. A healing period of up to six months allows the implant to take hold.
  3. The implant is uncovered and an abutment attached.
  4. Replacement tooth is affixed to the implant and abutment.