While preserving your natural teeth is always preferred, dental implants are the best solution when faced with the loss of one or more teeth. A dental implant is essentially an artificial tooth root that Dr. Murphy surgically places in the jaw. Once completely integrated into the jawbone, a replacement tooth or bridge can be affixed to this "root" by your dentist, restoring function and a natural appearance to that area.
Reasons why dental implants are the superior choice for restoring missing teeth:
Dental implants can be placed without affecting the health of adjacent teeth. Other options for replacement such as bridges are less desirable as they require cutting down adjacent healthy teeth, which may affect the vitality of those teeth, causing damage or eventual loss. Partials are attached using hooks which may cause adjacent teeth to loosen over time.
By taking the place of a natural tooth, implants prevent jaw joint pain or bite problems caused by teeth shifting into a missing tooth space.
Back teeth are the work horses of our mouths when it comes to chewing. Dental implants in those areas restore chewing function which aids in proper digestion.
Front teeth give us our confident smile and are essential for clear speech. Unlike partials, implants do not require hooks that alter the appearance of our smile. Missing teeth, dentures and partials all result in loss of bone over time, causing the appearance of premature aging. Dental implants help prevent or reduce bone resorption, preserving a more natural appearance.
Dental implants offer a strong, durable and comfortable long-term solution to tooth loss. With proper hygiene, dental implants last many years.
What is involved in getting a dental implant?
Your initial consultation with Dr. Murphy will be a comprehensive evaluation with the goal of giving you all of the information necessary to move forward with confidence. Dr. Murphy uses advanced 3-D cone beam ("CAT Scan") imaging that provides three-dimensional and cross-sectional views of your mouth. With this technology, Dr. Murphy can determine the size of the implant best suited for the space and show you areas where bone grafts may be needed for the successful retention of your implant. He will advise you of expected healing times between stages of the implant process and your anesthesia options to make the process as comfortable as possible. Dr. Murphy will work with your dentist, communicating with him or her at each stage of the process for a seamless transition to them for the final restoration of your new tooth.
Bone grafting may be necessary prior to placement of your implants as sufficient bone strength and density is essential to form the foundation necessary to support and anchor your implant.
If Dr. Murphy is removing the tooth that is to be replaced with an implant, he may recommend a socket preservation graft. This graft will be done at the same time as the tooth extraction to help reduce or eliminate bone loss while the extraction site heals. Once the tooth has been removed, you may want to have a temporary tooth fabricated by your dentist so that your appearance will not be altered during the healing process until your dentist can restore the final implant.
Where bone loss has occurred because of missing teeth, periodontal disease, infection, or trauma, Dr. Murphy may recommend a tunnel graft. A tunnel graft restores bone density and bone contour in the implant area, creating a solid foundation in which to place the implant.
The sinus cavities lie above the upper jaw and, in some instances, the bone separating the sinus and the mouth is not thick enough to support an implant. Dr. Murphy will need to perform a sinus lift graft where he will elevate the lining of the sinus and place grafting material to increase the height of the bone in that area. Once healed, Dr, Murphy will have sufficient room to place the implant without disturbing the sinus cavity.
After a healing period allowing any necessary bone grafting to properly integrate, or if no grafting was required, the next stage in the implant process is the surgical placement of the dental implant itself. Dr. Murphy uses implants made of titanium because they are extremely durable and well tolerated by the mouth. Once placed, the implant will heal in place undisturbed for several months to ensure solid integration into the jaw.
When the implant is ready for final restoration, a small connector piece called an abutment is attached to the implant, either by Dr. Murphy or your dentist. If Dr. Murphy attaches the abutment, we will coordinate that appointment with your dentist's office so that he or she can take impressions needed for fabrication of the crown. Your dentist will finish the restoration process for you.