Q&A Topic: Dental Implants
Harrison Linsky, DDS, MD
Q: What are dental implants, and why do people need them?
A: When you lose a tooth due to an accident, infection, or periodontal disease, you face more than just aesthetic problems. The consequences of not replacing lost teeth include bone loss in the surrounding area, as well as tooth loss due to shifting of teeth of both the upper and lower jaw.
Dental implants replace teeth and repair smiles. Your Board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon will implant a small titanium post or posts into the jawbone. This first stage acts to replace your lost root. The jawbone then fuses or “osseosintegrates” to the implant surface after a few months of healing. Your dentist will later place a small post or abutment, which will be screwed into the implant. A crown can then be placed on the implant.
In addition to replacing single teeth, dental implants may be used as anchors to support a prosthesis that will restore multiple teeth. Implants can restore smiles, prevent bone deterioration and allow patients to eat almost anything. In most cases, they are the best treatment option to restore teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth.
Q: What should people expect during a consultation?
A: At our office, patients undergo a thorough evaluation that includes a clinical examination and radiographic studies. We have state-of-the-art technology, which includes a Cone Beam CT Scanner. This device allows us to view your jawbone in three dimensions. Not only can we determine how much bone you have, but our software allows us to do virtual surgery and place implants in your jawbone. This tool aids in planning and affords the patient the safest, most efficient, and best outcome possible. We also review the variety of modalities of anesthesia for implant placement.
Q: What happens during surgery?
A: You will be greeted by our staff and escorted into a surgical suite. Appropriate monitors will be placed for the chosen anesthesia. We will surgically place a small titanium post into the jawbone. The recovery is easier than it is when you have a tooth extracted. Healing time ranges from 3 to 6 months, while the bone fuses to the titanium. During this period, you can have a prosthesis fabricated, so you will never be left without teeth.
Q: What types of prosthetics can be used?
A: The nature of the tooth loss determines the prosthesis needed. If one tooth is lost, you would get a single tooth prosthesis. If you are missing multiple teeth, your oral and maxillofacial surgeon and dentist can review many options. For example, if you lost all of your teeth, you'd need a complete dental prosthesis. Some prostheses are “fixed”—only a dentist can take them out. Other prostheses are “removable,” which means you can take them out at home. Each treatment modality has strengths and weaknesses. It is our job to provide all the information you need to choose the right option.
Q: Why choose implants instead of faster restorative solutions, like bridges, dentures, or partials?
A: Without an implant, the structure of the mouth can change and lead to loss of adjacent teeth and bone. It’s like a “domino effect.” Bridgework is inferior to implant placement because of the need to cut down adjacent teeth to support the bridge. That process puts unneeded pressure on additional adjacent teeth. Using a denture or partial can be a good temporary, stopgap solution. However, over years, you will continue to lose bone, and implants will be more difficult to place. You may also need adjunctive procedures, such as more invasive bone grafting.
Dr. Linsky is a Board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon who received extensive training in dental implantology, bone grafting, dentoalveolar surgery, and jaw reconstructive procedures, and who has lectured both locally and nationally on various topics, including jaw reconstruction, dental implantology, and bone grafting.
Westchester Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery & Implantology
2975 Westchester Avenue, Suite G02
Purchase, NY 10577