The Surgical Procedure
For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures. First, implants are placed within the patient’s jawbone. For three to six months following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums, gradually bonding with the jawbone. Healing caps placed at the time of surgery should enable the patient to wear temporary dentures and eat a soft diet. Also during this time, the patient’s dentist forms new replacement teeth.
After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. Our doctors will uncover the implants and attach small posts (called abutments), which will act as anchors for the artificial teeth. These posts protrude through the gums, but are not seen once the artificial teeth are placed.
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, our doctors are able to place single stage implants. These implants do not require a second procedure to uncover them, but do require a minimum of six weeks to heal before artificial teeth are placed. In some situations, the implants can be placed at the same time as a tooth extraction, further minimizing the number of surgical procedures. Advances in dental implant technology have even made it possible, in select cases, to extract teeth and place implants with crowns at one visit. This procedure, called immediate loading, greatly simplifies the surgical process.
Who Actually Performs the Implant Placement?
Implants are a team effort between an oral & maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. While our doctors perform the actual implant surgery (plus the initial tooth extractions and bone grafting if necessary), the restorative dentist fits and makes the permanent prosthesis. The dentist will also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process.
What Types of Prostheses are Available?
A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing; 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 the upper or lower jaw.
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The number of implants varies depending upon which type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended. A removable prosthesis (over denture) attaches to a bar or ball-in-socket attachments, whereas a fixed prosthesis is permanent and removable only by the dentist.
Drs. Bufalini and Booth perform in-office implant surgery in a hospital-style operating suite, thus optimizing the level of sterility. Inpatient implant surgery is for patients who have special medical or anesthetic needs, or for those who need extensive bone grafting from the jaw, hip or tibia.