Dental Implant Questions and Answers

What is permanent tooth replacement?

Permanent tooth replacement is a method of restoring missing teeth with natural-looking substitutes that are securely anchored to the jawbone with dental implants.

A dental implant is a small man-made titanium fixture that serves as the replacement for the root portion of a missing natural tooth. Dental implants can be placed in both the upper or lower jaws. Due to the biocompatible properties of titanium, a dental implant integrates with the bone and becomes a good anchor for the replacement tooth. Dental implants can be used in solutions for replacing single, multiple missing teeth or a complete full-mouth rehabilitation.

What’s wrong with dentures?

For more than 50 million Americans who are missing natural teeth, permanent tooth replacement offers a secure, comfortable, healthy, and better looking functional alternative to removable dentures or conventional bridgework. Ordinary removable dentures are a compromise at best.

Removable dentures sit on top of the gums, so they don’t feel like real teeth. And they don’t work like real teeth, either.

Most people with dentures have to limit the foods they eat. Studies have shown that complete dentures are only 25% as efficient as natural teeth. With dental implants, chewing is much more efficient, thereby decreasing potential for gastrointestinal problems.

Dentures can cause embarrassment–by slipping when you speak and by the bad-mouth odors they often harbor. They can cause gum irritation and pain. They take extra work to keep clean. And a drop on the floor or in the sink can mean cracked dentures…often at the most inconvenient time.

Worst of all, without the constant exercise of chewing with firmly anchored teeth, the bones and muscles in denture wearers’ jaws progressively deteriorate–making the wearer look prematurely old.

What about conventional bridgework?

Traditional conventional bridges must be attached to adjacent natural teeth. Doing this destroys the enamel of these healthy teeth. It can also irritate the nerve, requiring root canal treatment. And it can affect the gums, creating unsightly black lines at the base of teeth.

Worst of all, bridges are not a permanent solution. National studies indicate that fixed bridges supported by natural teeth last only five to seven years on average. Any tooth that has a dental restoration placed into it will eventually require replacement.

Implants restorations will not break down or decay. They provide a truly permanent solution.

How do dental implants work?

Replacing lost teeth with permanent implants was originally done in three steps. During the early years of dental implant technology, these three steps were performed months apart, forcing the patient to wear a removable prosthesis for a lengthy duration. Today, with Teeth In A Day® and Computer Guided Dental Implant Treatment treatment, these steps have been combined and treatment has been shortened and simplified.

On the day of implant placement, the doctors at Pi Dental Center will remove any unsightly teeth, periodontal disease and infected tissue. Then using the Brånemark Implant System, an appropriate number of implants, (the sub-structure of the prosthesis) will be gently placed within the bone. During this procedure, the laboratory team will prepare temporary but highly esthetic non-removable teeth especially adapted to each patient’s face and smile line. The patient leaves the office with a stable, cosmetically pleasing smile. Several months later when the implants have totally fused or integrated to the natural bone, the temporary prosthesis will be replaced with a stronger permanent one. The replacement teeth are carefully crafted to complement the natural teeth and unique characteristics of the face.

Is it just for people who need full dentures?

No. Anyone with missing teeth may benefit. The Brånemark System® can be used to replace a few missing teeth–or even just one. And because replacement teeth are anchored directly to the jawbone–rather than to adjacent teeth, as in conventional bridgework–there’s no need to compromise healthy teeth.

Does it hurt?

Very little. The minor surgical procedure required to insert the implants is surprisingly gentle and normally requires only local anesthesia. Afterwards, most patients have minimal discomfort that is easily controlled by mild pain medication.

Do replacement teeth require special care?

Yes, but only the special care everybody should normally give their teeth–daily brushing and flossing and regular cleaning by a Registered Dental Hygienist.

Pi Dental Center, Fort Washington, PA