Confusion Surrounding Dental Implants

Clearing The Confusion Surrounding Dental Implants

I Received An Implant, but There Is No Tooth In My Mouth!

This is always a topic of discussion as I find that there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding dental implants.

You’re missing a tooth…you choose to replace it with an implant…you look in your mouth after the procedure, and there is still an empty space! What is going on?

When it comes to this topic, the source of the problem is lack of education and miscommunication between the dental team and the patient.

An Issue of Miscommunication

Let’s explore this together and find out why this is so confusing. A lot of the problem stems from our dental education.

When I say “our,” I mean the training of the dentist.

We study and learn all the technical and biologic concepts to provide excellent services.

Dental education should have a whole slew of courses in proper communication and dissemination of information.

Teaching Dentists how to Talk to Their Patients

When I teach other doctors the skills that are necessary to perform an implant procedure, I have to focus on a lot of details. My students need to learn the skills that will allow them to diagnose and treat correctly. That is the majority of the courses.

However, I do spend time teaching them how to talk to the patient.

The Definition of a Dental Implant


A Dental Implant is an Artificial Root

Why are implants so confusing? To the patient, an implant means a tooth. To a doctor, an implant means an anchor.

Yes, the implant portion of an implant procedure is the anchor in the jaw.

One good way to look at this is to think of the implant as an artificial root.

Just like we have roots on our teeth to lock our teeth into our mouths, we can use an implant to secure our artificial teeth into our jaws. A natural root will anchor a natural tooth. An artificial root will anchor an artificial tooth.

Another name for an artificial root is a dental implant.

Replacing the Natural Root With an Artificial One

That is why when the implant is placed there is no tooth in the mouth. We had only set an artificial or replacement root for the one that was lost when the tooth went away.

The tooth could have gone away as the result of a surgical procedure. The tooth could have gone away as the result of an accident. Sometimes the tooth never went away at all as it was missing from birth. All three of these examples have the fact that no root is there for whatever reason. We replace the missing natural root with an artificial root.

Setting A Tooth Into The Implant

The next question is how do we get a tooth onto the artificial root? How do we get a tooth on top of the dental implant?

Stabilizing the Root

The first thing that has to happen is the dental implant has to become rock solid and stable in the mouth. This occurs over time as the bone of the jaw grows into and around the implant. This implant needs to support chewing food. It has to become an integral part of you. Depending on the situation and a variety of factors, this stabilization requires a minimum of a month or as much as 6-7 months.

Yes, there are exceptions such as teeth in a day, but that is an entirely different type of implant procedure. We have spoken about those in the past and will talk about them more in the future. I want to focus today on a single tooth implant.

Time is the magic formula for locking into the jaw. Once the implant, our artificial root, is firmly secured in place then the process of making a crown can begin.

Crafting the  Dental Crown

Impressions or digital scans are used to create a crown that has a lifelike appearance. Together with the implant, we now have a total tooth replacement.

Tooth Replacement in our Office

Both steps of this procedure, the placement of the artificial root and making of the tooth on top are performed in our office.

Both steps are done by me with your input along the way. After all, it is your tooth. We design and create it together.

Hopefully, I’ve successfully cleared up any lingering confusion surrounding dental implants you may have had.

If you feel that you need more information about this wonderful procedure, please call Megan at 440.951.7856 and make an appointment to stop in and see us. 

I look forward to hearing from you!

Jeffrey Gross, DDSFAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

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