Dental implants

The loss of some or all of your natural teeth can have a significant impact on your life. It can affect not only your appearance and your confidence in social situations, but also your ability to speak and eat comfortably and without impediment.

A missing tooth can lead to significant structural damage in a few short months: it can cause neighbouring teeth to drift, bone support to be lost and other teeth to be damaged because they are absorbing more force than they should.

For most patients, the use of dental implants will be the best and most permanent way to replace a missing tooth.

How dental implants work

Dental implants are designed to provide the foundation for replacement teeth that can closely approximate the function and appearance of natural teeth. A dental implant is a small artificial root made out of titanium that is placed in the spot where a tooth is missing. As the bone heals and bonds to the titanium, it creates a strong foundation for artificial teeth.

Thanks to dental implants, patients who have lost teeth can usually regain their ability to eat, speak and smile with confidence, knowing not only that their new teeth are stable, but also that they blend in with their natural teeth and preserve the contours of their face.

Getting a dental implant

If you and your dentist decide to proceed with dental implants as a treatment for your clinical situation, this is the process you can typically expect:

  • After the appropriate diagnostic tests have been completed, we usually freeze the surrounding gums and make a small hole in the bone for the implant to be inserted.
  • The tiny titanium implant is placed in the hole. Generally speaking, placing the implant is easier than removing the tooth that is going to be replaced.
  • Once the implant has been placed, we wait for three to four months to allow the bone to heal and fuse to the implant before we insert the final crown.

If it has been a while since your natural tooth came out, we may find that some of the natural bone has shrunk away. If that’s the case, we can help your body regrow some of the missing bone by doing a graft. Using 3D imaging, we can assess where and how much bone we need to replace. Patience is required during this process because your body will need to heal for several weeks or even months. To learn more, please read the bone and soft tissue grafting section below.

Preserving the life of your dental implant

The goal is for your dental implants to last the rest of your life, but occasionally an implant may need to be removed. Most implants are for the long term, provided they are maintained with diligent care at home and regular professional dental care. Crowns can wear out over the years—like they do on natural teeth—but they can be replaced easily using the same implant.

Bone and Soft Tissue Grafting

Trauma, infection or age can cause a person to lose soft tissue or bone in their mouth. In some cases, this missing bone or tissue will need to be replaced to restore function and aesthetics through a process called grafting. Types of grafts that occur in dentistry include: replacing gum tissue when it has receded, grafting bone to replace missing bone, and grafting when a tooth has been extracted to preserve bone and facial contour.

Materials used for grafting

Depending on the circumstances, your own bone or gum tissue may be used in a graft, or we may use animal products, synthetics or donor tissue from tissue banks. For bone grafts, the most commonly used material is freeze-dried mineralised bone aggregate. This is made from donor bone which has had the cells and proteins removed, essentially leaving the minerals and structure. Your body will grow new bone into it, and eventually this new bone that your body has generated will replace the donor bone.

If you are getting a dental implant and also require a graft, you may be able to get both procedures done in the same visit. If it is possible, we will combine treatments to save you time and have you back to health sooner. As always, this will be determined by an assessment of your individual situation.

After your bone or tissue graft

The success of your graft will depend largely on how your body heals. You can improve the outcome by following post-operative instructions from your dental team and maintaining good overall health. Regular smokers should keep in mind that smoking is a habit that will negatively affect your body’s ability to heal well and in a timely manner.

Contact Affinity Dental Sherwood Park today to learn more about dental implants and grafting procedures.