When are dental implants placed?
Implants are often placed several months after extraction. At times, an implant may be placed immediately after extraction of a tooth. This may involve a little more risk, but it simplifies the process—you won’t have to wait for another appointment to place the implant. When infection or other problems with the bone are present, immediate implant placement is not the best treatment.
If your tooth has been missing for some time, the adjacent support bone is likely to grow thinner and shrink. This occurs because the root of the natural tooth has to be present to stimulate the bone. As much as one third of your jaw’s thickness can be lost in the year following tooth extraction. If you are missing enough bone, you may benefit from having additional bone grafted into the area. This ensures the implant will be adequately supported when it is placed in the jaw.
If I lost teeth due to periodontal disease, can I still have dental implants?
Definitely. Most patients present with adequate amounts of bone for dental implants. In some instances, however, more bone is needed before implants can be placed. There are predictable procedures to graft and regenerate the amount of bone needed for dental implants. Once sufficient amounts of new bone have been regenerated, enough dental implants can be placed to support a new dental prostheses.
But still, each mouth is different. How do you know I have enough bone for dental implants?
Dental x-rays and clinical exams help determine if enough bone exists to place the dental implants. Sometimes, in conjunction with a clinical examination, the dentist feels comfortable in proceeding with the placement of a dental implant. Often, though, more information is needed before making that determination.
Are there any dangers that I should be worried about, when having implants placed?
Yes. While implants are over 95% successful, the most important risks to be aware of are: infection, implant rejection, persistent numbness and pain.
What about infections from dental implant surgery?
Though rare, infections do occur. With regard to the dental literature, the verdict is not in as to whether every implant surgery should be covered with antibiotic therapy. In fact, the weight of evidence is against routine antibiotic coverage. However, the final decision in using antibiotics rests with each operator and their patients.
Can an implant be rejected?
Yes. Implants can be rejected, but not in the way we know “rejection” can occur in organ transplants, like with kidneys and hearts. We know dental implants are bio-compatible. There are no known allergic reactions to commercially-pure, titanium implants, which are the most prevalent kind used today. But failures do occur.
The failures we see in dental implants can be explained more in theory, than in fact. For instance, bacteria can contaminate implants. When this happens, an infection might cause the implant to be lost. Naturally, great efforts are taken to insure sterile conditions during implant procedures, from the way the implants are packaged to the hygienic conditions in the operating room.
Apart from the potential pitfalls, how long does it take for the implants to “work?”
Though it can vary for specific reasons, the general rule of thumb is that implants placed in the mandible (lower jaw) heal in 3-4 months, while the maxilla (upper jaw) takes 6-7 months. Augmenting the bone, performing sinus lifts, needing jaw reconstruction, etc., will lengthen healing periods. Remember, healing times are related to human biology. Healing can not be made to go any quicker than how we were intended to heal.
With all the things to worry about, how successful are implants?
Maybe this should have been the first question. But we feel strongly that the public should understand everything there is to know about implants. Implants placed by most periodontists and dental surgeons today, have a high degree of success. In fact, they are close to 95% successful.. These percentage may vary slightly from surgeon to surgeon and among implant types, but as a rule, titanium implant dental fixtures are predictably successful.
When an implant fails, can another be placed in the same spot?
Usually, yes. We often don’t understand why an implant fails. When it does, the implant is removed. If conditions are right, the site is prepared for another dental implant. Sometimes this can be done at the time the implant is removed. Other times, the surgeon feels it is better to try again only after a prescribed healing period. Regardless of when an implant is placed in the site of a failure, it meets with a high degree of success.