Over the past 20 years, dental implants have allowed dentists to replace missing teeth and teeth that have been compromised by disease or trauma. You can eat normally, speak normally, and have improved natural appearance with dental implants. Because of their stability, they are preferred over dentures and traditionally attached bridges in many, if not most, circumstances.
The desires of dentists and patients have led to many innovations that were not considered possible when implant technology began 20 years ago. “Immediate loading of dental implants” is one of them.
Both patients and dentists have wanted to narrow the length of time between when implants are placed in the jaw and when prosthetic teeth or a denture is anchored to them. Until relatively recently, dentists always looked for sound, original teeth to attach temporary bridges until the bone healed around the implants. In the absence of these sound, original teeth, dentists resorted to giving patients removable dentures. It was an emotionally trying time for patients.
Thanks to new information on the scientific front, we now know that if the bone and implanted root form are sufficiently stable, it is possible in some cases to anchor prosthetic teeth immediately. You may have read or heard about “one-day dental implants.”
Highly-trained dentists who are working with implants place “provisional” restorations on implants prior to anchoring permanent restorations. Provisional restorations are made of a lower-cost material than the final restoration, and they allow the patient and dentist time to “try out” the new tooth’s form and contact with other teeth before the permanent restorations are made and anchored. The dentist has the opportunity to improve upon the restoration’s design to maximize its long-term function, thus durability and comfort.
To ensure success, the restorative dentist, implant surgeon and patient must work together. The dentist and surgeon study the amount of existing bone that will support each implant, the number of implants that will support the provisional (temporary) and subsequent final restoration, the functional biting forces the patient will exert before the bone has healed firmly around the implant, and the size and shape of the restoration.
In order to undertake this analysis, the dental team makes use of models, photographs, diagnostic imaging such as X-rays and CAT scans, and surgical templates. They evaluate the bone that will receive the implants. If insufficient bone is available, bone grafting can be done but in this circumstance provisional teeth will not be immediately loaded where the bone tissue needs to grow and stabilize. A removable “provisional” (temporary restoration such as a bridge or denture) will be worn for a few months. Once implants are done and restorations completed, patients report their new teeth feel and function just like natural ones with wonderful esthetic appearance.
Keep in mind that each of you is unique. The best way to treat an individual situation is through careful study and consultation with your dentist based on your individual circumstances, temperament and objectives.