What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a prosthetic replacement for a missing tooth performed regularly by Dr. Richard S. Lewis D.M.D. & Associates. Natural teeth consist of the crown and the root. The crown is the visible section that is covered with white enamel. Supporting the crown is the tooth root, which extends into the jawbone. The root is the part of the tooth that is effectively replaced by an implant.

There are commonly three parts to what is described as an implant – the implant device itself (which is inserted directly into the bone); the abutment – the piece that connects the implant device to the third part – the overlying crown or denture.

Today’s implants are predominantly made of titanium, a metal that is bio-compatible and offers strength and durability, as well as a unique property of fusing directly to bone – the process known as osseointegration. Other materials, such as zirconium, might be used to make implants in the future. For now, these materials have not been perfected for general use.


Implant Procedure

How are dental implants placed?

Dr. Richard S. Lewis, D.M.D. & Associates performs dental implant procedures at their office, conveniently located at 281 Cambridge Street, Burlington MA 01803. Local anesthesia is usually adequate for these out-patient procedures. Nitrous oxide may also be used. Adjunctive surgical procedures, such as bone augmentation, may be performed as separate procedures or at the same time as implant placement. Each surgical procedure is different, depending on the clinical situation as well as the preferences of the patient and Dr. Richard S. Lewis, D.M.D. & Associates.

Why is the surgical procedure a three-step process?

The most widely practiced method of placing dental implants is a “staged surgery” procedure. The first stage consists of surgically burying the implant (which replaces the tooth root) flush with the bone but underneath the gum. This protects the implant from force while it is healing. At the end of the healing period, the implant needs to be surgically exposed by removing some of the overlying gum.

At this second stage, Dr. Richard S. Lewis, D.M.D. & Associates checks the implant for its successful integration and connects some form of post which penetrates through the gum into the mouth. This post is called the abutment. Abutments come in many forms and can be stock-manufactured or custom molded by Dr. Richard S. Lewis, D.M.D. & Associates in conjunction with the dental laboratory. The gum is allowed to heal around the abutment and form a cuff or collar through which Dr. Richard S. Lewis, D.M.D. & Associates has access to the implant when preparing the final restorative stage of placing the prosthetic tooth or teeth.

If you have lost one or more teeth, dental implants are an excellent treatment option!

Tooth loss can occur for a variety of reasons – congenial absence, trauma, dental disease (e.g. caries or periodontal disease), as well as mechanical failure.

What is the overall success rate for dental implants?

Given the decades of clinical and scientific research, dental implant success rates have improved dramatically since the introduction of dental implant surgery and the dental profession can proudly report success rates well above 90% for most implant patients. Similarly, long-term success rates are in the high 90% success range and are likewise improving. When a dental implant has not successfully integrated, it may need to be removed, as it cannot easily be “converted” to osseointegrate. Dr. Richard S. Lewis, D.M.D. & Associates will give you experienced based advice relating to your particular situation. A replacement implant can be placed but it may require some months of healing time and possibly bone augmentation (repair by means of grafting). Likewise, if a previous placed implant has lost significant amounts of supporting bone, there are currently no treatments that can predictably restore the lost bone after it has been in function in the mouth.

Dr. Richard S. Lewis, D.M.D. & Associates have significant experience in dental implants, gingival grafting, sinus lifts and ostetomes; having performed numerous procedures. Dr. Richard S. Lewis, D.M.D. & Associates are friendly and knowledgeable to answer any questions you may have. It is important to review and discuss with Dr. Richard S. Lewis, D.M.D. & Associates all available options to you in your particular circumstance prior to making any treatment decisions. Dr. Richard S. Lewis, D.M.D. & Associates is conveniently located at 281 Cambridge Street, Burlington MA 01803 and accepts most major dental insurances. Contact us for a consultation today at (781) 272-5890 or drlewis@richardlewisdmd.com .