Implants are now the gold standard in tooth replacement for a variety of great reasons:
- No detriment to neighboring teeth: Traditionally, if missing a tooth, the dentist would make a bridge. To fabricate a bridge, the neighboring tooth on either side of the space needs to be ground down to allow for a 3-unit bridge (3 crowns fused together that rest on the two teeth). If the surrounding teeth did not need crowns then this process removes a major portion of healthy tooth unnecessarily. Bridges set those teeth up for difficulties in the future, such as need for a root canal, development of cavities in hard to fix areas (you can't floss between the teeth when fused together), and fracture (we're asking two teeth to do the work of three, and the supporting teeth have been whittled down).
- Can look and function like natural teeth: Individual implants mimic a natural tooth better than any other option in dentistry. And unlike bridges, partials, or dentures, the strength of implant biting is often stronger than a natural tooth.
- Designed to be a long-term fix: Although bridges have been successfully used in dentistry for hundreds of years, they generally shorten the lifespan of the teeth that support them and often need to be replaced multiple times over the years. Implants as we know them were introduced in the early 1980s, which means that our current research is only about 35 years old at this point. Over the last three decades implants have changed and improved greatly to be very predictable restorations. Because they are attached to a human body nothing can be guaranteed, but we anticipate implants that are well maintained will last many decades, and hopefully for life.
- Prevent bone loss and tooth movement: Without stimulation, our bone atrophies and shrinks away. When a tooth is removed, the bone that used to support that tooth will resorb over time, creating defects or dents, changes in face shape, and collapse of the cheeks and lips to make the patient appear older than they are.
When implants are placed, the forces from chewing are transmitted through the restoration into the bone. These forces stimulate the bone so that it maintains density and volume to support the implant, just as the bone surrounding natural teeth does. Also, our teeth prefer to have partners: if a tooth is removed, the opposing tooth will often grow out of the bone because there is no contact. Teeth will also tip or move forward into areas were teeth are missing which can alter and disrupt proper biting.
- Versatility: The most common image of a dental implant is one supporting a single crown, but they can be used in a variety of indications. Implants placed in multiples are able to support bridges to maximize the number of teeth replaced with a smaller number of implants. When a patient has lost bone, four or more implants can be placed to support up to a full arch prosthesis that replaces teeth and the bone that used to support them. Partial and complete denture patients benefit greatly from implants, as snaps can be placed on top of the implants instead of crowns and bridges. These snaps help the denture fasten in place and provide a major improvement in stability, comfort, chewing forces, and phonetics. A set of complete dentures can only provide about 25% of the chewing forces that a mouth of healthy teeth can. By adding in just two implants at the lower canine positions, the patient improves to about 60% of their previous chewing ability. With every additional implant those forces increase, and the dentures can be designed to be smaller and less cumbersome which also improves taste, comfort, and aesthetics.
- Can be changed or updated: The top portion of the implant can be changed or updated throughout the patient's life. If an implant was first placed to replace a single missing tooth, it can be swapped out to help support a bridge if nearby teeth are later extracted. If many or all of a patient's teeth end up being removed, the crown or bridge can be changed to a snap to help support a partial or complete denture. This ability to modify an implant helps the patient to continue to benefit from the implant as they age and indications change.
- The entire process under one roof: In many offices, if you need an implant, you will be required to travel to outside offices for special x-rays, additional evaluations, the actual implant placement surgery, and multiple post-operative check-ups before you're able to receive your restoration. The Atlanta Dental Spa team understands that our patients greatly prefer not having to go through that ordeal, and we've designed our practice so that we can provide every step of the implant process in our office. All of our doctors are very comfortable restoring implants.
Dental Implant Consultation and EvaluationAt the beginning of your dental implant journey you will complete an oral evaluation and consultation. The doctor will use a state-of-the-art Cone Beam CT 3D scan, and evaluate your bone to make sure you are a good candidate for dental implants. A virtual surgery can be done on a computer to plan exactly what size, position, depth, and angulation your implant should be, which helps determine if you require or would benefit from any bone or gum grafting before or during implant placement. At this point we're able to discuss all of your treatment options and indications as well as answer any and all questions you may have. Step by Step of Process
- CT scan
- Surgical guide
- Sedation and surgery
- Tissue and bone development (with a temporary restoration)
- Final restoration
Safety First! CT Scans, every timeThe Atlanta Dental Spa team is always planning for your safety and comfort, which comes in many forms during the implant process. The 3-D planning process using CT scans is critical. You are a three-dimensional being, and any implant surgery should be planned in a 3-D manner to safely avoid important anatomical structures like your sinuses and nerves. Proper planning = Predictability
IV SedationDespite all of these safety features, we understand the thought of implant placement can give patients anxiety, which is why we encourage our patients to take advantage of IV sedation. This makes the surgery a comfortable and forgettable experience. IV sedation is a very safe method of anesthesia, where the medications are short-acting and reversible. You'll feel like yourself again shortly after the procedure, and in case of emergency we can wake you up immediately, which is not the case in many general anesthesia procedures. May patients don't realize that sedation was brought into dentistry to make treating patients with any type of cardiac condition or history (high blood pressure, heart surgery, heart attack, or stroke) much safer, as pain, anxiety, and blood pressure are all much easier to control when relaxed and sedated. Our patients report only remembering the beginning of the appointment, then being helped into their car after their procedure.
PRF For Faster HealingPlatelet Rich Fibrin (PRF) can be incorporated into just about every oral surgery procedure: wisdom teeth, tooth extractions, implants, bone grafts, and sinus lifts. Using PRF speeds up how quickly the surgical site heals by stimulating the body to accelerate it’s normal processes. This causes soft tissue (gums) to close faster and it has Bone Morphogenic Proteins (BMPs) that help create new bone quickly. PRF is not just a product, it is a product of YOU. A small amount of blood is drawn, just like giving a sample at your physician’s office, and that blood is centrifuged to concentrate the healing molecules into a clot in the test tube. The clot can be used by itself, mixed into bone grafts, or as a covering to protect the surgical site. This clot is purely you, it’s just the best parts of you, so you cannot be allergic and it jump starts the healing process.
Thinking about your final tooth at every stepOne of the most common complaints from dentists who do not place implants in their office is that when a patient is referred out, they return with an implant in a different place than they were envisioning, which creates difficulties when making the final prosthesis. From the surgeon's standpoint, they're always trying to do their best with the given scenario of where the patient's bone is located. Sometimes the surgeon has to make a judgment call on changing the position of the implant, and they do not have the luxury of asking the restoring dentist's opinion during the surgery. At Atlanta Dental Spa, our surgical dentists consult with the restoring dentist throughout the process; from initial treatment planning, to the surgical procedure itself, to staging of restorations and tissue development, and during the final restoration fabrication when choosing design, materials, etc. Having a restorative mindset is critical so that our goals align with yours to give you the smile you desire.
Pop Quiz: Which of the following patient(s) have an implant as one of their front teeth?
Who is a candidate?May of our patients report they'd been told by other dentists that they are not candidates for dental implants. These days, it’s fairly rare to be a patient who cannot have implants. One limiting factor is loss of bone that will support the implant, but with advances in technology and understanding we can now do bone grafting as a routine aspect of tooth replacement.
Who is a candidate?
- Almost everyone!
- Denture patients
- Patients with missing or failing teeth
The main demographics and reasons for not placing implants:
- Smokers and tobacco users (lowers success rates, but implants are often still a good option)
- Poorly controlled diabetics
- Very young patients (Implants should only be placed after puberty is finished)
- Immuno-compromised patients
- Long-term steroid users
- Kidney Disease
- Bisphosphonate users