Dr. Ashwini Bhave’s goal is to offer the most advanced solutions to common dental problems, including tooth loss. Dental implants are considered the standard of care for the replacement of missing teeth. An implant recreates the entire structure of a natural, healthy tooth, including the root and crown. Anchored in the jawbone, implants restore a complete smile and full chewing and biting function.
The restoration and replacement of teeth with dental implants requires the skill and experience of a highly trained prosthodontist like Dr. Bhave. She specializes in the replacement of missing or broken-down teeth. She honed her leading-edge skills in dental implant treatment with a year-long, full-time training fellowship program in dental implant surgery.
With her advanced training, Dr. Bhave is able to perform all aspects of dental implant planning and placement in our office, saving you from the inconvenience and expense of visiting different specialists to complete your treatment.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
Dental implant posts are surgically placed in the jawbone beneath the gap left by the missing tooth. The posts can support an individual tooth (usually a crown) or stabilize a dental bridge, partial or complete denture prosthetic. The replacement teeth are carefully crafted to match the surrounding natural teeth in color, shape and size. When planned and placed correctly, dental implants are virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth!
Advantages of Dental Implants
Implants are the next best thing to real, healthy teeth for the following reasons:
- Implants are the only restoration anchored in the jawbone, providing unparalleled strength and stability. The jawbone grows around the implant post, holding it in place.
- Implants allow you to chew your food thoroughly, without pain or discomfort.
- The placement of the implant post in the jawbone helps to stimulate the bone. When teeth are missing for a prolonged period of time, the bone can resorb and deteriorate, resulting in loss of jawbone height. Keeping the bone stimulated with an implant prevents these complications.
- Implants are self-sufficient and do not attach to the surrounding teeth or rely on them for support. This helps keep the surrounding teeth completely intact and strong.
- Implants prevent the surrounding teeth from shifting or drifting around in the mouth and causing problems with bite alignment or chewing ability.
- Implants can be brushed and flossed just like natural teeth, and cannot develop cavities.
- With the proper placement, care and attention, implants can be a permanent solution to tooth loss.
- Implants have an extremely high success rate. The techniques and technology used to plan and place implants continue to improve.
The Process of Getting a Dental Implant
Getting a dental implant requires several dental appointments. It can take up to a few months to complete the process.
Preparing for Implant Placement
Some patients require jawbone grafting to build up areas of weak jawbone so they can sufficiently retain and support an implant post. Dr. Bhave uses the latest materials and techniques to make this process minimally invasive and efficient.
Other patients require gentle extractions to remove broken-down or failing teeth. Dr. Bhave performs extractions in a way that preserves the maximum amount of surrounding gum and bone tissue, and speeds healing by minimizing any trauma or swelling.
These procedures are performed prior to implant placement.
Planning Out Implant Placement
Dr. Bhave carefully plans out the entire implant placement process using leading-edge technology. To start, she takes digital images and a three-dimensional CT scan of your mouth to look at your teeth, jawbone and surrounding structures. Then, she maps out the exact position and angle of the insertion of each implant.
Using a surgical guide as a template to mark where and at what angle the implant should be inserted, Dr. Bhave places the implant. She uses a groundbreaking technique called osseodensification that compacts and densifies the jawbone rather than cutting it. Sometimes this technique eliminates the need for bone grafting altogether, expediting the implant placement process.
After the post or posts have been placed, Dr. Bhave cements the replacement tooth or teeth into place, ensuring a great fit and feel.
Ensuring Your Comfort
Dr. Bhave and our team take great measures to help you feel comfortable and relaxed throughout treatment. Every step will be explained to you in detail so you know what to expect. Dr. Bhave uses minimally invasive techniques to reduce the risk of discomfort and accelerate your healing time. Sedation dentistry may be involved if needed for your comfort and relaxation.
Traditionally, dental implants have been crafted from high-quality titanium materials. This strong, durable metal has good biocompatibility — meaning it interacts well with the jawbone to create a stable base for an artificial tooth.
However, due to recent health trends, more patients are seeking non-metal dental implants. Also, a very small percentage of patients have a titanium allergy and are not appropriate candidates for traditional titanium implants. Zirconia, which is a ceramic material, has quickly emerged as an appealing option for patients seeking non-metal implants.
Approved for use in the U.S. since 2007, zirconia implants are hard, strong and anti-allergenic. They have great biocompatibility and work well with the hard and soft tissues of the mouth.
Zirconia implants are constructed slightly differently from titanium implants. Titanium implants consist of a post or screw and a separate abutment piece. The abutment piece connects the post or screw to the artificial tooth. Zirconia implants come as one piece with the post and abutment; the crown is cemented to the top of that piece. With fewer parts, there is less chance of bacteria accumulating in the junction areas, and no chance of the abutment, screw or post loosening. Although not as strong as titanium, zirconia implants have a low risk of fracture, and the materials and techniques continue to evolve.
Dr. Bhave looks at different factors when considering whether to recommend titanium versus zirconia implants. She will review your medical history, allergies/reactivities and biocompatibility testing to determine which implant is the best option for you.
Dental Implant FAQs
How long does the process take?
The entire process can take as few as three months. If bone grafting or jaw surgery are required, however, it may take as long as six months. Your actual time in the dentist’s chair is not significantly different from other dental procedures. Often as few as three appointments are all that are necessary. What accounts for the extended waiting time is the healing process, as the bone fuses with and secures your new implants.
How durable are dental implants?
As technology has advanced, implants have become stronger and more long-lasting. In fact, your new implant will probably be stronger than the tooth it replaces. Studies have shown that 95 percent of patients, or more, can expect implants to last at least 30 years. In cases where all teeth have been replaced, that success figure ranges from 80 to 90 percent.
How many dental implants can I receive?
Dental implants can replace one tooth, several teeth or every tooth. By using implants as anchors, experienced Bay Area dentist Dr. Ashwini Bhave is also able to create permanent dentures to replace missing teeth, if desired. With this option, as few as two implants can securely hold in place a bridge for the upper or lower mouth.
Is the process painful?
Patients report that there is actually less discomfort than would typically be experienced during a tooth extraction. Dr. Bhave uses local anesthetic for dental implant placement, and also offers intravenous sedation if requested. Most of the discomfort will occur at home, after the anesthesia wears off. Swelling and discomfort can be effectively managed by medications that will be prescribed for you.
Why are dental implants superior to dentures?
Dental implants look, function and feel like natural teeth. They don’t need special maintenance or removal for cleaning. You brush and floss implants, just as your dentist has always recommended for all of your permanent teeth. Because implants are anchored in your jaw bone, they are stable and will not slip or move around like some dentures. You won’t fear biting into tough foods, or wonder if your teeth might fall out during a conversation. The titanium posts of implants also keep the jawbone stimulated, just as the roots of natural teeth do; and this prevents the bone loss and changes to your facial profile that can occur with missing teeth or dentures.
What are All-on-Four dental implants?
All-on-Four is a descriptive term for a type of full mouth implant restoration. As the name suggests, a customized arch of fabricated artificial teeth is held in place in the mouth by four dental implants. With these four implants placed strategically across your upper mouth, and four on the bottom, you can enjoy a full set of securely attached, functional teeth.
The first phase of the process is exactly the same as a regular dental implant procedure, involving surgical placement of secure titanium posts. Detailed three-dimensional measurements are used to create a customized arch to span the breadth of your mouth. As the arch is fabricated, you will wear a temporary arch that will be attached to your new implants.
Schedule a Dental Implant Consultation With Dr. Bhave
If you are interested in replacing a missing or failing tooth with a beautiful, strong dental implant, Dr. Bhave invites you to learn more during a one-on-one consultation. Contact our practice today to request an appointment.