Where one or several teeth are lost, the missing teeth have to be replaced as soon as possible. If the gaps are not filled, it leads to bone loss in the area of the missing tooth, and as a result the shape of the face can change and the person may look older his or her age. Adjacent teeth can tilt towards the empty spot and create a slit, causing chaos in the bite. If the gap created by the lost tooth is too narrow, it can cause complications for inserting an implant or prosthesis. The empty space that was occupied by the missing tooth can change the bite and further result in headaches.
A tooth implant is a replacement of the tooth root which is manufactured from a strong, light and biologically compatible material, such as titanium, zirconium or an alloy thereof. An implant has a shape of a screw and is surgically inserted into the jawbone.
When deciding on the necessity of an implant, the patient’s dentist refers the patient to the oral and maxillofacial surgeon for a consultation. The surgeon individually evaluates each patient’s situation, which often is determined by the condition of the patient’s mouth, teeth and jawbone. A 3D (three-dimensional) X-ray is an integral part of the process of implants planning, which helps the specialist assess the configuration of roots, condition and density of bones, allowing for determining the implant’s direction, shape, length and diameter. During the consultation, the surgeon informs the patient about additional tests to be done and about the stages of the dental implant procedure.
Dental implant surgery is the first stage of the implant inserting procedure, during which a dental implant is inserted into the bone under local anesthesia. The implant has a porous surface which allows the implant to grow into the bone within 3-8 months, this period differing for each person. One or several implants can be inserted at the same time. The surgeon may prescribe a short course of antibiotics after the dental implant surgery. The patient may experience slight, short-term swelling and a slight pain in the place where the surgery was done.
Once the implant has grown into the bone, the patient is ready for the second stage – the implant uncovering procedure. During this stage, the gum is open and gum filler is added to the internal thread of the implant. The gum filler will create a gum contour needed for a smooth transfer of the implant screw and abutment into the crown. The gum filler has to be kept in place for about two weeks for the gum to heal and form a desired shape. So, in approximately two weeks after uncovering the implant, a dental prosthesis can be attached. Each patient’s situation is assessed individually, and installation of the prosthesis sometimes is possible during one visit.
Synthetic bone grafting
Where a tooth is lost, the underlying bone is not any more stimulated by the pressure and bone degradation (resorption) occurs overtime in the empty place, resulting in bone loss. If the patient wants to restore the lost tooth with a tooth implant, the jaw X-ray should be performed prior to the dental implantation to assess whether the patient has enough bone for the procedure. If the amount of bone is insufficient, an artificial bone grafting is (transplantation) should be considered. Grafting is a procedure during which an artificial bone obtained from a natural or synthetic material is inserted in the respective place. The outcome of the procedure is the bone tissue which is sufficient to support a dental implant.
Sinus lift is a procedure whereby the amount of bone is increased by lifting the membrane in the area next to the nose. Sinus lift is performed only on the upper jaw if the patient does not have sufficient bone mass in the upper jaw sides. First, the surgeon makes a small incision in the lateral wall of sinus and pulls the gum tissue to the necessary height. The created space is filled with grafting material or a membrane to ensure the maximum bone mass.