Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

Cynthia A. Mumma, DDS
Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

1304 North Broom Street
Wilmington, DE 19806

Phone: (302) 652-2451
Fax: (302) 652-2550

Dental Implants

Whether missing one tooth or all their teeth, more and more people are replacing the loss with dental implants. Having a more natural feel than traditional bridges or dentures, most implant procedures involve placing metal anchors into the bone of the jaw, allowing the anchor and bone to fuse, placing an extension or abutment in the anchor, and fixing a prosthetic tooth, or crown, on the extension. After undergoing this multi-step process, many patients find they have a better feeling, better looking, and more stable solution to their tooth loss than more traditional dental reconstructive approaches.

A patient considering this surgery should gather as much information as possible about the procedure by setting up a consultation with Dr. Mumma. This procedure outline will provide an introduction to dental implants and common risks and benefits of the procedure and can provide guidance as to more detailed questions to ask your dentist or oral surgeon.

What are the most common benefits of this surgery?

Replacing a lost tooth is vital to maintaining the overall health and function of the surrounding teeth. It helps avoid tooth migration and loss of structure. It is necessary to avoid loss of bone from the jaw in that area. Implants are an effective means of counteracting these problems. Implants are also very strong and provide a feel as close to a natural tooth as can be currently achieved. Further, implants reduce the impact of the lost tooth on surrounding teeth, as traditional bridge structures often require reduction (filing down) of the two adjacent teeth to hold the bridge in place with crowns. Implanting avoids such alterations to the surrounding teeth when replacing a lost tooth.

Implants, when replacing dentures, provide even more benefits. Dentures are notorious for slipping at the worst possible moments. Poorly fitting dentures can even affect diet, restricting food selections to easily chewed foods. Implants eliminate the possibility of slipping or pinching, and allow food of almost all types to be eaten (other than extremely hard foods such as chewing on ice, pits, or popcorn kernels, which is very bad for the implants and not good for natural teeth, either). In short, implants are the closest way to surgically restore a natural tooth to its original condition.

How is the procedure performed?

Under local anesthesia, the first step for many implant procedures is the exposure of the bone where the implant is to be made. This is followed by placement of the implant into the exposed jawbone. Implants that are placed in the bone are called endosteal implants and are made of titanium or a titanium alloy because this metal does not adversely interact with biological tissue. After placement of the implant a cover screw is put on.

After healing, the cover screw is removed and a healing abutment or a temporary crown is placed in the implant. Temporary crowns are generally used for esthetic reasons, when the implant is in a place that is visible. Both healing abutments and temporary crowns allow the tissue around the implant to be trained to grow around the final prosthetics tooth.

Impressions are taken to make a custom abutment that takes into account the shape of the neck of the implant. The prosthetic tooth is sometimes attached to a gold cylinder that can be screwed into the abutment or it can be directly cemented onto the abutment.

How long does the surgery take?

Surgery time will vary greatly depending on the number of implants.

Where will the procedure be performed?

The implant procedure generally occurs in the office of an oral surgeon or periodontist that Dr. Mumma will refer you to.

How much pain is there?

Local anesthesia avoids the pain that would be involved in the surgical procedures during implantation and uncovering of the implant fixture. Most patients state that implants involve less pain and discomfort than a tooth extraction.

What can I expect after the procedure?

Following surgery, there will probably be bleeding, controlled by biting down on some gauze. Swelling may be controlled using an ice pack. Gums are generally sore after both surgeries for seven to ten days. You may be given antibiotics to take during the period immediately following the surgery.