While dental implants are a safe and an effective tooth replacement option, complications can occur in a small percentage of cases. To make sure you are in the hands of a qualified professional, skilled and experienced in the proper management of the dental implant procedure from start to finish, put your trust in Dr. Garth B. Riopelle, a dental implant dentist serving residents of San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, Danville, Livermore, and neighboring communities in California.

Dental Implants Have Proven their Reliability Over 30 Years

Dental implants have been providing safe, comfortable, durable, and trouble-free long-term tooth replacement since the 1980s, with the vast majority of patients enjoying a minimum of 10 years with no adverse side effects or complications. During this time, dental implants have been studied extensively, and undergone countless critical trials, through which they have proven their reliability and safety, as well as the many advantages that they offer over other, non-fixed tooth replacement options such as dentures and partial dentures.

Steps to Getting Dental Implants

The dental implant procedure requires careful planning and long periods of waiting for healing to take place before moving on to the next step. Dr. Riopelle will require a full set of x-rays of your mouth, as well as your full medical history in order to prepare a customized plan for you. He will want to know if you are currently taking any medications, and you may be directed to suspend the use of certain medications, such as blood thinners, as you prepare for implant surgery.

Dr. Riopelle will examine your mouth and evaluate the health of your jawbone, establish the position of blood vessels, nerves, and other vital structures, and ascertain the number of implants you will need in order to restore full dental function and provide a natural-looking cosmetic solution. If your jawbone is not strong enough to support dental implants, a bone augmentation procedure may be performed, in which bone tissue is grafted to your natural bone to strengthen it. This procedure requires a period of several months to heal before dental implants may be inserted into the new bone tissue.

OnceDr. Riopelle has determined that you are ready for the actual implant surgery, the implant, a small titanium post resembling a small screw, is inserted into the jawbone directly, and camouflaged under the gum line. Titanium is used for this purpose, as well as in many other surgical applications, because it has the unique ability to allow bone tissue to grow on its surface and fuse with it. This process of fusing bone tissue with the titanium is called osseointegration, and is crucial to the success of any dental implant procedure, as it will impact the stability of any crowns or bridgework mounted on top of the implants.

Once the implant has fused with the living bone tissue successfully and healed completely, a porcelain or ceramic crown will be fitted and affixed onto the implant by means of a metal connector called an abutment. The crown is designed to resemble your natural tooth and is the part of the implant that is visible above the gum line. The process of mounting a crown onto an implant is known as loading the implant.

Avoiding Potential Pitfalls

While most patients enjoy a newfound comfort after getting dental implants, a small percentage experience complications. Bone health is a key variable in ensuring the success of implant surgery, and many factors may affect a patient’s bone health, such as age and medical conditions, as well as personal habits. Medical conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and autoimmune deficiencies may elevate a person’s risk of implant failure or complications after implant surgery. Smoking is also known to have a negative impact on the process of wound healing in the oral cavity; therefore smoking also increases risk.

In some cases an underlying infection or inflammatory condition may prevent an implant from fusing with living bone tissue, or the failure may be due to the body secreting a thin fibrous encasement for the implant that prevents it from fusing with bone tissue. Luckily in most of these cases of early failure, treating the underlying infection and simply repeating the procedure at a later date, or using a larger or wider implant may successfully eliminate the problem.

Temporary “Same Day” Crowns on Single Implants

In some cases, for cosmetic reasons,Dr. Riopelle may “load” an implant immediately if it is in an area of the mouth where it is highly visible, although normally, loading new implants before the osseointegration process has completed is not advisable. Nevertheless, it is possible to mount a temporary crown over an implant and this is known as “immediate provisionalization with no loading.” A temporary crown will be used that is shorter in length than the patient’s other teeth, preventing the implant from touching the tooth opposite to it in the other jaw. This prevents any possible impact from movement or biting forces to affect the vulnerable new implant, and allows sufficient time for osseointegration to take place before a permanent, full-length crown is mounted on the implant.

Immediate Loading of Multiple Dental Implants

In cases where implants are being used to replace an entire row of teeth, or dental arch,Dr. Riopelle can actually load multiple implants immediately on the same day without fear of negatively impacting the new implants. Because the implants are joined together in a rigid, solid arch as a single unit, which stabilizes and supports them, there is no risk of biting force or motion impact interfering with the stability of the implants or inhibiting the osseointegration process, and in this case, immediate loading may be safe and reasonable.

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