Implants are a prosthodontic procedure use to provide
permanent replacements for lost teeth without attachment to other
teeth. Implants are an alternative treatment for crowns, bridges
and dentures and are considered unnecessary by most insurance companies.
Because the process can involve procedures performed by more then
one dentist, implants can be very expensive and time intensive.
The normal process for implants is to visit your dentist
and discuss what it is you want. This is very important to insuring
satisfactory results. Once your dentist is sure you understand this
type of treatment, and what kind or result to expect, you may be
referred to a Prosthodontist, if your dentist does not do prosthodontics.
The Prosthodontist or your dentist will explain the process of making
models of your mouth to be used in the fabrication, by a dental
lab, of the replacement teeth.
The policies of the implant manufactures use to permit
sales only to Oral Surgeons. Recent changes in these policies by
some manufactures now make it possible for qualified dentists to
purchase and place implants. Because of these old policies in the
past, at this point you would have been referred to an Oral Surgeon
to place the implants. In our office we use the Nobel
Biocare System and no longer need to refer our patients to an
If your dentist refers you to an Oral Surgeon a strong
working relationship between the Oral Surgeon and the dentist providing
the prosthodontics is very important. The more experience they have
working together the better your results. If you are not comfortable
with the Oral Surgeon you were referred to ask your dentist for
another referral; do not, in this situation find your own Oral Surgeon.
Aside from how important it is that these two doctors
have a strong working relationship, they must also be using the
same implant system. The graphics below shows some of the several
dozen different implant system that exist.
Despite the claims of the companies involved, there
is no one implant system that has proven to be the best. Besides
the different methods for implant attachment to the bone, they also
differ in how the replacement teeth attach to the implants. If the
two doctors do not have a prior working relationship then they probably
do not use the same system and will simply be unable to work together;
unless one is willing to accept the cost of purchasing the new instruments
needed (which is usually significant) and spend the time needed
to learn a new system. In most cases this will increase the cost
and time needed to complete the process, which is usually not in
your best interest.
After the Oral Surgeon places the implants you will
be referred back to finish the prosthodontic work. There will be
some time needed for the gums to heal and any swelling to subside.
Finally the replacement teeth, custom fabricated by a dental lab,
will be attached to the implanted posts and the treatment completed.
Care and maintenance for these teeth is basically the same as for
your natural teeth.