A dental implant is essentially an artificial tooth root. The most common type used in this country today is the “root form” implant. Typically it is fairly shaped like a tooth root. Those sold in this country have been all metallic, being either of commercially pure titanium or a titanium alloy. They are all basically similar, the differences being small variations in size, surface characteristics and in the attachments parts.
The subperiosteal implant (to the left) is used for our seniors who have no lower teeth and a very thinned mandible. This implant is custom made and is placed directly on the jawbone and under the gum tissue. A lower denture is worn then on the support-connecting bar. The denture is completely supported by the implant and off the tissue entirely. Thus, there are no spots to rub on the gums. The teeth are secured with small clips or snaps and are as close to having your own teeth as can be. It is performed in two visits approximately 10 days apart. You will walk out with your secure denture at the second surgery.
Dental implants can be used alone or in multiple units to solve a variety of problems. Advanced procedures are at times needed to make certain changes. These can be:
- Bone augmentation-with either artificial substitutes or your own bone
- Bone expansion-also called widening. This is to make the ridge wider by creating a surgical fracture.
- Barrier membranes-these are biologic membranes that aid in closure of tears or breaks in the tissue. The following shows the basic steps to the actual implant rehabilitation.
Here are the basic steps for the placement of a dental root-form implant:
A typical basic application of this technique is to secure a “floating” lower denture. As you can see in the pictures the implant is well embedded in the jaw and the upper supports hold the denture fast. You decide when your teeth come out, not them.
From beginning to end, there are two surgical visits, the initial placement and then the recovery. The time between surgeries is approximately 3 months for the lower arch and six for the upper arch, owing to the differences in bone composition. Once the final healing has taken place the “abutments” (connecting pieces) are attached and the denture constructed. That time is approximately 6 weeks. All in all you have about 4.5 months of time invested.