The dental implant procedure is a safe and
permanent alternative to bridges and dentures as a replacement for missing
teeth. Periodontists
(specialists in gums and the bone structures that support your teeth) can
perform the procedure on anybody who is missing one or more teeth, as long as
they are in good health and have generally good oral hygiene.

In the 1950’s, Professor Per-Ingvar Branemark discovered that
living bone can fuse with titanium oxide to become an inseparable combined
structure. This is known as osseointegration, and it was the discovery that
paved the way for dental implants. Essentially, dental implants are small
titanium cylinders that are inserted into the jawbone where the missing tooth
is. The titanium acts as the root of the tooth, and once it fuses to the bone,
it becomes a permanent anchor for a false tooth that looks, feels, and works
exactly like your natural teeth.

The procedure for dental implants requires multiple sessions,
and can typically take around 18 months to complete. Despite the amount of
time, and the level of involvement with the jawbone and gums, it is generally
considered to be a very safe procedure. When it comes to the implants
themselves, there are two types of dental implants: endosteal and

Endosteal Dental Implants

Endosteal implants are the most common type of dental implants
used for the procedure, and are generally used for patients who have no special
circumstances or prohibitive conditions. In other words, if you are healthy
overall and don’t have any complications or other factors affecting your oral health,
your periodontist will likely use endosteal implants.

Endosteal implants are usually shaped like screws, cylinders,
or blades. They are surgically implanted directly into the jawbone during phase
one of the procedure. In the office, your periodontist will use local
anesthesia to numb the area before placing the implant. The implant is then
left alone for three to six months while osseointegration occurs and the
titanium fuses to your bone, thus ensuring a solid foundation for the
prosthetic tooth.

If you are concerned with the aesthetics of a missing tooth, or
difficulty chewing or speaking, ask your periodontist about temporary bridges
or dentures that can be used to cover the implant during phase one. Phase two
of the implant procedure involves creating a new tooth that is attached to the
titanium anchor. An endosteal implant can hold one or more prosthetic teeth,
depending on your need.

Subperiosteal Dental Implants

Subperiosteal implants are an alternative to endosteal implants
for patients who would not otherwise be a candidate for traditional dentures.
Patients who have weaker jawbones, or who have minimum bone height (a shallow
jawbone that could not support an endosteal implants) may need subperiosteal

Subperiosteal implants are titanium frames that are fitted over the jawbone, as opposed to inserted
into it. They are implanted just below the gum tissue, and as the gums heal,
osseointegration occurs, fusing the frame to the bone. Metal posts attached to
the frame protrude through the gums, and this is where the prosthetic tooth is
mounted. The fused frame acts as an anchor in the same way that the endosteal
cylinders do.

As with endosteal implants, subperiosteal implants usually
require a two-phase process that occurs over several months: the placement of
the implant, followed by the mounting of the prosthetic tooth. However, recent
developments have lead to an alternative method for both types of implants.
Depending on the patient’s oral health, the number of teeth involved, and the
position of the teeth, your periodontist may be able to install the dental
implant in one whole piece, during a single session.

If you have fractured or missing teeth and are considering your
options, ask Dr. Linhart about dental implants. More often than not, you will
be a candidate for the procedure, which offers a convenient and lasting
solution to bridges or removable dentures. As with any surgical procedure,
there may be some risks involved, depending on your individual circumstances. Linhart Dentistry can work with you to assess all your options and determine the
best way to restore your smile.