Dental Implants: Restoration of a Missing Tooth

Dental Implants: Restoration of a Missing Tooth

In dentistry, we use the term prognosis to describe how long a tooth will continue to function properly.  That term also encompasses any treatment done on a tooth as a predictor of how long the treatment itself will last and keep the tooth in proper function.  Giving a prognosis on a tooth or treatment is a little like predicting the future.  We are not giving an exact timeline; we are making an educated guess.  We want your teeth and the work we perform on them to last as long as you do!

When a tooth has a hopeless prognosis, the only treatment option is removal of the tooth by extraction.  When a tooth or the proposed treatment to save a tooth has a poor long-term prognosis, we will always give you the option to remove the tooth.  Once the tooth is removed, you will have several options for replacing it.  We believe that your time, effort and money are best invested in something that will last.  The treatment option with the highest success rate for replacing a missing tooth is a dental implant.

Anatomy of a Dental Implant

One of the reasons a dental implant has such a high success rate is that its anatomy mimics a natural tooth more closely than any other treatment option available in dentistry.  This configuration allows a dental implant to stand alone; it does not anchor or rest on any other teeth unlike a bridge or a removable partial.

A dental implant consists of three parts:

  • Implant body – The implant body is the root replacement. It is made from titanium, like implants and prostheses used in other parts of the body.  This titanium root form comes in many different sizes, and using our 3D image of your jawbones, we will select the proper size for your specific missing tooth.  In some cases, the implant can be placed at the time of extraction, called an immediate implant.  In other situations, it is necessary to allow the jawbone to heal for several months between the extraction and the placement of the dental implant. Once the implant has been placed into the jawbone, it must heal for several months, allowing the bone to grow into the threads of the implant form, which is a process called osseointegration.  After a minimum of 3 months of healing, we are able to test the level of osseointegration of the implant using a tool called an Osstell to ensure that the implant is stable and ready to withstand chewing forces.
  • Abutment – The abutment is the connector between the implant root and the dental crown. An abutment can be made from several different materials, as needed for esthetics.  The abutment is affixed to the implant root form with a small screw, and it protrudes from the gums, providing the core structure for a crown.
  • Abutment-supported crown – An abutment-supported crown is very similar to a traditional dental crown. It covers the entire abutment form to the gumline and restores the natural anatomy of the tooth, enabling you to return to normal function in this area.

What Is the Process for Replacing a Missing Tooth with a Dental Implant?

Implant Planning

At this visit, some images are taken of the proposed implant site, including photographs and dental x-rays.  We plan how the dental restoration will function after the implant is ready.

Surgical Placement of the Implant

Dr. McConnell and Dr. Nguyen will refer you to a periodontist for the implant placement surgery.  During the surgical visit, you have the option to be sedated, and if you desire this, please discuss it with the surgeon BEFORE this visit.  You can also elect to have the procedure done with local anesthetic only, meaning you are awake throughout.  Implant placement is a relatively quick procedure and usually causes less discomfort than a tooth extraction so many people choose to remain awake for this visit.  You should feel only vibration as the site in the bone is being prepared and the implant placed.  You will be given very strict post-operative instructions regarding your stitches, care of the surgical site, and oral hygiene to follow.

Healing Period

Your surgeon will determine how long your implant needs to heal before it can support a dental crown and begin chewing.  This time period will include removal of any stitches after the surgery, uncovering of the implant if the gums are closed over it, and testing the implant to make sure it can support normal function.

Scanning for Abutment and Crown

Once the surgeon has deemed the implant fit for function, we are ready to build a crown over it.  Using our 3D intraoral scanner, we take an image of the implant site and the surrounding teeth.  We send this three-dimensional image to the dental laboratory for selection of the proper abutment and fabrication of your dental crown.  We place a special covering called a healing cap over the implant at the end of this visit to hold the gums in their proper position.

Final Placement of Abutment and Crown

When the abutment and crown are delivered to our office from the dental laboratory, the healing cap is removed from the implant, and the abutment and crown are placed.  The abutment is attached to the implant via a small screw, which is torqued to the appropriate tightness.  Dental x-rays confirm the fit of the crown.  Once the crown meets our standards and feels perfect to you, it will be cemented and cleaned.

Do You Have a Missing Tooth that You Would Like Restored with a Dental Implant?

Call our office at 405-943-0123 to set up a consultation with Dr. McConnell or Dr. Nguyen.  They will discuss your treatment options in detail and help you choose which is right for you.

Signature Dental, Inc.
Dr. Kesa McConnell
2620 NW Expressway
Suite E
Oklahoma City, OK 73112
Our practice is conveniently located in Oklahoma City, OK
Our Hours Monday:7:30 am - 4:00 pm
Tuesday:7:30 am - 5:00 pm
Wednesday:7:30 am - 4:00 pm
Thursday:7:30 am - 4:00 pm
Friday:7:30 am - 3:00 pm

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