What Are Dental Implants?
A natural tooth consists of a root and a crown. If you compare natural teeth to implant-supported replacement teeth, you’ll see they have the same basic parts. Both have a crown (the visible part used to chew food). Both have a root that holds the tooth securely under the gum and is anchored into the jaw. The difference is that the implant is made of titanium – the same time-tested material used by orthopedic surgeons for artificial joints. When you lose a tooth, you lose both the root and the crown. To replace the tooth, the surgeon first replaces the root with a small dental implant.
For a single dental implant, time is usually allowed for bone to heal and grow around the dental implant. (Sometimes, such as for a front tooth, the dental implant is immediately restored with a temporary crown, but care must be taken to avoid chewing pressure on the crown!) The bone bonds with the titanium during the integration process, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. A connecting piece (abutment) is then placed on the implant and a new replacement tooth (crown) is secured on top of the abutment. If all of your teeth are missing, a variety of fixed or removable treatment options are available to support the replacement teeth.
“Don’t be afraid to Smile.”
For years I’d felt like a part of my body was missing — because my teeth were. My dentist told me that dental implants would make me feel and look a lot better. OK, I said. Now, I’m thrilled. I can smile, eat anything, and enjoy a good laugh with my friends.
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Dr. Culberson is able to place single stage implants. These implants do not require a second procedure to uncover them, but do require a time for osseointegration before artificial teeth are placed. There are even situations where the implant can be placed at the same time as the tooth extraction – further minimizing the treatment time and the number of surgical procedures.
Dental implant placement is a team effort between Dr. Culberson and your family dentist. Dr. Culberson performs the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary. The restorative dentist (your dentist) fits and makes the permanent prosthesis. Your dentist will also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process.