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People with missing teeth are often embarrassed or frustrated by the discomfort and inconvenience of dentures. They complain of difficulty eating and are bothered by their appearance. More than 40 years ago Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark in Sweden developed dental implants which either serve as anchors for dentures or replace the roots of missing teeth.

The “implant” refers to a small titanium post that acts as substitute for the tooth root. They help preserve bony structure, preventing the deterioration that naturally occurs after a tooth is extracted. With precise surgical placement and adequate time for healing, the bone grows into the implant surface, creating a strong foundation on which the prosthesis (a crown, bridge or denture) is placed.

Good oral hygiene and regular appointments with your restorative dentist is essential for implant longevity. To get the best functional and esthetic outcome Dr. Young will work closely with your dentist to coordinate and customize your care.

The Surgical Procedure

For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures. First, implants are surgically placed into the bone. Typically the ideal time for this is 3-6 months after extraction of the tooth. For the next three months following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums as the bone gradually grows into the implant surface. You should be able to wear a temporary denture during this time.

After the bone has grown into the implant, the second phase begins. Dr. Young will uncover the implants and attach small temporary posts and allow the gums to heal around them. This is called “stage II surgery.” If no bone grafting is required there is typically very little recovery time after placement of the implants.

Surgical Advances

Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology and techniques, Dr. Young may be able to place “single stage” implants or “immediate” implants. Single stage implants do not require a second procedure to uncover them. Immediate implants can be placed at the same time as a tooth extraction – further minimizing the number of surgical procedures.

Dental Implant placement is a team effort between an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. While Dr. Young performs the implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary, the restorative dentist (your dentist or another dental specialist) fits and makes the permanent prosthesis. Your dentist will also make a temporary prosthesis if needed during the implant process.

What Types Of Prosthesis Are Available?

A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth – 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 (a fixed bridge or removable denture) replaces all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. 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 to special attachments; a fixed prosthesis is permanent and removable only by the dentist.

Most implant surgery is done in Dr. Young’s Non-Hospital Surgical Facility. This facility meets the most stringent requirements of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Alberta Dental College and Alberta Health Services. Inpatient hospital 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 lower leg. Please also see our section on “bone grafting.”

Are You A Candidate For Implants?

If you are considering implants, your mouth must be examined thoroughly and your medical and dental history reviewed. If you mouth is not ideal for implants, ways of improving outcome, such as bone grafting, may be recommended. Smoking and certain medical conditions such as poorly controlled diabetes or bisphosphonate use (e.g. Fosamax) can increase the risks of dental implant treatment. Dr. Young will discuss these with you at your consultation appointment.

What Type Of Anesthesia Is Used?

The majority of dental implants can be performed in the office under local anesthesia (freezing). More complicated cases or cases that need bone grafting may require an IV sedation or general anesthesia.

Do Implants Need Special Care?

Once the implants are in place, they can serve you well for many years but they still require care to keep them healthy including professional hygiene appointments with your general dentist.