Dental Implant Frequently Asked Questions

1. What questions should I ask, and what should I look for when choosing an implant specialist?

  • Is your implant specialist educated and trained specifically in implant procedures?
  • Do they have ongoing continuing education?
  • How many cases have they been involved in? 
  • How long has this team been working together doing dental implants in Wichita? The IDIA states that “a team … working together … can offer many advantages to their patients … to develop the ideal treatment plan and provide optimal results.” The IDIA states, “if the doctors have worked together for several years, their experience as a team is invaluable.”

Cambridge Family Dentistry has a team of six permanent, full-time doctors and a highly qualified clinical staff that has worked together for many years. Our patients experience these kinds of benefits.

We couldn’t agree more with the IDIA because we have seen the results in the long-term success rates for our patients.

2. What, exactly, are dental implants?

Dental implants are substitute tooth roots that anchor a replacement tooth or crown, a set of replacement teeth, or a denture plate.

An implant is shaped somewhat like a small screw with a smooth head that protrudes above the gum. A prosthetic is attached to this screw.  Through a process called “fusing,” most of the dental implants in Wichita that Cambridge Family Dentistry uses in its protocols attach via a secure mechanical connection to the jaw bone from the time they are placed, and over time, they are fully integrated into the bone.  Traditional implants are not initially stable—not until the fusing takes place. This occurs over a period of months.

Implants do not rely on neighboring teeth for support, have many benefits to oral health, and are an ideal tooth replacement because they look and feel like natural teeth.

Dental Implants in Wichita:

  • are permanent
  • are healthier for your surrounding teeth, gums and jaw
  • are simple to maintain
  • are strong and stable, so you won’t have problems eating certain foods
  • are often able to be completed in one day
  • are a way to improve your comfort and even your speech
  • feel like your own teeth

3. What are the aesthetic benefits of dental implants?

Dental implants help you to look and feel younger because they prevent the bone loss questions that would otherwise occur when missing teeth are replaced with other methods, or go unreplaced. As a result of the implants, your facial structure keeps its youthful shape. This also helps prevent extra wrinkles from forming around the mouth.

Every day you continue with missing teeth or wear dentures or use conventional bridges, you are experiencing bone loss, which can affect your smile and lips — even if you have only one or two missing teeth — the bone loss can make you appear older.

Dental implants feel like your own natural teeth, which helps you feel and act younger, too.

4. What are the different kinds of implants?

All implants are titanium (or, in rare cases, ceramic) replacements for natural tooth roots with a portion of them protruding above the gum.  The part that protrudes above the gum is called an “abutment,” and it is the part that a prosthetic tooth (crown), dental bridge, or full dental plate attaches to.  The implant itself becomes fused with the bone like a natural root, and is permanent.

The prosthetic that attaches to the abutment may be permanently attached, or in some cases, it may be secured in a removable fashion, using ball-and-socket snap fixtures that feature O-rings to make everything snug and secure.

Beyond this, there are other subtle differences among implants—mainly that they come in different shapes and sizes.  The length of the root part of implants is generally the same, but their diameters vary.  Thread depth, thickness and spacing also vary depending on the patient and different areas of the mouth.

Implants are often divided into two main categories: “Standard” and “Mini”

The dividing line is placed along the continuum of sizes.  “Standard” implants are 3mm in diameter or larger (usually 4-5mm), and “mini” implants currently range from 1.8mm up to 2.9mm.

This dividing line is based loosely on “standard” implants being similar in size or bigger than the natural tooth root.  Plus, there are historical reasons for the nomenclature. When Imtec designed and began making what is now the most widely used implant (of less than 3mm diameter), Imtec introduced it under the trade name “Mini Dental Implant” or MDI.  When 3M took over marketing and manufacturing, they kept and further promoted the name.  The name stuck and came to describe any implant less than 3mm diameter.

  • The diameter of the implant can have a dramatic impact on the complication of the procedure required and the length of and discomfort during the recovery period

3mm roughly marks the point above which the procedure becomes much more invasive.  It varies from case to case, but with implants above 3mm diameter, more surgery is necessary – cutting into the gums, excavating bone, sometimes bone-grafts, etc.  With mini-implants (under 3mm), only a small pilot hole is drilled, so there is much less injury to gums, less bone-removal and bleeding, and healing is much quicker.

  • There really is a meaningful difference between mini and standard implants, but it’s based more on the relation of their sizes to human anatomy than to any fundamental differences in the principles of how they work or differences in how they are made.

Many implants, including almost all mini-implants, are one-piece designs.  But, there are some implants that feature a root-replacement part that does not protrude significantly above the gum, and a separate abutment part that is cemented or screwed to the root-replacement part.  The actual prosthetic tooth, bridge or denture would then in turn be attached to the abutment.

5. What are “All-on-Four,” “Smile in a Day,” “Teeth in an Hour” and other options I've heard about?

These are all trademarked terms created by dental supply companies and others for a variety of standard procedures.

  • All-on Four refers to anchoring a full denture with four implants for each jaw bone, upper and lower.
  • Smile in a Day refers to the ability to use your new implants that same day when they are supporting a rigid dental plate.
  • Teeth in an Hour refers to a procedure where you walk out with temporary prosthetics that you can use right away until the permanent ones are attached to the implants.

At Cambridge, we offer all of these procedures—and more, including the protocols we’ve developed since early days of mini-implants, which have many advantages over the conventional implants.  We base our choice of technique on results and the benefits for each of our patients, not on marketing slogans.

  • At Cambridge, we believe we have the best techniques and range of options in the country. 

6. If healing or fusing time is two to six months, how come some places advertise same day implant procedures?

There are several ways a patient can walk out of a clinic with new teeth the same day as their implant procedure.

These claims depend on the methods that particular clinic uses.  Sometimes, it simply means that you’ll be provided with temporary prosthetics that are primarily cosmetic rather than fully functional—while you wait for your gums and bone to heal. After that, the permanent prosthetics will be attached.

In other cases, you may be provided with a temporary “soft” attachment of your permanent prosthetic that protects the implant from being disturbed if too much force is applied.  This will feel noticeably less solid than natural teeth, but after healing, it will be replaced with a more solid attachment.

It’s important to make sure that your implant clinician is applying the correct implants and techniques for your case.  The IDIA recently warned that centers for dental implants in Wichita and other US cities and states are opening throughout the country, advertising that they are the ‘experts’ … in dental implant treatment, as well as more convenient and affordable.”  You don’t want to count on a promise of same-day results only to experience painful damage to the bone-implant bond. Damage will result in complications, additional corrective procedures, and additional expenses.

  • At Cambridge Family Dentistry, we provide new, permanent, functioning teeth the same day for most of our patients!

This is possible because we use an implant design and clinical technique that results in a sturdy and secure mechanical connection to the jaw bone.  This mechanical connection is strong enough to hold your teeth securely, and allows you to eat normally within a day or two. This procedure provides the stability needed for successful long-term, fusing of the bone to the implant.  Over a period of weeks to months, the bone continues to fuse with the implant.  Usually, no additional procedures or exchanging of parts is needed.

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