Dental implants are artificial roots and teeth (usually titanium) that are surgically placed into the upper or lower jaw bone by a dentist or Periodontist – a specialist of the gums and supporting bone. The teeth attached to implants are very natural looking and often enhance or restore a patient’s smile! Dental implants are very strong, stable, and durable and will last many years, but on occasion, they will have to be re-tightened or replaced due to normal wear. Reasons for dental implants: Replace one or more missing teeth without affecting adjacent teeth. Resolve joint pain or bite problems caused by teeth shifting into missing tooth space. Restore a patient’s confident smile. Restore chewing, speech, and digestion. Restore or enhance facial tissues. Support a bridge or denture, making them more secure and comfortable. What does getting dental implants involve? The process of getting implants requires a number of visits over several months. X-rays and impressions (molds) are taken of the jaw and teeth to determine bone, gum tissue, and spacing available for an implant. While the area is numb, the implant will be surgically placed into the bone and allowed to heal and integrate itself onto the bone for up to six months. Depending on the type of implant, a second surgery may be required in order to place the “post” that will hold the artificial tooth in place. With other implants the post and anchor are already attached and placed at the same time. After several weeks of healing the artificial teeth are made and fitted to the post portion of the anchor. Because several fittings may be required, this step may take one to two months to complete. After a healing period, the artificial teeth are securely attached to the implant, providing excellent stability and comfort to the patient. You will receive care instructions when your treatment is completed. Good oral hygiene, eating habits, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new implant. Prosthodontics is the specialized field of dentistry concerned with diagnosing, planning and executing restorative and cosmetic treatments. Dentists who choose to specialize in prosthodontics must complete three or four more years of dedicated training following dental school. A prosthodontist is in essence an architect, who formulates a comprehensive treatment plan and informs the patient as to what is possible. Missing or defective teeth can be extremely detrimental to self-esteem and self-confidence. Using the latest technology, a prosthodontist is able to fill these gaps with functional, natural-looking teeth that boost confidence and enhance the smile. There are many reasons why a prosthodontist may be consulted, including (but not limited to): Creation of partial or full sets of dentures. Desire to whiten the teeth or improve the aesthetics of the smile. Filling gaps created by one or more missing teeth. Interest in dental implants. What treatments can the prosthodontist perform? Prosthodontic treatments are designed to be functional, long lasting and pleasing to the eye. These procedures can only be completed on generally healthy teeth. Issues like gum disease need to be controlled before prosthodontic treatments can begin. There are an ever-increasing number of hi-tech prosthodontic treatments available including the following: Dental Implants – Implants are designed to replace the natural teeth in the best possible way. Titanium roots are implanted in the jawbone in the same way as natural tooth roots. Implants look and feel the same as natural teeth. Dental Veneers – Veneers are porcelain/ceramic covers that are bonded to the natural teeth. Veneers can instantly solve problems like uneven teeth, stained teeth, and chips and damage caused by general wear and tear. Dental Crowns – Prosthetic crowns are generally made from porcelain, metal or a combination of the two. They have been designed to mimic the natural crown (surface of the tooth) and can last for up to a decade, and possibly longer. Dental Bridges – Conventional and cantilever bridges are used to support a prosthetic tooth. The natural teeth can support the bridge if they are in good condition, or dental implants may be used as anchors. Complete Dentures – A complete set of dentures can be created for people who have no teeth due to gum disease or trauma. Complete dentures restore functionality to the mouth and make chewing and speaking easier. Partial Dentures – Where many teeth have been lost, removable or fixed partial dentures can prove to be an excellent option. They enhance the aesthetics of the smile in addition to improving chewing abilities. What other problems can a prosthodontist treat? In addition to performing the treatments described above, the prosthodontist is also adept at treating problems with the jaw (TMJ), alleviating severe snoring, managing sleep apnea, and reconstructing the teeth following oral cancer treatments. Generally, the prosthodontist works in combination with other dental health professionals to ensure the best possible restorative results are achieved. If you have questions or concerns about prosthodontics, please contact your prosthodontist.