If you lost a tooth in the past, fixed bridges or removable appliances were your only options for tooth replacement. Advances in dental technology now allow the option of a more natural feeling with dental implants. A dental implant is a biocompatible titanium screw that has a crown or bridge attached to its top.
The entire process is performed in several steps over the course of a few months. The first part of the procedure involves inserting a titanium screw into the jawbone socket left empty by the missing tooth. It is this post or metal screw that provides a base for the tooth replacement so it can function and look and feel like a natural tooth.
Following the surgery, a period of time is needed for the healing bone to grow around the implant (called osteointegration) to allow it to withstand biting and chewing forces, just like a healthy, natural tooth. The dimension of the space where the dental implant replacement tooth will be placed is analyzed to make sure the new tooth will fit. As the replacement tooth or crown is created, we take special care—some people call it being very picky—to make sure it matches the color of your other teeth perfectly. As a result, your new tooth will look and perform just like the one you lost. Unlike partial dentures, your dental implant won’t shift around, fall out, impede speech or have metal clasps or hooks that anchor it to your natural teeth. When implants are done, it is not necessary to drill on adjacent teeth like a conventional bridge. Implants need to be brushed and flossed in the same manner as your other teeth.
Dr. Gottlieb will spend as much time as you need to fully explain your options, the implant procedure, and exactly what you can expect from implant dentistry.
Dentures and Partial Dentures
The goal of Dr. Gottlieb and his staff is to keep your teeth healthy. Our first choice is to take every step possible to remedy tooth loss and gum damage. In some cases, however, it is necessary to make removable partial or complete dentures to replace missing teeth that cannot be saved by any other method.
Partial dentures are a solution when several teeth are missing. They prevent your other remaining teeth from moving and allow for more functional chewing surfaces. Partial dentures consist of replacement teeth that are attached to pink or gum colored plastic connected to a metal framework. This metal framework then is attached to the remaining teeth with wire hooks or clasps.
Full dentures are made when all remaining teeth are missing, either in your upper jaw, lower jaw, or both. It takes multiple appointments to make a full set of dentures. The process begins by getting precise impressions and measurements of your mouth. Once the dentures are fabricated, we take as much time as needed to ensure a proper fit and the accuracy of the denture. The denture will be inserted once you are satisfied with its fit, appearance and finish.
It is vital to remember that it is not unusual for sores to develop as your mouth adapts to the denture. If this condition develops, we simply will adjust your denture to make it as comfortable as possible. Over time, tissue and bone shrink and the denture may become loose or ill fitting. In these cases, a reline or rebase is done using the existing denture.
Last, remember these partial dentures are not your natural teeth; they almost always require an adaption period to resume your normal speaking and eating patterns.
Whereas partial dentures are removable, a fixed bridge is a permanent solution for a few missing teeth when the space is not large. Bridges also must be considered when extensive bone loss prohibits the placement of an implant. Bridges are crowns that are connected together and attached on either end to your existing teeth. Once the existing teeth or abutments are recontoured and impressions are taken, we send them to a dental laboratory to fabricate the bridge. The bridge, made of gold or porcelain baked onto a metal (gold) substructure, is constructed to fit your bite and the unique contour and color of your surrounding teeth. Implant bridges are made in a similar fashion, but are attached to metal implant posts instead of the natural teeth.