Dental Implants


Dental implants are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look and function like 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. Dental implant treatment can be a life altering experience enabling patients to smile, speak, eat, and interact with confidence.

What Are Dental Implants?

The implants themselves are titanium posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors are analogous to tooth roots. They serve as the foundation for crowns. After several months,the bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Implants also prevent bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.

The Surgical Procedure

For some patients, the placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures or stages. 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 resume a normal diet within a couple of weeks.

After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second minor surgical intervention occurs. The implants are uncovered and small posts that protrude through the gums are screwed into the implants. Ultimately, when the artificial teeth are placed, these posts will not be seen. The entire procedure usually takes six to eight months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.

Dental Implant Illustration
Time is allowed for bone to heal and grow around the dental implant. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. A support post (abutment) is then placed on the implant and a new replacement tooth (crown) is placed on top of the abutment. In many cases a temporary replacement tooth can be attached to the implant immediately after it is placed. If all of your teeth are missing, a variety of treatment options are available to support the replacement teeth.

A depiction of the upper jaw with all normal teeth
1. Normal
An example of the upper jaw missing a tooth with the jaw bone unhealed
2. Tooth Loss
A representation of a healed upper jaw bone after losing a tooth
3. Healed Bone
A digital representation of the initial dental implant placed in the jaw bone
4. Implant Placed
A representation of the healed jaw bone after placement of the dental implant
5. Healing
An example of a fully restored tooth using a dental implant
6. Implant Restored

Implant Surgery, One Stage

In some cases, dental implants do not need to be left under the gums to heal. Instead the metal posts which screw into the implants are placed at the time of surgery. These metal posts (healing abutments) protect the head of the implant during the healing phase. Once the implants have integrated into the bone, your dentist can proceed with making the tooth/teeth. This typically will occur 3-6 months after the initial implant surgery.

Immediate Teeth

Sometimes teeth may be placed on the implants right after the surgery. This depends on various factors such as the bone quality, stability of the implant, and the patient’s bite. Dr. David will discuss this with you at your consultation visit.

Implant Surgery and Dental Extractions

There are certain situations when implants can be placed at the same time as a tooth extraction further minimizing the number of surgical procedures. The feasibility of this is determined by Dr. David at your pre-surgical consultation visit.

“Implant Minded” Dental Extractions

The removal of a tooth, in essence, is the first step to the ultimate placement of a dental implant. The dental extraction technique is therefore crucial with regard to the outcome of bone status. It is natural that bone shrinks once a tooth is removed. Sometimes Dr. David will recommend placing a bone graft material into the tooth socket to help minimize bone shrinkage. This is not always required and is therefore evaluated on an individual basis.Dr. David uses a minimally invasive technique to remove teeth; the dental extraction is performed using a flapless (without raising the gum tissue) approach. In addition, bone is NOT removed during the extraction process. This is essential to preserve bone and allow for the best possible result of the healed socket. Dr. Lesley David consistently performs “implant minded” dental extractions.

Dental implant placement is a team effort between an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. While Dr. David performs the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary, the restorative dentist (your dentist) fits and makes the final prosthesis. In some instances, Dr. David will screw teeth immediately to the implants once they are placed. These are temporary teeth as opposed to the final more permanent prosthesis your dentist will fabricate.

Dental Implants Presentation

To provide you with a better understanding of dental implants, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to dental implants are discussed.

Dental Implants Presentation

What Types Of Prosthesis Are Available?

A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth each prosthetic tooth attaches to its own implant. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) can replace two or more teeth and may require only two or three implants. A complete dental prosthesis (fixed bridge) replaces all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. The number of implants varies depending upon which type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended. A removable prosthesis (overdenture) attaches to a bar or ball in socket attachments and can be removed by the patient.A fixed prosthesis, however,is removable only by the dentist.

Why Dental Implants?

Once you learn about dental implants, you finally realize there is a way to improve your life. When you lose several teeth whether it’s a new situation or something you have lived with for years chances are you have never become fully accustomed to losing such a vital part of yourself.

Dental implants can be your doorway to renewed self-confidence and peace of mind.

A Swedish scientist and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark, developed this concept for oral rehabilitation more than 35 years ago. With his pioneering research, Dr. Branemark opened the door to a lifetime of renewed comfort and self-confidence for millions of individuals facing the frustration and embarrassment of tooth loss.

Why Select Dental Implants Over More Traditional Types Of Restorations?

There are several reasons: 1) Dental implants are more conservative than conventional bridge work. This is because when an implant is used to replace a missing tooth, the space of the missing tooth itself is solely considered. However, when a bridge is used to replace a missing tooth, the teeth beside the space are cut down in order to accommodate crowns. Thus, perfectly healthy teeth are sacrificed. 2) Removing a denture or a partial at night can be inconvenient 3) Depending on the amount of bone resorption (loss), it may be difficult or even impossible to have dentures which fit securely. 4) Dental implants help to preserve bone.

Are You A Candidate For Implants?

If you are considering implants, your mouth must be examined thoroughly and your medical and dental history reviewed. There are numerous options for patients regarding dental implants given the advances which have occurred since the advent of dental implant treatment. Patients who have previously been informed that they do not have enough bone for treatment may indeed be candidates for implant treatment today even without bone grafting.

What Type Of Anesthesia Is Used?

Dental implant treatment is often performed under local anesthesia. Sedation or general anesthesia is also available. The best option for each patient on an individual basis will be discussed with Dr. David.

Do Implants Need Special Care?

Once the implants are in place, they will serve you well for many years if you take care of them and keep your mouth healthy. This means taking the time for good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) and keeping regular appointments with your dental specialists.