Dental Implants

Q-What is implant dentistry?
A--Implant dentistry is the branch of dentistry that involves installing an artificial tooth into a patient's jaw in order to replace or restore a missing tooth.

Q-Is the concept of dental implants a new one?
A--Modern implantology began in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century.  However, popularity really grew in the 1980’s with the increased success of the titanium cylinder.  Since then, many brand name implants with minor variations have been approved.

Q-What factors contribute to the long term success of dental implants?
A--Long-term success depends on multiple factors.  Firstly, success will depend on the quality and quantity of bone.  The better the bone and the more available, the greater the chance of long-term success.  Secondly, the experience and ability of the dental surgeon will be a factor.  As with any surgical procedure, there is no substitute for the experience and individual talent of the dentist.  And finally, the quality of the restoration placed on top of the implant will play a big role in long-term success.  If the design of the implant crowns or overdentures are poorly constructed, and biting forces are not balanced, even the best-placed dental implant will have a compromised survival rate.

Q-Who can place a dental implant in my mouth?
A--A periodontist, an oral surgeon, or an implantologist places dental implants.  The periodontist and oral surgeon are teamed with a restorative dentist.  They will place the implants and then the patient will be seen by a restorative dentist for completion of the crowns or overlying appliance.  There will be two dentists during the course of treatment. An implantologist is trained in both dental implant surgery and restoration of the dental prosthesis.  An implantologist will do both the surgery and the restoration, and there will be only one dentist during the course of treatment.

Q-Who can restore the teeth on top of the dental implants?
A--A general dentist trained to restore implants, an oral implantologist, or a prosthodontist can restore teeth.  It is the choice of the patient to use a ‘one doctor approach’, whereby the oral implantologist does both the surgery and the restoration, or the ‘two doctor approach’, whereby the surgery and restoration are performed by two different clinicians.

Q-Are there any age limitations for dental implants?
A--No.  Any person at any age can have dental implants as long as there is enough bone available in which to place the implants.

Q-What might be some factors that would prevent me from being an implant candidate?
A--There are some medical factors that might prevent a person from being a good candidate for dental implants.  Some of these may be uncontrolled diabetes, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, parathyroid disorders, blood disorders, rare bone disorders or bone marrow cancer. Some physical factors may include insufficient or poor quality bone, low sinuses or nerve bundles.

Q-How often will I need to have my implants checked?
A--The success of your implants will depend greatly on how well you maintain them.  They will need to be professionally cleaned by a hygienist and examined by your implant dentist every three to four months.  This hygienist should be trained in the specific procedure of maintaining dental implants.  Also, brushing and flossing daily is absolutely necessary for long-term success.

Q-Is dental implant surgery painful?
A--No.  An effective local anesthetic is used during the surgery so that you do not have any discomfort during the placement of the implants.  The mild discomfort you might experience after surgery can be controlled with medications.

Q-When can I return to work after implant surgery?
A--You can go to work the next day, unless some particular surgical circumstance arises.  Your implant dentist will discuss all postoperative instructions with you.