Service - Implants

dental implants - santa cruzAs dental professionals, our priority is to keep your natural teeth strong and healthy.  However, at times it may become necessary to replace missing or badly diseased teeth to restore proper function, such as chewing and speaking, and to improve a beautiful smile. Dental implants are one option that offers both comfort and stability because they act very similar to a natural tooth.  


A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed directly into the jawbone to replace a tooth that was lost due to advanced tooth decay, gum disease, or injury. They are made from titanium and other materials that are well suited for use in the human body. Dental implants have a very high success rate and can be used in a variety of situations, such as replacing a single tooth, multiple teeth, or to help increase the stability and retention of complete or partial dentures.  In most cases where implants are an option they are the prefered choice for replacing missing teeth.


In general, treatment with dental implants is divided into three phases and can take anywhere from three to twelve months depending on the complexity of the case and needs of the patient.  

Phase One: Treatment Planning

Proper planning is integral to a successful outcome.  Each patient needs to complete a comprehensive examination to thoroughly evaluate their needs and to discuss treatment options, including any alternatives.  The medical history is an important part of this evaluation as any risk factors for implant treatment, such as tobacco use and diabetes, need to be identified and discussed.  Xrays, intraoral photos, and diagnostic casts are also required as these provide critical information for the following surgical and restorative phases.  

Phase Two: Implant Placement

During this phase, the dentist places the implant in the jaw.  This may occur at the same time as tooth removal, called immediate placement, or several months after the tooth has been removed, called delayed placement.  Whether the implant is placed immediately or at a later time depends on several factors, including the amount of bone at the site and/or the presence of infection.  In order to have successful replacement of a tooth with a dental implant, there needs to be enough bone both vertically and horizontally to support the implant long-term.  Therefore, it is often necessary to place a bone graft either prior to or during implant placement to help augment the amount of bone at the surgical site.  Once the implant has been placed in the jaw it needs to heal for approximately three to six months while it fuses with the bone, a process called "osseointegration."  

Phase Three: Restoration of the Implant

Once the implant has osseointegrated we can begin the process of restoring it with either a single tooth, multiple teeth, or by using it as an anchor to stabilize and retain complete or partial dentures.  


Who’s a good candidate for implant treatment?  You are, if you’re in good health and have healthy gums and adequate bone to support an implant.  You must be committed to thorough oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) to keep your mouth and implant healthy.  You must also schedule regular dental visits to help maintain your oral health.  

Call us today if you have any additional questions regarding dental implants.