Dental Implants


What are dental implants?

A natural tooth consists of a root and a crown. If you compare natural teeth to implant-supported replacement teeth, you’ll see they have the same basic parts. Both have a crown (the visible part used to chew food). Both have a root that holds the tooth securely under the gum and is anchored into the jaw. The difference is that the implant is made of titanium – the same material used for artificial joints. When you lose a tooth, you lose both the root and the crown. To replace the tooth, the surgeon first replaces the root with a dental implant.

Dental Implant Illustration
Time is allowed for bone to heal and grow around the dental implant. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth.  A support post (abutment) is then placed on the implant and a new replacement tooth (crown) is placed on top of the abutment. If all of your teeth are missing, a variety of treatment options are available to support the replacement teeth.

Surgical Advances in Dental Implants

While dental implants have been around in some form for decades, there are always advances being made and new technology and materials being developed. Drs. Jay and James Harlan stay up to date on new developments in the field of implantology, and we have a number of treatment options that we offer. In some cases, you may need to have the tooth extracted and allow the socket to heal for several months, or you may not have enough bone where a missing tooth is and require a bone graft first. Sometimes, there are even situations where the implant can be placed at the same time as the tooth extraction– minimizing your number of surgical procedures.  Each patient’s treatment plan needs to be tailored to his or her unique situation, and our doctors will meet with you and discuss all of your options at your implant consultation appointment.

Dental implant placement is a team effort between an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. Dr. Jay Harlan or Dr. James Harlan perform the initial tooth extractions, bone grafting if necessary, and implant placement.  The restorative dentist (your dentist) makes and places the permanent crown that you will see. Your dentist will also make any temporary prosthesis needed during the implant process.

“Don’t be afraid to Smile.”

For years I’d felt like a part of my body was missing — because my teeth were. My dentist told me that dental implants would make me feel and look a lot better. OK, I said. Now, I’m thrilled. I can smile, eat anything, and enjoy a good laugh with my friends.