About Dental Implants
The modern method of teeth replacement
Dentistry has come a long way since your grandmother’s set of badly fitting dentures as the only solution for her missing teeth. In the sixties, Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark invented the modern dental implant. With the advent of the dental implant, patients could experience a false tooth that was integrated into the jawbone and felt and acted just like a natural tooth.
At first, only people with the right oral conditions and a certain level of health were candidates for dental implants. Through five decades of research, new technology and procedures have been created which have made the dental implant procedure available for almost anyone, as well as safer and less invasive than ever before.
Dr. Jeffery Lee is a Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, and a specialist in dental implants and related procedures. He has nine years of advanced training in implantology, mouth reconstruction and oral surgery. Additionally, Dr. Lee is a medical doctor with cosmetic surgery training, which gives him extensive experience and expertise in human anatomy and surgical techniques.
What is a Dental Implant?
Natural-looking, acting and feeling teeth replacement
A dental implant is a prosthetic replacement for a missing tooth. Just like a natural tooth consists of a crown and root, so does a dental implant. Most dental implants are made of pure titanium, a metal that is particularly suited to osseointegration (integration into the bone).
Once the dental implant has been placed and has healed (integrated into the bone), the new tooth is ready to be attached. An “abutment” is attached to the implant and the new tooth, a dental crown, is placed onto the post of the abutment.
Where there is insufficient bone available to place the dental implant, bone grafting is used to augment the bone prior to placement. In some cases the sinus may be too close to where the implant needs to be placed and a sinus lift will be performed to provide more bone and move the sinus back into its proper position. Dr. Lee is highly trained and very adept at both procedures.Back to the top
Who are candidates for Dental Implants?
In the past, too little bone was an impediment to having implants placed. In current times, with superior bone grafting and bone reconstruction (rehabilitating a jawbone back to its ideal state) and with the precise nature of implant placement, most people can benefit from implants. Rare exceptions include people with bone that is not dense enough, such as those suffering from osteoporosis.
Previously, people with certain health conditions such as diabetes or habits such as smoking were considered too high of a risk for dental implant placement. Now, such people can be safely treated, although these conditions reduce the success rate of the procedure as the patient has less healing capability. As an implant specialist, medical doctor, and a trained anesthesiologist, Dr. Lee is able to ensure your implant treatment is a total success.Back to the top
What are the different tooth replacement options with dental implants?
Dental implant treatment options can be broken down into:
- Single-tooth replacement. An isolated tooth is replaced with a dental implant.
- Multiple-teeth replacement. Each tooth is replaced with a single implant. Alternatively, teeth can be replaced with implant-supported fixed bridges. This is a more economical alternative for patients with several missing teeth in a row.
- Full arch replacement. A full arch (upper and/or lower teeth) can be replaced with a series of implants supporting a bridge as above, or with an implant-supported denture.
A denture can be supported with as little as two implants to stabilize it. The more implants supporting the dentures, however, the more stable the denture and the more natural it will look.
Unlike an implant-supported bridge, implant-supported dentures are removable and use plastic or acrylic teeth instead of the more natural-looking porcelain teeth used in a bridge.
Can there be any issues when getting dental implants?
While dental implant technology has come a long way since its inception, there is no substitute for training and experience. As a specialist, Dr. Lee sees implant cases performed by other dentists that need repair. Over the years he has discovered that the main area of failure is in osseointegration—the full integration of the titanium implant with the jawbone. This failure can occur because of various factors, including:
- Poor bone structure to begin with. The bone is too porous (not dense enough) to securely anchor an implant. This is handled by proper testing before deciding on treatment.
- Poor bone grafting. The bone is still too porous to securely anchor an implant after the placement of synthetic bone material.
- Drilling error. Such as overheating the bone or drilling the hole too big.
- Poor angulation of the dental implant. The implant can start to integrate in the beginning but the accumulated stress on the angled implant causes overload and the implant moves away from the bone. Poor angulation can also compromise the final aesthetics.
- Poor health. There are a small percentage of smokers or people suffering from chronic diseases who cannot heal as well as needed for implant treatment.
Implant surgery is a safe and time-tested procedure and any issues during the surgery itself are not likely to occur. Dr. Lee checks the patient’s medical history, any medications, and the patient’s oral condition to ensure a successful surgery.