In the past we didn’t have a lot of options for replacing teeth. We had to choose between either a removable option (denture) or a fixed option (bridge). Due to the limitations of bridges and dentures, teeth were often not replaced at all. Implants are currently used in a great deal of situations that we didn’t have great solutions for previously such as stabilizing dentures, replacing individual teeth, replacing entire arches, and anchorage for orthodontics. With advances in our understanding of the biologic process behind dental implant integration and improvements in technology, implant use has become a routine part of dental treatment and is considered the standard of care in many situations.
Dr. Bell has been placing implants for over ten years and has trained with the most highly regarded clinicians and implantology leaders in the world. Our clinic only uses the best implants available on the market and we are constantly upgrading our training to stay current as technology and new clinical techniques develop.
A tooth has two main parts. What you see above the gum is called a clinical crown. What you don’t see, hiding below the gum tissue, is the root(s). The implant functions as the root of a tooth, and a ceramic crown attaches to implant to replace the natural clinical crown. Implants are made of titanium alloy and/or zirconia and are roughly cylindrical in shape. To replace a missing tooth, an implant is inserted into the bone and is given time to integrate. How much time is mostly dependent on the quality of bone that it is inserted into, but in most cases the implant is integrated in 2 to 4 months. Once the implant is properly integrated, the top of the implant is exposed and either an impression or an intra-oral digital scan is done, from which the crown is made. The crown is custom designed for your mouth and is rigidly attached to the implant.
Replacing multiple missing teeth with implants is a wonderful way to replace teeth that have been lost. Usually, this is done using an implant supported bridge. An implant supported bridge connects multiple implants with a ceramic bridge that replicates missing teeth. It is not usually necessary or advisable to replace each missing tooth with its own implant. In most cases, several teeth can be replaced with only two or three implants.
When replacing all the teeth in an arch with implants, there is considerable planning and thought put into what your desired outcome is. There are many different ways to replace teeth using implants. The most popular options are a full arch porcelain bridge, a traditional denture stabilized by implants, or a friction fit prosthetic called Conus. All of the options have their endearing qualities and drawbacks. A full arch porcelain bridge is usually supported by 6 implants and is rigidly fixed to the implants using small screws. The aesthetics are outstanding, but it is costly and challenging to perform hygiene on. A traditional denture can be fabricated and stabilized with attachments called locator abutments that engage the implants. Either two or four implants are used to stabilize a denture. Four implants allows the palate to be removed on the denture. The locator abutments prevent the denture from moving or dislodging during chewing, but the denture is easily removed for cleaning. Conus prosthetics combine the stability of the full arch porcelain bridge with the ease of cleaning of a removable prosthetic. The teeth are mounted on custom designed abutments that extend from the implants and form a rigid friction fit.
If you have an existing denture that moves or comes loose when you are chewing or talking, implants can be used to help stabilize the denture and prevent it from moving. This can usually be done with either a full denture or a partial denture. In many cases, your existing denture can be used to attach to implants using snaps called locator abutments. For an upper denture, with the palate covered, two implants can be used to keep the denture stable. If you would like to have the palate removed, four implants are needed for stability.