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Dental Implants: Are They for Me?

By Thomas D. Taylor, D.D.S., M.S.D., and William R. Laney, D.M.D., M.S.

Restorative Treatment and Aftercare

Click on images for detailed views.

At least several days after the abutments have been attached to the integrated implants, impressions are again made of your mouth. Plaster-like models of the jaws and any teeth that you may still have can then be made from the impressions. The new replacement teeth (bridge or denture, also called a prosthesis) will eventually be made on these models.

If no natural teeth are present, bite records are made on temporary denture bases with wax rims. Artificial teeth are arranged on the bases so that the correct position of the teeth can be determined in your mouth.

A metal framework is then made, and the artificial teeth are attached to this framework in the previously determined positions.

This whole assembly of framework and teeth will be tried in your mouth to see how it fits and looks. When the teeth look satisfactory and function properly, the prosthesis is completed.

At last, the final prosthesis is secured on the abutments with small screws (or in situations where natural teeth also remain, with dental cement). This is called a fixed prosthesis.

The final fixed prosthesis (bridge) is shown in place in the mouth. Note that abutment posts are not visible when you smile.

If it is not possible to construct a fixed prosthesis for your jaw, a removable overdenture may be designed to fit over the implants. While it is removable by you, it can be secured to the abutments by various types of attachments or magnets.

If you do have some remaining natural teeth, a prosthesis fixed to two or more implants may also be made to replace the missing teeth. They may be attached to natural teeth or may stand alone in the areas where teeth have been lost. Single missing teeth can be replaced by an implant-supported replacement tooth.

During the first year after your new prosthesis has been placed on the implants, it is necessary for the dentist to confirm that it fits well and works satisfactorily. Regular checkup appointments will usually be scheduled at 1-, 3-, and 6-month intervals in the first year. At these checkups, dental x-rays may be taken to examine the implant-bone relationship and rule out any disease. After the first year, follow-up examinations are usually necessary only once a year.

Illustration of plaster-like mold made from mouth impressions

Illustration of mold with framework, abutments, artificial teeth, and pink wax to simulate gum tissue

Illustration of the final prosthesis being secured on the abutments

Illustration of a mouth smiling to show that the abutment posts are not visible when you smile

All material is copyrighted by Quintessence Publishing Co., Inc. and reproduced with permission.