Dental Implants
Implants Are A Versatile And Long-Lasting Approach For Tooth Replacement and Denture Support

If you've never been a dental implant patient before, the concept and process can be confusing and foreign as implants are not what most people think of as day-to-day dentistry. However, implants quickly became the gold standard for tooth replacement after being introduced to dentistry in the early 1980s due to how versatile and predictable they are. Dental implants are made of titanium, one of the most bio-compatible materials on the market, which means even if you have a metal allergy you are still likely to be an excellent candidate for implants. The implant is designed to function as the root of a tooth, meaning it is placed entirely in the jaw bone, just as your tooth's natural root is. The top portion of the implant can be a single tooth, a part of a bridge helping to replace multiple teeth, or a component designed to improve a denture or partial denture.

Dental Implants



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).

      Preparation for a Traditional bridge - THIS IS NOT Atlanta Dental Spa's work

      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.

Photo of an actual implant patient at Atlanta Dental Spa

Photo of an actual implant patient at our practice – one of his front four teeth is an implant.
  • 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.

no hybrid denture in place (notice collapsed lips and facial structure)

This is the same patient without her implant supported hybrid denture in place.
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.

On the left side of this image, notice how the lower jaw bone appears to have caved in and the upper tooth has dropped down. This causes difficulty in restoring the patient to a proper bite and can cause the need for orthodontics, root canals, extractions, aggressive tooth preparations, or it can preclude ideal treatment completely. Disclaimer: the redness around the upper teeth at the gum line is gingivitis and the patient is in active treatment to restore gum health.


  • 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.
Under One Roof - Our Multi-Discipinary Practice

Dental Implant Consultation and Evaluation

At 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
  • Consultation
  • CT scan
  • Surgical guide
  • Sedation and surgery
  • Tissue and bone development (with a temporary restoration)
  • Final restoration

Safety First! CT Scans, every time

The 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
The Importance of CT Scans for your Health

CT images of implant planning. (Right) View as if looking directly at the patient. (Left) View of left side of patient.

How Safe is a CT Scan?

Guided Surgery

Once we've developed a personalize treatment plan for you and decided on the positioning of the implants, we use surgical guides on as many procedures as possible to help ensure that every implant is placed exactly how we want it. These guides are made from the CT scans and are 3-D printed to have a very high accuracy for safety and predictability every time. Guides can be used for a variety of procedures, ranging from implant placement, to bone reduction, to proper positioning of restorative components such as “screw-in” or “hybrid” dentures.
Panoramic radiograph after extractions.
Surgical guide used to guarantee correct implant position
Same patient as above with two hybrid dentures attached to implants that were placed using the guide in the previous image

IV Sedation

Despite 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.
Managing Dental Anxiety with IV Sedation

PRF For Faster Healing

Platelet 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.
What is PRF and how does it jump-start my healing?

Thinking about your final tooth at every step

One 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
  • Pregnancy
  • Very young patients (Implants should only be placed after puberty is finished)
  • Immuno-compromised patients
  • Long-term steroid users
  • Osteoporosis
  • Kidney Disease
  • Bisphosphonate users

How long does it take?

The answer varies depending on the patient's individual scenario. We can provide a more qualified answer during the initial consultation. Bone healing takes roughly 3-6 months depending on a number of factors: age, gender, size of tooth, if infection was present, health history, etc. From the day an implant is placed to the day a tooth can be attached is usually around 4 months. There are plenty of instances where a tooth or arch full of teeth is attached to implants the very same day the implants are placed. For individual teeth this is more common in the anterior portion of the mouth where the biting forces are weaker and it is safer for the implant. If a tooth needs to be extracted prior to implant placement, that bone often needs to heal for 3-4 months before it is strong enough to support an implant. In these cases, the full timeline in many patients who need a tooth extracted is 8-10 months. Again, this varies greatly depending on the scenario. CT scans, intraoral exams, and bite assessments allow us to develop a timeline specific to each patient during their consultation.

Do Implants Hurt?

For any patient who has not had an implant before, pain is usually heavy on their mind. Fear not! It’s truly a daily experience for us to hear how easy the process was or how shocked someone is with the lack of discomfort and swelling. Bone itself has very little feeling. Gums have feeling, but discomfort in these areas is very easily controlled with mild medication. The same often holds true for implant surgeries, especially when they are CT guided which is the preferred method at Atlanta Dental Spa. When able to work in a small space, the discomfort is essentially limited to the tiny area of gums around where the new implant is, which is very easy to manage. With the help of IV sedation to make your visit a stress-free experience, we are able to give medication that help make the first 48 hours extra easy. The best part is your body produces that medication naturally, so no one is allergic to it and it’s very safe! We strive to make every procedure as comfortable as possible. An example of the step-by-step process. This example is a “snap-on” denture patient.
This patient’s teeth were failing and needed to be extracted. After extractions, a 3-D CT scan was taken to plan the implant positioning.
Upper jaw implant planning. (Left) This view is as if we are looking up at the roof of the patient’s mouth. (Right) This is the same view in the patient’s mouth showing implants in the correct positions as planned.
Lower jaw implant planning. (Left) This view shows the lower implant positioning on the CT scan. (Right) Same view of the patient’s lower jaw with implants in place.
(Left) This panoramic x-ray shows the implants healed in bone. (Right) The same happy patient with “snap-in” dentures that allow him to eat whatever he would like with confidence and comfort.
Dentures Aren’t a Life Sentence Any More!