The dental implant is a tiny cylinder made of biocompatible (tissue-friendly) titanium or zirconium. During the recovery process, it joins with your bone tissue through a biological process called osseointegration to form an anchor point that supports a replacement tooth. A single implant replaces one missing tooth, and as few as four implants can be used to support a full set of new teeth that snap into place like natural teeth and give you chewing power equal to natural teeth.
The implant is supported by your jawbone, and it is most successful when the surrounding area of your jawbone is healthy and robust. Patients who have had missing teeth for a long time often experience jawbone deterioration because the natural tooth roots no longer stimulate the bone.
During the exam, we take panoramic and cephalometric radiographs, as well as tomograms (CT scans), to evaluate your oral health, especially the thickness and structure of your jawbone. These diagnostic tools enable us to determine if you have enough bone mass to secure the implant and support your restorations.
Most people do have enough bone for an implant, but if the initial exam indicates that you don’t, we can add more stability with a bone graft or sinus lift. Bone grafting involves using bone harvested from elsewhere in your body and adding it to the implant site, while a sinus lift is done when the upper jaw has lost bone density due to prior extractions or gum disease.