A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Dental implants are an ideal option for people in good general oral health who have lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, an injury, or some other reason.
Successful implants can help maintain the integrity of your remaining natural teeth. In addition to looking and functioning like a natural tooth, implant-supported bridges do not require the grinding down of adjacent teeth which is required for tooth-supported bridges. Patients receiving implants may require bone grafts to rebuild the area into a stable foundation for the implant.
There is no set recovery time for implants, as each patient has unique healing times. Treatment completion can vary from three to nine months, but patients will not have a hole in their smile for the entire period. There are several temporary options to fill that space until the implant is fully healed and ready to be restored.
While usually a straightforward process, implant placement is a technical procedure that requires advanced training. As a diplomate of the American Academy of Periodontology, Dr. Thunell has passed rigorous national testing demonstrating his competency and efficiency. He has placed thousands of implants since completing his training.
Gingival (Gum) Grafting
Gingival grafting, also called gum grafting, is a surgical procedure in which existing gum tissue is augmented. This surgery is indicated when exposed root surfaces (recession) need to be covered and/or the patient needs increased healthy tissue to support a stable dentition.
Recession can result in severe tooth sensitivity, altered smile aesthetics, bone loss and infection. There are several different techniques and materials used in gingival grafts. Dr. Thunell will discuss the best option for you after a thorough review of your case and medical history.
Average healing time for a gum graft is approximately 10–14 days. Most people return to normal activities after 24 hours.
Regenerative Bone Grafting
When periodontal disease has destroyed the bone supporting your teeth, a regenerative bone graft can reverse some of the damage. As the new bone integrates, it can provide more solid support for either natural teeth or dental implants. During a bone graft, Dr. Thunell will fold back your gum tissue, thoroughly debride and clean out any infectious bacteria, and place one of several materials against your natural bone. The gum tissue will then be folded back over and stitched carefully into place. The types of materials used vary by case, but Dr. Thunell will work with you to select the option best for your oral health.
Average healing time for a regenerative bone graft is approximately 4-6 months, with people usually returning to normal activity within 1-2 days.
Periodontal disease usually occurs when plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums, causing a chronic inflammatory response in which the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. While periodontal disease can be a manifestation of systemic diseases like heart disease or diabetes, it often occurs in patients that are otherwise healthy. Symptoms of periodontal disease include red, swollen gums; bleeding while brushing or flossing; loose or separating teeth; mouth sores; persistent bad breath and a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite. Tobacco use, stress, medications, teeth clenching, and poor nutrition are all risk factors in periodontal disease.
While preventing periodontal disease is ideal, when periodontal disease has been diagnosed there are successful treatments available. The first nonsurgical step involves a special deep cleaning called scaling and root planning. Six to eight weeks after scaling and root planning, the periodontal condition is evaluated again to determine if further treatment is needed.
Many patients visit our office concerned about having “short” teeth or a “gummy” smile. Usually, the teeth may actually be the proper lengths, but they're covered with too much gum tissue. To correct this, Dr. Thunell performs a dental crown lengthening procedure. Excess gum and bone tissue are reshaped to expose more of the natural tooth. This can be done to one tooth to even your gum line or to several teeth to expose a natural, broad smile.
Crown lengthening may also be recommended to make a restorative or cosmetic dental procedure possible. If a tooth is decayed, broken below the gum line, or has insufficient tooth structure for a restoration (crown or bridge), crown lengthening adjusts the gum and bone level to expose more of the tooth so it can be restored.
For more information about periodontal procedures and periodontal health, visit our Patient Information page, or search below for subjects.