Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that serve as anchors for replacement teeth. When a patient is missing one or more teeth, dental implants are the most permanent (and often the most comfortable) solution. They are better than other alternatives like bridges because no additional teeth need to be altered to place the new tooth and your natural teeth are being preserved.
The entire implant process is performed over the course of a few months. The first part of the process is to install the implant by a skilled surgeon, where a screw is placed into the jaw bone. Multiple implants can be placed at the same time if necessary.
The implants will take about 4-6 months to heal, and during this time the jaw bone will form around the implant in a process called osseo integration. During this healing time you may have temporary crowns installed so that you can eat and speak normally and maintain a proper aesthetic appearance for your smile.
After the implant has healed, it is time to place an abutment on the implant. The abutment serves as the base for your new tooth. One this is placed, an impression of the abutment is taken and is used to create your permanent restoration. Once the restoration is completed you can return to the office to attach the restoration permanently.
Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that replaces missing bone with a material called a bone graft. This material not only replaces missing bone, but also helps your body regrow lost bone. This new bone growth strengthens the grafted area by forming a bridge between your existing bone and the graft. Over time the newly formed bone will replace much of the grafted material. GBR is a procedure in which a membrane is placed over the bone graft site. This membrane further encourages new bone to grow and also prevents the growth of scar tissue in the grafted site. The final result of the bone grafting and GBR membrane procedures is to create a more denser bone to support the implant.