If a patient has to lose a tooth, I will consult with them regarding the use of Implant retained restorations. First, I like to ask them what they think they know about implants. It is interesting to hear the range of answers.
I like to explain Implants in the following way:
An "Implant" is the sum of 3 parts:
- The Fixture: This is a titanium screw, which is placed in an appropriate bone site that will heal in and support whatever is attached to it later on. The final restoration may be a single crown, a bridge, or perhaps an overdenture attachment. Placement of the fixture is typically performed by a periodontist or oral surgeon. The healing period can be 4-6 months depending on the bone quality.
- The Abutment: The abutment is the connector between the implant fixture and the restoration. Sometimes it looks like a mini-tooth, which will hold a crown. Other times it can be a "locator attachment" which snaps into a denture to help it hold better. A lab makes the abutment and your general dentist will make the impressions for it.
- The Restoration: This can be a single crown, a bridge, or an overdenture. The restoration is screwed into, or cemented on the abutment.
My experience with implants in general has been positive. A carefully thought out and well executed treatment plan by a team that includes a restorative dentist, a surgeon and a laboratory leads to a successful result.
As with any medical treatment, risks are involved. Some patients are not good candidates for implants. A careful review of the patient's medical history, and medications are part of determining if they are a good candidate.