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Arnold, MD Dental Implants

Whether you’re missing one or several teeth, Dr. Michelle Esposito can restore your smile with expertly crafted dental implants.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are artificial teeth that are permanently imbedded into your jawbone. Unlike removable fixtures, they will look and function just like your natural teeth. They are made of three parts:

Illustration of the three components of a dental implant

  • Post – Surgically implanted into your jaw, this screw-like fixture replaces the root form of the missing tooth. It provides a strong and long-lasting foundation for the replacement tooth.
  • Abutment –  A connector known as an abutment is screwed onto the implanted root to hold a crown in place.
  • Dental crown – A custom ceramic crown is then affixed to complete the restoration, leaving you with a fully functional and beautifully natural-looking tooth.

Applications and Advantages of Dental Implants

Dental implants can replace individual teeth, as shown in the graphic below. If the surrounding teeth are healthy, an implant will allow for restoration of the missing tooth without having to prepare the adjacent teeth for crowns as needed for a dental bridge. This makes the dental implant a more conservative treatment by preserving existing healthy tooth structure.

If several consecutive teeth are missing, implants can also be used to support a bridge or a full arch of dentures. Visit our implant overdenture page to read up on how implant support greatly improves denture function.

In addition to improved function of the restored tooth, dental implants also prevent bone loss in the surrounding jaw. When you’ve lost a tooth, your body’s natural response is to resorb the bone that had once held the root in place. Over time, this leads to shrinkage of the jaw and the structure of your face begins to appear sunken in. This is known as facial collapse, and the consequences are more than just cosmetic. As the bone continues to erode away, treatment becomes more difficult, and usually involves bone grafting to fortify the jawbone. Fortunately, the presence of an implant stops the progression of facial collapse and helps to stimulate healthy bone growth.

Dental Implant Placement at Chesapeake Dental Arts

Proper placement of dental implants requires strategic planning. Dr. Esposito will first perform a thorough examination complete with advanced imaging using cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT). With laser-sharp precision, Dr. Esposito will determine the ideal placement, angle, and depth of each implant. For single-tooth restorations, she will often perform the surgery in the office. For more complex cases, or when several implants are needed, Dr. Esposito will refer you to an expert oral surgeon for surgical implantation.

Following your surgery, the site may need time to heal as your bone fuses with the implant fixture. The healing process, called osseointegration, varies in duration from patient to patient, but typically takes several weeks to a few months. In some cases, the implant can be placed in such a manner as to shorten or eliminate the healing period, allowing for immediate placement of the restoration.

The final step is to attach the replacement tooth or teeth. While many dentists will use stock abutments to help keep costs lower, Dr. Esposito uses only custom abutments to ensure the highest quality results. Look closely at the image below from Glidewell labs that demonstrates the difference.

A comparative image of a dental implant showing the improved fit of a custom abutment vs stock

The custom abutment on the right side of the illustration depicts a perfect fit against the gumline. This is only possible when the abutment is contoured to the exact dimensions of your specific socket. Now compare the stock abutment on the left side. Notice the gap at the gumline? This tiny pocket provides a safe haven for food and debris to build up. It is difficult to keep clean and can put you at an increased risk for gum disease. Furthermore, the custom abutment provides a more natural and lifelike appearance that will blend seamlessly into your smile.

As a graduate of the prestigious Dawson Academy, Dr. Esposito has received extensive post-graduate training in implantology. If you would like to schedule an appointment, call our office at 410-757-6200 or request an appointment online.