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Dental Implants
Houston, TX

Your teeth are an important feature, responsible for many daily tasks. They allow you to bite and chew your food, initiating the digestive process by breaking down the foods you eat so that the nutrients are more easily absorbed by the body. They allow you to form specific words and sounds by controlling your airflow. They provide you with a full, beautiful smile. When you lose your teeth, whether it's one of them or all of them, all of these functions are affected. Replacing your missing teeth is essential for restoring the functions of your teeth, your appearance, and your overall quality of life. At University Periodontal Associates in Houston, TX, we offer dental implants.

Dental Implant Links

Video: Dental Implant History

What are Dental Implants?

When you experienced tooth loss in the past, your options for replacing those missing teeth in the Houston area were limited and were based on how many teeth were lost. Your options consisted of bridges (one to three missing teeth), partial dentures (sections of several missing teeth), and full dentures (an entire arch, or full mouth, of missing teeth). While these options are still used today, you have another one – dental implants.

Dental implants are made up of three major components. The first is a small, titanium rod, which is surgically implanted into your jawbone. It relies on a process called osseointegration, or the fusion of your jawbone with the implant. This occurs as you heal. Once you have fully healed, and osseointegration is successful, the titanium rod creates a stable support. The second part is an abutment, which connects to the final restoration. The third part is the restoration, such as a crown.

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Video: Implant Supported Dentures

Types of Dental Implants

Implants are a customizable tooth replacement option for people with missing teeth. There are several types of dental implants, which can be designed to suit a variety of different needs and costs:

Single Tooth Implants:

Single tooth dental implants are just as the name suggests. A single titanium rod is implanted into your jaw and is used to support a single replacement tooth.

Multiple Teeth Implants:

These implants are also commonly referred to as an implant supported bridge, and are used to replace several missing teeth in one area of your mouth (replacing a fixed bridge or partial denture). Your replacement teeth are supported by one or more implants, depending on how many teeth you are missing.

Implant-Supported Dentures:

If you are missing all of your teeth (whether in your upper jaw, lower jaw, or both), implant supported dentures can be used instead of full dentures. Your replacement teeth are supported by 6 to 8 implants.

All on 4® Treatment Concept:

Implants require that you have sufficient bone mass in your jaw for successful osseointegration. If your jawbone is too weak, this used to mean dentures. The All on 4® treatment concept is designed for tooth loss patients who are lacking sufficient bone density. An entire arch of replacement teeth is supported by four strategically placed implants.

Video: Dental Implant Consultation

Dental Implant Procedure

Before you get dental implants, we first have a consultation with you. During this consultation, we will assess your candidacy. At our Houston office, we perform a thorough oral exam and take some 3D images using our cone beam machine. These images will allow our expert periodontist to get a better look at the condition of your jawbone, to ensure that there is enough mass to support implants. They also allow us to create your customized treatment plan and optimal placement for your implants.

If you are determined to be a candidate, we then move forward with the surgical procedure. Before we begin, we administer a local anesthetic. Once the anesthetic has taken effect, we make incisions in your gum tissue, exposing the bone underneath. We then drill into the jawbone and place the implants. We then stitch your gums closed around the implants, leaving a few the titanium rods exposed above the tissue. Before you go home to heal, you are provided with a set of temporary teeth.

Healing can take a few weeks up to several months, depending on how many implants have been placed. During this time, we will monitor your healing through several visits, making sure that your jawbone is properly fused to the titanium rods. You will be provided with a set of post-surgical care instructions, which will outline what you can expect in the days and weeks following surgery, and what you can do to manage common post-surgical issues. If you have any questions or concerns during your healing process, you should contact us right away.

After you have fully healed, we will begin the process of creating your permanent replacement teeth. We remove your temporary teeth and place the abutments. We then take impressions of your mouth, which are sent to a lab, where your teeth are then designed and created. This can take up to two weeks, so you will wear the temporary teeth while you wait. When they are finished, we will affix them permanently in place with screws.

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Do Implants Require Special Care?

Implants can be cared for just like your natural teeth. Even if all of your teeth have been replaced, it is important that you maintain your regular oral hygiene routine. Brush at least twice a day, and floss daily. While your replacement teeth, made from ceramic, cannot get cavities, they can still collect plaque, which can lead to gum disease. Periodic dental visits for cleanings and exams are also important.

Video: What can Dental Implants Do for Me?

Causes of Tooth Loss

One of the most common causes of tooth loss is gum (periodontal) disease. When oral bacteria build up in your mouth, they irritate your gum tissue. This causes your gums to swell and pull away from your teeth, creating pockets. Bacteria then fall below the gum line and begin attacking your jawbone and periodontal ligaments (the structures that hold your teeth in place). As a result, your teeth become unstable and eventually fall out.

Other causes of tooth loss include:
•  Bruxism (grinding and clenching of your teeth).
•  Facial trauma.
•  Smoking.
•  Untreated cavities.

Advantages of Dental Implants

There are numerous benefits to dental implants:
•  You can eat all of your favorite foods once again.
•  Your digestion is improved, which can improve your overall nutrition.
•  Your speech is restored.
•  Your smile and confidence are restored.
•  Implants are easy to care for.
•  They are permanent. Unlike traditional replacement options, they do not need to be periodically replaced.
•  They are more comfortable than traditional options. Your replacement teeth are supported by the implants rather than your gums or your adjacent teeth.
•  Implants imitate the roots of your natural teeth, which helps to preserve the strength and health of your jawbone. This helps to avoid the bone loss typically associated with tooth loss and can help your face to maintain its youthful shape.

Dental Implant Materials

Here at University Periodontal Associates in Houston, TX we use a variety of different materials for dental implant restorations. Different materials are used depending on the desired effect and the specific circumstances surrounding the restoration. Below, we go over some of the different implant restoration materials that we commonly use and the different kinds of implant restorations that there are.

•  Titanium: Titanium is an integral material in dental implant technology, and it isn't used for the restorations, it's used to make the dental implants themselves. Dental implant posts are the parts of the dental implant that are surgically placed into the jaw of the patient. Titanium is unique in the ways that it interacts with human biology. After a titanium post is surgically inserted into the jaw bone, the bone will begin to fuse with the titanium in a process known as osseointegration.

•  Zirconia: Like titanium, zirconia is used to create an implant post that is surgically inserted into the jaw bone. Zirconia isn't metal, it's ceramic, and instead of being metallic in color, like titanium, it's white. Zirconia implant posts are used in situations where there may not be enough gum tissue to cover the implant post completely. Zirconia is not used as frequently as titanium, but it is biocompatible and conducive to osseointegration similar to titanium.

Dental implant in bottom teeth at University Periodontal Associates.

Parts of a dental implant at University Periodontal Associates.

There are three main parts of a dental implant: the post, the abutment, and the restoration.

1.  Dental Implant Post: The post looks a lot like a screw and is the part of the dental implant that we surgically place into the jaw. We rely on the dental implant post for the structural support for the rest of the dental implant. The post is similar to the root of your natural teeth. Osseointegrations, or the healing of the bone around the implant post, is critical to the success of any dental implant.

2.  Dental Implant Abutment: The dental implant abutment screws into the top of the implant post and provides plenty of surfaces area for us to attach the dental implant restoration. The abutment is the unsung hero of dental implant parts.

3.  Dental Implant Restoration: The dental implant restoration is the part of the dental implant that you get to see. Dental implant restorations can be a single tooth crown, a multi-tooth bridge, or even a full arch of replacement prosthetics.

Why Replace Missing Teeth?

Replacing missing teeth is critical to your continuing oral health. When a tooth is lost and not replaced, lots of things start to go wrong with your overall oral health. The bone in your jaw can begin to resorb and deteriorate, as well as the soft tissues in your mouth. When your natural teeth lose a neighboring tooth, they lose critical structural support and will begin to drift within their socket. Lots of complications can occur if you lose teeth and don't replace them including:
•  Tooth alignment issues
•  Damage to teeth
•  Deterioration of soft and hard tissues
•  Tooth damage

Traditional Tooth Loss Replacement

Dentures, partial dentures, and bridges are the most common traditional tooth loss replacement options.

•  Bridge: Dental bridges are aptly named because they bridge the gap of missing teeth. Bridges can be supported by dental implants or by your natural teeth.

•  Denture: Dentures come in two iterations, full and partial. They can also be traditional dentures or implant supported dentures.

Bridges and dentures aren't bad ways to replace missing teeth, but they don't treat the underlying issue that tooth loss presents – the jaw stops being stimulated by the root of the tooth.

Questions About Dental Implants?

If you are missing teeth, call University Periodontal Associates in Houston at (832) 975-0990 to find out if dental implants are right for you.
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Ready for your new smile? Schedule your consultation and learn more about customized Dental Implant Solutions. Call us in Houston today at (832) 975-0990.
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