Call (610) 435-6161
1251 S. Cedar Crest Blvd. #311
Allentown, PA 18103
Call (610) 435-6161
800 Main St #105
Hellertown, PA 18055

Lehigh Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

(610) 435-6161
1251 S. Cedar Crest Blvd. #311
Allentown, PA 18103
800 Main St #105
Hellertown, PA 18055

Dental Implants


Diagram of dental Implants by dentist in Allentown, PA.
Losing teeth, no matter if it is only one or you lose several, has a significant impact on your whole life. Fortunately, tooth loss can be treated. There are several options available for replacing your missing teeth. Traditionally, your options were limited to bridges or dentures. Today, in addition to these traditional treatments, there are also dental implants. At Lehigh Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we are proud to offer dental implants as a long-term solution for replacing your missing teeth, giving you your life back.

What Causes Tooth Loss?

You can lose teeth for various reasons. One of the biggest causes of tooth loss is gum, or periodontal, disease. When you have gum disease, you gum tissue swells and pulls away from your teeth. This creates pockets that bacteria fall into. Once there, the bacteria begin attacking the periodontal ligaments and the jawbone, the structures responsible for holding your teeth in place. These supporting structures become weak, which then causes the teeth to become loose. Without treatment, they eventually begin to fall out.

Other causes for tooth loss include:
•  Facial trauma. This can be due to such things as a sports injury, a car accident, or a fall.
•  Bruxism. This is a condition in which you grind and clench your teeth. Chronic bruxism can cause the supporting structures to weaken, which eventually can lead to tooth loss.
•  Tooth decay. If your teeth are severely decayed, they may be beyond saving with fillings or crowns, which can lead to the need for extractions.
•  Severe tooth damage. Teeth that are damaged below the gum line are often beyond saving with crowns, and therefore need to be removed.

The Effects of Losing Teeth

Losing teeth has several major effects. One of the most obvious impacts of tooth loss is the effects that it has on your smile. Without teeth, whether one or several, the quality of your smile decreases. This can also have a significant impact on your confidence. Other effects of tooth loss include
•  Difficulty eating. Without teeth, it becomes more challenging to properly bite and chew your food. When you cannot properly chew, your digestion is affected, which can have a significant impact on your overall nutrition and health.
•  Trouble speaking. Your teeth play an important role in your speech, controlling airflow. Without your teeth, you may develop a lisp or have other difficulties speaking, which can lead to miscommunication.
•  Changes in your jawbone. The teeth, more specifically their roots, play an important role in stimulating your jawbone. This stimulation tells the body to send essential nutrients it needs to remain strong and healthy. When you lose teeth, this stimulation is decreased. Over time the bone weakens. The jaw begins to change shape, which can lead to healthy teeth shifting out of alignment. This can lead to serious complications. Additionally, changes in your jaw can also impact your facial appearance, causing sagging skin, jowls, and wrinkles.

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are a modern alternative to traditional bridges and dentures. Implants consist of 3 components and involve a surgical procedure for placement.
•  A post. The post is the actual implant itself, which is surgically placed directly in your jawbone. During the healing phase, your jawbone fuses to the post in a natural process known as osseointegration. This process stabilizes the post within your jaw, enabling it to become a strong, secure root to hold your replacement tooth, or teeth, in place.
•  An abutment. The abutment, also called the connector, is placed on the exposed end of the implant. This piece stabilizes your replacement tooth in place.
•  A crown. The crown is the actual replacement tooth. It is made from ceramic, a material that perfectly imitates the functions of your natural tooth enamel, including color as well as how enamel reflects light.

The Types of Dental Implants

Dental implants are a versatile treatment that can be used in some different situations. Whether you are missing a single tooth, several teeth, or even all of your teeth, there is an option for you.
•  Single tooth implants. A single tooth implant is exactly what the name suggests. A single implant supports a single crown and is used to replace just one missing tooth.
•  Multiple tooth implants or implant supported bridges. This type of implant is used to replace 2 or more consecutive missing teeth, taking the place of a traditional bridge. The number of implant posts required depends mainly on the number of teeth you are missing as well as your jawbone.
•  Full arch replacement or an implant supported denture. If you are missing an entire arch of teeth, dental implants may be an option. Typically in this situation, a full arch of teeth is replaced using 6 to 8 posts to support an entire arch of new teeth.
•  All-on-4® Treatment Concept. If you do not have enough bone mass in your jaw, your jaw may not be able to support the 6 to 8 implant posts necessary for a regular full arch replacement. Without sufficient bone mass, your implants may fail. Even the failure of one implant can compromise the entire restoration. In this situation, you may be a candidate for All-on-4. This treatment uses only 4 posts, which are strategically placed within your jaw, to support your full arch of new teeth. With this treatment, you avoid the need for a bone graft, saving you from having to undergo a second surgery.

A Brief History of Dental Implants

Dental implants are often thought to be a modern treatment for replacing missing teeth. While the implants we know and use today are the result of modern research, implants themselves have a rather long history. Thousands of years ago, many cultures used implants to replace missing teeth after death as a way to improve the appearance of the body in preparation for the afterlife. There is also some evidence that implants were also used long ago while people were still alive. The mandible of a young Mayan woman, dating back to 600 AD, was found with carved bone and shell in her jaw. While originally thought to be placed after death, it was later discovered that her bone had begun to fuse to the implant, showing that it had been placed while she was still alive.

Modern dental implants are the result of an accidental discovery made in the 1950s. During this time, Swedish orthopedic surgeon Per-Ingvar Brånemark was researching the healing and regeneration of bone. At one point, he placed a titanium cylinder in the femur of a rabbit. When he tried to remove the cylinder later, he discovered that the bone had fused to it, and the cylinder could not be removed. Brånemark had discovered osseointegration. This discovery triggered further research, which involved the use of both animal and human subjects. Eventually, he developed dental implants, which were placed successfully for the first time in 1965.

Over the years, Brånemark continued his research. He entered into a partnership with Bofors AB, which is now known as Nobel Industries. This company helped him to manufacture and market his products. Eventually, Bofors AB created Nobelpharma, now known as Nobel Biocare, a company that focuses solely on the development of dental implants. Continuous research and development have led to improvements in dental implants that have greatly increased their strength, stability, and reliability. Nobel Biocare is now the industry leader in dental implants, and over 7 million Brånemark systems have been placed worldwide. Read more about the History of Dental Implants.

How Are Dental Implants Placed?

Unlike traditional treatments for replacing missing teeth, dental implants require a surgical procedure for placement. This procedure is done under a local anesthetic, which ensures that you do not feel any pain. We can also provide you with sedation, which can help you to relax and remain comfortable while we place your implants. Surgery begins with small incisions created in your gums, exposing your jawbone underneath. Next, holes are drilled into the bone, and the implant posts are placed inside. Your gums are sutured closed around the posts, and temporary teeth are placed on them.

The recovery process for dental implants varies from patient to patient. Typically, it takes anywhere from several weeks to several months. During this time, the bone gradually fuses to the posts, stabilizing them within your jaw. Several follow-ups during the recovery process ensure that the bone is fusing properly and that there are no issues present.

In the early stages of recovery, you may feel some pain and swelling. This can often be managed with over the counter or prescription pain relievers. Ice and heat can help as well. Additionally, you should stick to a soft food diet at the beginning of the recovery process, which will help to prevent discomfort. As you begin to heal, you can gradually resume both normal activities as well as a normal diet. You will be provided aftercare instructions that will help you to ensure that your recovery goes smoothly.

Once you have fully healed from surgery, the process for placing your final restorations begins. This process generally takes two appointments. At the first appointment, we remove your temporary teeth, place the abutments, and take impressions. The impressions are used to design and create custom restorations. Once they are complete, we check them for fit and bite and secure them into place with small screws.

Caring for Your Dental Implants

Dental implants can, and should, be cared for just like the rest of your natural teeth. They should be brushed and flossed daily. While the ceramic crowns cannot develop decay and cavities, they can still collect plaque and bacteria. If the crowns are not properly cared for, the buildup of these substances can lead to gum disease. Gum disease can affect you even if all of your teeth have been replaced with implants. Bacteria that fall below your swollen tissue attack your jawbone, which compromises the stability of your implants. Taking proper care of your implants ensures that your smile remains healthy and beautiful. Read more about Caring for your Dental Implants.

What Benefits Do Dental Implants Offer?

There are several benefits associated with dental implants. These benefits include
•  Your teeth look completely natural. Ceramic mimics the properties of natural tooth enamel, providing a completely natural, beautiful smile. No one will be able to tell the difference between your new teeth and your real teeth.
•  The teeth feel just like real teeth. There is no need to worry about adjusting to a foreign object in your mouth. Your speech is completely restored.
•  The crowns are held securely in place. You do not have to worry about them slipping out of place. This avoids denture sores. Additionally, secure teeth mean that you can eat all of your favorite foods without fear. With the ability to properly chew completely restored, your digestion and overall nutrition improve.
•  Greater comfort. Your crowns are supported by the titanium posts, rather than your gums. This means no unnecessary pressure on sensitive tissue, preventing discomfort.
•  Ease of care. Your implants can be cared for just like your real teeth.
•  They preserve the integrity of your jawbone. The posts of your implants stimulate your jawbone just like the roots of your real teeth. This restores the stimulation to the bone, triggering the body to send essential nutrients. As a result, bone loss in the jaw is stopped, and new bone loss is prevented, helping to maintain the health and strength of your jaw.
•  Implants provide a long-term, even permanent, solution. Because the posts are integrated into your jawbone, they essentially become a part of your jaw. The teeth are even affixed to the posts with small screws and are not meant to be removed. If the crowns do become damaged, they can be replaced without needing to replace the posts.
Read more about the Benefits of Dental Implants.

Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?

While implants can be used in some different situations, an initial consultation is needed to determine that they are the best solution for you.
•  You are missing at least one tooth. Dental implants are a versatile treatment that can replace a single tooth or many teeth.
•  You are in good overall health. Because implants require surgery, it is important that you be in good overall health. We will go over your medical history during your consultation. If you have a chronic health condition, such as diabetes, it is important that the condition be well-managed.
•  You do not use tobacco products or are at least willing to abstain during your treatment. Cigarettes and other tobacco products can interfere with the healing process, increasing your risk for infections and implant failure.
•  Your jawbone is in good condition. Implants rely on your jawbone for stability. If you do not have enough bone mass in your jaw during your consultation, we may recommend a bone graft first, or you may be a candidate for the All-on-4 treatment concept.

Dental implants off you a unique treatment for replacing missing teeth that not only restores the functions of those teeth but gives you back a perfectly natural, beautiful smile as well. If you are missing teeth, and are interested in finding out if dental implants are the right solution for you, call Lehigh Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at (610) 435-6161 today.

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Allentown Office
1251 S. Cedar Crest Blvd. #311
Allentown, PA 18103

Call (610) 435-6161
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800 Main St #105
Hellertown, PA 18055

Call (610) 435-6161
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