The Basics of Dental Implants

You or someone you know has likely lost a tooth in their life. Even having wisdom teeth removed can be considered having “lost” a tooth. When a tooth is lost for any reason other than by design for orthodontics, or when a tooth is missing because it never developed, the teeth and tissue around it’s space can become compromised. We won’t go into the fun and exciting details of tooth movement, migration, and hyper-eruption here, but instead discuss one of the best ways to replace missing teeth – implants! Simply put, the “implant” is a replacement for a tooth’s roots, which is placed into the bone of the upper or lower jaw.  Using the implant as the “base”, we are able to connect a “tooth” back to the jaw. We can also replace multiple teeth with bridges or dentures connected to implants – a topic for another day!

More on Dental Implants

We are asked often, whether in the office or casually around friends and neighbors, about dental implants at our Ashland, Oregon office.  The implant can be placed by well-trained and skilled oral surgeons, periodontists, general dentists, and, occasionally, other specialists. It is very important that the skill of the surgeon and the materials used in placement of each implant be of the highest caliber. Typically, a dentist will then connect a tooth to the integrated implant either directly or through the use of an abutment.  We are very fortunate to live in an era in which implant treatment planning, proper placement, and high-quality restorations can produce long-lasting, esthetically pleasing, and functionally satisfying replacements for missing teeth.

Dental Implants in Ashland – A Unique Solution to Implant Problems

Occasionally, implants or the restorations placed on them may fail or require servicing to prolong their lifespan. The photos included in this posting show the tale of an implant placed on a patient of mine while I was in dental school in 2006.  The implant was placed after the tooth fractured and was beyond repair and had been removed by an oral surgeon. Nearly 8 years after having been restored, the implant was doing well, but the crown had come off of the abutment (connecting the tooth to the implant). Another dentist had evaluated the implant, abutment, and crown and recommended fabrication of a new abutment and new crown.  The patient was concerned with costs and approached me to review his options. After discussing the case carefully with our local lab technician, we decided together to take a unique approach by utilizing the existing “hardware” to salvage his valuable existing abutment and crown. The first photograph shows the lab model with the blue replica implant and the remodeled and “salvaged” gold crown connected to the titanium abutment with permanent cement.  Next, we see the healthy gum tissue and the top of the implant. This photo is from just prior to placing the “converted” restoration back onto the implant. The final picture shows the gold tooth back in place, with the bite checked for comfort and a BPA-free composite resin filling to close the screw hole. The radiograph shows the modified restoration connected to the implant with the contour reshaped to be more ideal for comfort and access for cleansing. Through some creative thinking in our office and with our excellent lab technician – David with Sun Dental Lab in Ashland, OR – we were able to provide a conservative, functional, and satisfactory result to this patient.  Two benefits which the patient noted right away were that his bite felt more comfortable than it had with the “old” crown, and his cost was reduced by at least $2,000 by not fabricating a new abutment and crown.

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Dental Implants and You

While not every implant scenario will play out this “simply”, we feel it is extremely valuable that our patients and prospective patients know that we are focused on doing the best we can for them, while having their best interests in mind. If you or someone you know have questions about implants or have had trouble with an implant, please feel welcome in contacting our office to discuss your case.  We are available Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday afternoons, and Fridays.  Maybe I’ll run into you around town, too – I always like a little tooth-talk!

Thanks, Dr. Brandon White