Frequently Asked Questions
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I personally feel dental implants are one of the most exciting treatment modalities ever to emerge from the dental profession. Essentially a dental implant is a titanium screw like attachment that is carefully placed into the jawbone. It acts as an anchor for a replacement tooth or several teeth in the case of multiple implants. They can also be used to help secure loose dentures.
Most anyone in reasonable health who wants to replace missing teeth is a candidate for dental implants. You must have enough bone in the area of the missing teeth to provide for the anchorage of the implants. We frequently use implants to replace single teeth or replace several missing teeth. Implants can also be used to secure full dentures.
According to various studies the success of implants is in the 85%-95% range assuming they are properly placed. One of the keys to success is ensuring the receptor site is a good one prior to placing the implant. This sometimes entails developing the site prior to placing the implant. In this office we have restored thousands of implants successfully over the last 15 years.
The restoring dentist needs to be the “quarterback” when doing an implant case. The decision to place dental implants needs to be a joint decision made by the restorative dentist (who will restore the implants), the dentist placing the implants (usually a periodontist or oral surgeon), and the patient. Implants should never be placed until the dentist who actually has to place the final restorations has designed and coordinated the case with the dentist placing the implants and discussed all options with the patient.
As our lifespan increases, the need for some type of permanent dental replacement system becomes very important to our overall health. Dentures and removable bridges have obvious problems. For one thing they can be very loose and unstable. In the case of replacing a single tooth an implant is usually a much more conservative option then “cutting” down teeth on either side of the missing tooth (as is done with a conventional fixed bridge). Implants can provide people with dental replacements that are both functional and esthetic. The demand was always there, we now have the tools to fulfill that demand.
The protocol that was originally developed was we should wait three months for the lower jaw and six months for the upper jaw before we should construct the new dental prosthesis that will be supported by the implants. Since then it has been shown that it is possible load implants in much shorter time periods and in some cases right away. The final decision needs to be made on a case-by-case basis.
The actual procedure to surgically place a dental implant is done under local anesthesia and is generally not at all painful. When the anesthesia wears off after about three or four hours, you might experience some discomfort. This is usually easily controlled with medication. The level of discomfort is quite different from patient to patient, but most patients do not have significant problems.
Sometimes when a dental implant is placed, it is necessary to build up the bone in the area to insure success. The procedure of building up the bone is known as Bone Grafting. Bone grafting is a very common procedure in dentistry and it is used quite a bit for dental implants and in periodontal procedures around natural teeth. In order to do bone grafting, we need a source of bone to place in the site. The bone that we use can be one of three types. The best bone is bone that is taken from the patient that we are working on. This bone can be taken from other areas of the mouth or collected in our suction apparatus as we drill into the bone to prepare the sites for dental implants. Occasionally this bone is taken from areas outside the mouth, such as the hip. When bone is taken from the hip, it is usually done in the hospital by an orthopedic surgeon and transferred to the dentist doing the implant procedure in the OR.
Another very common source of bone is bone taken from cadavers. This bone is harvested under very strict supervision at several bone banks around the country and it is used in many dental and medical procedures. There has never been a case of a transmitted disease with this type of bone. It is very safe and very useful in our work to help patients. A third type of bone is a synthetic type of bone that can be used in selected cases.
“ZOOM” IN-OFFICE WHITENING
It’s an in office whitening process that lightens the teeth using the latest in whitening technology. It’s from a well-known dental company called Discus Dental and used in the reality show “Extreme Makeover.” Essentially the teeth to be lightened are isolated and a special whitening gel is placed on the teeth and activated with the Zoom light. The gel contains a unique Hydrogen Peroxide solution that is activated by the light.
We have talked to many dentists that have used both and the results are the same or better than Bright Smile.
The entire procedure takes about 1½ hours.
The fee is $695 for the upper and lower teeth. That fee includes take-home bleaching as well as the in-office Zoom procedure. We feel the best and longest lasting results are obtained when the patient follows up the office whitening with at home whitening. We will take impressions of your teeth and have special custom trays made for you (before you leave if possible) so you can continue the whitening process at home. Some patients prefer to home whiten only. The fee for the home-whitening system without the Zoom in office procedure is $395 (upper and lower teeth).
Studies have shown that tooth whitening, done properly, has no adverse long-term effects on the teeth. The biggest short-term problem is that approximately half of the individuals who have in-office whitening have some degree of post procedure sensitivity for a day or so. This can range from minor to severe sensitivity. We have a fluoride solution we can provide prior to and after whitening to minimize any sensitivity problems.
Not everyone is a good candidate for tooth whitening. Teeth that have many existing fillings or crowns, are broken down, or are very sensitive, may not be good candidates. Those patients may be better off with bonding, porcelain veneers, or porcelain crowns. The best candidates are those who have front teeth that are not sensitive and with few or no fillings. Whitening works very well on teeth that have yellowed due to age, smoking, coffee, or tea. We will help you determine if you are a good candidate or not for tooth whitening. You should have your teeth cleaned prior to starting in office Zoom or home whitening.