In today’s society, the beauty of one’s teeth has much to do with one’s overall appearance. A person can be well-dressed and well-mannered but if he or she is missing teeth, the effects are spoiled. This trend is set, to some degree, by actors and actresses on television and in movies, all of whom seem to have perfect white teeth. By looking at “before and after” images of these actors, we see that it’s cosmetic dentistry that has given them these perfect smiles. If they had been missing any teeth, chances are very good that they had chosen dental implants as permanent replacements.
Prior to dental implants being refined to their current effectiveness, a dental patient could only choose from bridges or dentures to replace missing teeth. In the last couple of decades, however, the technology and materials used for dental implants have been refined to the point of great success for the patient.
An Alliance Between an Oral Surgeon and Your General Dentist
Proper placement of an implant requires a close alliance between your regular dentist and a trained and experienced oral surgeon. The oral surgeon is the one trained to place the implant—a titanium replacement for the root of your missing tooth. First, he will make an incision in the gum and then drill a placement hole in the bone of the jaw. A titanium implant is then placed in this hole and a cap is placed over it to protect the area while healing takes place. The gum is closed and the jawbone is given time to heal and bond with the implant.
The oral surgeon will carefully monitor your healing and ensure you are ready to take the next step. Once the bone has healed fully, your dentist will prepare the replacement tooth that will be anchored on the implant. First, an abutment will be created—a support and attachment point for the replacement tooth. Then a replacement tooth, made from a fine quality porcelain, will be created to match your other teeth. This replacement will then be carefully anchored into place.
There are many, smaller steps to this process that ensure your replacement tooth fits exactly in the space of the missing tooth and that the new foundation of this tooth (the implant and the abutment) are in the exact right position and angle for perfect and long-lasting function.
Dental implants are the perfect choice for tooth replacement because they look and feel just like your natural teeth. You won’t have to worry about removing or cleaning dentures, ever. And with an implant, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth are preserved in full. If you were to choose a bridge, those teeth would need to be partly cut away to allow a bridge to be anchored on top of them.
Choosing the Right Oral Surgeon
The most critical point of success for an implant is the correct placement and healing of the implant itself. If there is not enough bone for safe placement of the implant, then the bone must be built up in the area first. Your oral surgeon must have the training and experience to perform both procedures.
Dr. Virginia Lee has been specializing in oral and dental surgery for nearly two decades. She has extensive experience helping patients regain a normal appearance and function after tooth loss or even severe oral trauma. This breadth of experience helps her determine the best way to ensure your success after dental implant placement.
If your dentist is recommending dental implants for missing teeth, contact the Capital Oral & Facial Surgery Center to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Lee. With our help, a beautiful and permanent smile will be in your future.