A dental implant is a small fixture that is surgically inserted and fused inside the jawbone to take the place of a missing tooth’s root. Essentially, an implant functions as an artificial root to hold a bridge or replacement tooth in place. The merging of the jawbone and dental implant is referred to as “osseointegration”. Once the dental implant is merged with the jawbone, the artificial tooth can stably exist on its own. A crown is later placed to make the prosthetic tooth look real.
Implants are used to replace one tooth or a set of teeth. Their purpose is to provide or restore tooth function and make one’s overall dental appearance more aesthically pleasing. Current records show that dental implants have a 98% success rate.
Full-arch fixed implant bridges—often referred to as all-on-four dental implants - is a prosthetic surgical technique that describes a procedure aimed to support the entire prosthesis using only four dental implants. The process of using four dental implants to function as a foundation for a full fixed bridge has been documented as early as 1977. It has been used on dental patients with broken down, decayed or compromised teeth caused by gum disease. The procedure places four implants in the area where there is higher bone density, specifically the anterior maxilla or mandible. Though there are only four implants, it can support ten to fourteen teeth. The implants are surgically placed and immediately on the same day a prosthesis is inserted and connected to the implants. As healing takes place, the implants become part of the jawbone and function as a sturdy foundation for the new teeth.
The basic dental implant surgical component is a one day procedure. It involves the following stages: anesthesia, dental area preparation, implant placement, post-operative cleaning, suturing. The initial stage sees the patient on a dentist’s chair where local anesthesia or general anesthesia will be given. The mouth will be prepared for the implants by removing any teeth that are rotten or failing. Any gum or jaw tissue that is infected will similarly be removed and allowed to heal. Once healed, the patient receives a functional albeit temporary denture or bridge to allow him or her to chew food items. The next stage is the implant process where titanium screws are installed in the jawbone. Usually, two implants are installed in front of the mouth, and two are placed at the back. These anchors serve to withstand the force of artificial teeth.
Once the implants are in their proper position, the surgical sites will be cleaned and the incisions will be sutured. The patient will be taken to the recovery room until he or she recovers from the anesthesia. A temporary prosthesis is connected onto the implants providing a set of teeth that the patient can slowly begin to chew and function with. After three to five months, the patient returns to have a final prosthesis made- one that is better fitted to the healed tissues. After two to six weeks, the final fittings occur to ensure that the new set of teeth are the proper colour, size, and proportion.
After the placement of an all-on-four denture, a patient will be functioning quicker than those who received conventional dentures. The stability provided by implants due to them being fused with the jawbone makes faster recovery possible even on the first day of the placement. Further, this new technology allows the provider to give the patient a beautiful smile with a full set of teeth that can function on the same day as the implant surgery.