Oral Health / Vanderbilt Oral Surgery / Dental Implants

Dental Implants

Dental implants can be life-changing. Implants provide a foundation for replacement teeth. These look, feel, and function like natural teeth. This gives a patient who has lost teeth the ability to eat virtually anything. It also gives you the confidence that comes from knowing your teeth look natural.

Please read below for more information, and call 615-343-9403 to schedule your implant consultation today!

What are Dental Implants?

Implants are tiny titanium posts that are surgically inserted into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors act as tooth root substitutes. Your bone bonds with the titanium, and this creates a strong foundation for artificial teeth. The implants have small posts that protrude through the gums. These act as anchors for artificial replacement teeth.

When you have teeth missing, your bones can deteriorate. Implants help prevent this, preserving your facial structure.

The advantage that dental implants have over partial dentures (which are removeable) is convenience. In addition, dentures can slip, be uncomfortable, and rather embarrassing.

The Surgical Procedure

Dental implants typically require two surgical procedures. First, implants are placed within your jawbone. For the first three to six months following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums gradually bonding with the jawbone. You should be able to wear temporary dentures and eat a soft diet during this time. During this time, Vanderbilt is creating new replacement teeth.

Once the implant has bonded to the jawbone, we uncover the implants and attach small posts that protrude through the gums. These act as anchors for the artificial teeth. Once artificial teeth are in, the posts are invisible. The entire process for dental implants usually takes six to eight months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.

Surgical Advances

Recent advances in dental implant technology enable Vanderbilt to place implants that require only one step, not two. In some instances, an implant can even be placed at the same time as a tooth extraction.

What types of prostheses are available?

A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth. Each crown is attached to its own implant. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) can replace two or more teeth. A complete dental prosthesis (fixed bridge) replaces all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. The number of implants varies depending upon which type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended. The difference in removable and fixed is that a removable prosthesis (or denture) attaches to a bar or ball in socket attachments. A fixed prosthesis is permanent and can be removed only by the dentist.

Are you a candidate for implants?

If you are considering implants, your mouth must be examined thoroughly and your medical and dental history reviewed. If you mouth is not ideal for implants, there are other options, such as bone grafting.

What type of anesthesia is used?

Most dental implants and bone grafts can be performed in the office under local anesthesia, with or without general anesthesia.

Do implants need special care?

Once the implants are in place, they will serve you well for many years if you take care of them and keep your mouth healthy. This means taking the time for good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) and keeping regular appointments with your dental specialists.