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What Are Dental Implants?


A natural tooth consists of a root and a crown. If you compare natural teeth to implant-supported replacement teeth, you’ll see they have the same basic parts. Both have a crown (the visible part used to chew food). Both have a root that holds the tooth securely under the gum and is anchored into the jaw. The difference is that the implant is made of titanium – the same time-tested material used by surgeons for artificial joints. When you lose a tooth, you lose both the root and the crown. To replace the tooth, the surgeon first replaces the root with a small dental implant.

Time is allowed for bone to heal and grow around the dental implant. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. A support post (abutment) is then placed on the implant and a new replacement tooth (crown) is placed on top of the abutment. In many cases a temporary replacement tooth can be attached to the implant immediately after it is placed. If all of your teeth are missing, a variety of treatment options are available to support the replacement teeth.

Surgical Advances


Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Dr. Stefanuto is able to place single stage implants. These implants do not require a second procedure to uncover them, but do require a minimum of six weeks of healing time before artificial teeth are placed. There are even situations where the implant can be placed at the same time as the tooth extraction – further minimizing your number of surgical procedures.

Dental implant placement is a team effort between an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. Dr. Stefanuto performs the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary. The restorative dentist (your dentist) fits and makes the permanent prosthesis. Your dentist will also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process.

Why an Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon?


Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons (OMS) are unique in that they are examined specifically on dental implantology during their board examination processes and have the ability to augment both the soft tissues and hard tissues supporting dental implants. OMS have the ability to harvest one’s own tissue to allow for placement of a dental implant in the most ideal location for the most predictable results. With dental implants the devil is in the details, and having trained in highly technique sensitive cleft lip and palate, facial and orbital surgery- oral and maxillofacial surgeons are best able to handle the soft tissues in the anterior esthetic dental zone. Ask your dentist for a referral to APEX for the level of care provided by our team.

Replacing Missing Teeth


Your teeth affect your whole body. When they’re healthy, you’re healthier too. A missing tooth can affect your bite, speech and eating choices. As you rely more on your remaining teeth, you increase the chance they will wear out prematurely, or be damaged or lost.

Who would want their appearance and health to deteriorate? That’s the natural consequence of missing teeth – the jaw literally melts away. Generally, people will lose 25% of their supporting jawbone structure within the first year after tooth loss. Dental implants are more easily placed when teeth are first extracted because bone replacement becomes more complex as time passes. The great news? Implants act just like your natural teeth. They safeguard and preserve your bone structure, oral health and appearance. Your dentist and the oral and maxillofacial implant surgeon will provide you with options so that you can make the most informed decision concerning tooth replacement.

Tooth Replacement Options


You can select from a number of different options to replace your missing teeth – from temporary to long-lasting solutions. A good candidate is anyone missing one or more teeth, or who is unhappy with their dentures. Age is not a factor. However, smoking, diseases such as diabetes, and radiation therapy to the area, have been shown to lower the success rate of implant placement. X-rays of your jaw will be taken to evaluate whether they will accommodate implants. Detailed 3-D x-rays may also be required to determine if other tests or procedures are needed to place implants properly.

When Are Dental
Implants Placed?


Implants are often placed several months after extraction. At times, an implant may be placed immediately after extraction of a tooth. This may involve a little more risk, but it simplifies the process—you won’t have to wait for another appointment to place the implant. When infection or other problems with the bone are present, immediate implant placement is not the best treatment. If your tooth has been missing for some time, the adjacent support bone is likely to grow thinner and shrink. This occurs because the root of the natural tooth has to be present to stimulate the bone. As much as one third of your jaw’s thickness can be lost in the year following tooth extraction. If you are missing enough bone, you may benefit from having additional bone grafted into the area. This ensures the implant will be adequately supported when it is placed in the jaw.

Will One Doctor
Do Everything?


Usually, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon places the implant(s) and performs other necessary surgical procedures – your general dentist (AKA dental surgeon) provides the temporary and permanent replacement teeth. Both doctors are involved in planning your dental treatment.

How Much Does
All Of This Cost?


Before treatment begins, every effort will be made to give you an accurate estimate of all the expenses involved in placing the implants and making your replacement teeth.

Your oral and maxillofacial surgical team will give you an estimate of the SURGICAL FEES only after your consultation and treatment planning is completed.

In many cases, there is an initial charge from your dentist for the diagnostic work-up, including study models, x-rays, and the fabrication of a surgical template to ensure the best possible result. In addition you will be charged for the abutment or support post(s), plus the crown, dentures, or anything else that will be placed over the implants, including temporary restorations. Periodic maintenance such as hygiene visits, tissue conditioners, denture relines and other repairs will also incur additional charges.

When different doctors are involved in your treatment, you will be charged separately for their services. Also, you should consider your personal financial investment in each treatment option as some insurance companies provide limited or no coverage.

Each patient is unique, and it is not possible for us to discuss every option and every contingency for treatment outcome. This is intended to help you understand the general treatment options available to you. If your specific treatment options are not clear, please contact us. We will be happy to answer any questions you have about your dental care.