Dental implants are changing the way people look and live. They are designed to provide a foundation for
replacement teeth which look, feel and function like natural teeth. The dental implant mimics the form of the
missing roots of your natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything,
knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved they can smile with confidence.
To plan your case properly, Dr. Bohannan will perform a complete review of your medical
history, your medications, any allergies and perform a complete physical examination of your dental condition.
Radiographs may be taken if the ones previously supplied by your dentist are inadequate for a accurate diagnosis
and treatment planning. In some cases, Dr. Bohannan may recommend conebeam radiography (a very limited CAT scan of
the jaws) which reveals in detail the three dimensional presentation of your jaw architecture. The pre-operative
work up usually includes getting impressions of your teeth to create models to help plan your surgery. Dr. Bohannan
and his staff will explain the implant work-up to you at your consulation appointment. The work-up portion of your
treatment plan is an essential step to ensure a good outcome.
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What are Dental Implants?
The implants themselves are tiny medical grade titanium posts, which are placed into the jawbone where the tooth
or teeth are missing. They are surgically placed into the jawbone using a variety of different methods. The bone
bonds (called osseointegration) with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Small
posts are then attached to the implant called abutments, which protrude through the gums. When all of this is
successful, your implant will a solid foundation to anchor your final restoration and restore both your smile as
well as your function. As a bonus, dental implants help to preserve the facial contours as they help prevent the
normal loss of jaw bone over time that happens when a tooth or teeth are lost. Implants also help preserve
facial structure, preventing the bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.
The Surgical Procedure
For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves three procedures. First, implants are
placed within your jawbone. For the first three to six months following surgery, the implants are beneath the
surface of the gums gradually bonding with the jawbone. You should be able to wear temporary dentures and eat a
soft diet during this time. At the same time, your dentist is forming new replacement teeth.
After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. Dr. Bohannan will uncover the implants and
attach healing collar(s). These healing collars will create a natural appearing contour of the gum tissue that
helps with hygiene and esthetics. This process takes about 3-6 weeks of healing. In some patients, this process is
performed at the time of implant placement. Dr. Bohannan will discuss that option with you.
Next either Dr. Bohannan or your restorative dentist will begin the process of placing a standard abutment (a
device that attaches to the implant that mimics a tooth that has been prepared for a crown), or an impression for a
custom made abutment. This abutment which will act as anchors for the artificial teeth. These posts protrude
through the gums. When the artificial teeth are placed these posts will not be seen. The entire procedure implant
placement, healing collar placement, abutment placement or creation and the placement of the final restoration
usually takes five to eight months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.
In patients who need extractions and/or bone grafts to prepare the bony foundation for future implants, will
have to expect a longer treatment plan. Removal of a tooth and placement of an immediate implant is possible is
some cases. Dr. Bohannan will discuss that option with you if you are a candidate for an immediate implant. For
most people, an extraction will be necessary prior to placing an implant. Normally, a tooth or teeth are extracted
and a bone graft is placed into the socket site to preserve the socket's bone width and height. If a graft is not
done, it is likely the site after an extraction will resorb and possibly cause a defect in the bone that could
require more surgery to repair. Contour loss the bone following extractions without grafts, can lead to less than
esthetic appearing results, difficult hygiene, compromised implant support, and can lead to premature loss of the
implant. As such, to ensure the best foundation for the implants, small socket grafts are preformed and the
procedure is called "alveolar ridge preservation." This typically has to heal about 4 months prior to placing an
implant. The you begin the normal implant placement procedure.
In patients who need more advanced bone grafting techniques like sinus lifts, ridge augmentation, distraction
osteogenesis, and other procedures, this can add 5-12 months to your treatment plan prior to placing implants. Dr.
Bohannan can discuss your specific needs at your consulation appointment.