Implants and Bone Grafts

Dental implants are increasingly viewed as an ideal solution for a missing tooth. Dr. Ulm has considerable experience placing implants with beautiful, functional results.

The Implant Procedure

The process of placing an implant involves extracting the tooth that cannot be saved and depending on the location of the tooth and the condition of the surrounding bone, placing a bone graft in the cavity left by the tooth in the jaw. The bone graft fills the cavity in the bone with a matrix which promotes natural bone growth and stems the bone loss that would otherwise begin occurring immediately. Bone grafts also give more “purchase” for the implant and keep it more stable. After the extraction site has healed, a zirconia implant, which looks like a small screw, is placed in the jawbone. An abutment – or an attachment point for a crown – is placed on the implant, and a beautiful porcelain crown is attached to the abutment.

Why Implants?

When a tooth cannot be saved and must be extracted, it can leave a space that compromises your smile aesthetically and/or your mouth functionally. Natural teeth do more than just help you chew. They also stimulate the jawbone and maintain bone structure. When a tooth is lost, bone recession begins almost immediately and continues throughout your life. A dental implant is the closest thing to replacing the natural tooth. An implant stimulates the bone much as a tooth does and helps maintain a healthy, strong jaw. Implants also fill the space left by a missing tooth without compromising the adjacent teeth as a bridge would do. Finally, if a crown placed on an implant ever needs to be replaced, the cost of replacement is considerably less than if a problem were to occur with a bridge, since the bridge is comprised of many units vs. the implant’s single crown.

Implant Material: Zirconia vs. Titanium

There are two materials available for use in dental implants: metallic titanium, or ceramic zirconia.  In an effort to maintain completely metal-free dentistry, Dr. Ulm places only zirconia implants.  Zirconia implants have been used in Europe for decades and have a proven track record for excellent bone integration, healing, strength, and function.