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Posts for tag: dental implants

By Lee Oppenheimer, DDS, PA
June 28, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures

You’ve invested quite a bit in your new dental implants. And it truly is an investment: because of implants’ potential longevity, their long-term costs could actually be lower than other restorations whose upfront costs might be less.

But to better ensure their longevity, you’ll need to keep your implants and the natural tissues supporting them clean of bacterial plaque, a sticky biofilm that can cause periodontal (gum) disease. Although the implant itself is unaffected by disease, the natural tissues around it can be. ¬†An infection could ultimately weaken the bone supporting the implant and lead to its failure.

Such an infection involving implants could advance rapidly because they don’t have the natural defenses of the original teeth. Our natural teeth are connected to the jaw through the periodontal ligament, a collagen network that attaches to both the teeth and the bone through tiny tissue fibers. This connection also provides access to antibodies produced by the body to fight infection.

By contrast, we place implants directly into the jawbone. While this creates a very secure attachment, the implant won’t have the same connection as teeth with the body’s immune system. That means any infection that develops in surrounding tissues can spread much more rapidly—and so must be dealt with promptly.

Treating this particular form of gum disease (known as peri-implantitis) is similar to infections with natural teeth and gums, with one important difference involving the tools we use to remove plaque from them. While natural teeth can handle metal scalers and curettes, these can create microscopic scratches in the porcelain and metal surfaces of an implant and create havens for further bacterial growth. Instead, we use instruments made of plastic or resin that won’t scratch, as well as ultrasonic equipment to vibrate plaque loose.

To avoid an infection, it’s important that you brush your implants and surrounding tissues just like you would your natural teeth (be sure you use a soft-bristled brush). And keep up regular dental visits for thorough cleanings and checkups to stay ahead of any developing gum infection. Maintaining your dentures will help ensure they continue to brighten your smile for a long time.

If you would like more information on dental implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implant Maintenance: Implant Teeth Must be Cleaned Differently.”

By Lee Oppenheimer, DDS, PA
May 28, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  

It’s time to find out how dental implants can replace your missing teeth for life.

If you are dealing with gaps in your smile due to tooth loss, you may already know first-hand that this affects more than just your appearance. Unfortunately, untreated tooth loss can cause everything from jawbone deterioration to facial wrinkles. If you are looking for a tooth replacement option that’s as close to the real thing as you can possibly get, then it’s time to turn to our periodontists in Hilton Head Island and Hardeeville, Dr. Lee Oppenheimer and Dr. Kane Ramsey, to find out if dental implants are right for you.

What is a dental implant?

An implant is a metal post that is positioned into the jawbone under the gums where it will function like tooth roots and provide a strong,Dental Implants long-term foundation from which to support a false tooth (aka: a dental crown). If you are missing several or all of your teeth, multiple implants can also be placed along the arches of the jawbone to support partial or full dentures.

How do I get a dental implant?

First, you will need to come into one of our offices in either Hilton Head Island or Hardeeville for a consultation with our dental implant specialists to find out if this is the right treatment option to meet your needs. We will perform an oral exam and take X-rays to make sure that your jawbone is strong enough to support an implant.

Once we have determined that you are healthy enough for a dental implant, we will need to perform a minor surgery to place the implant into the jawbone. Don't worry—this surgery is performed right here in our office under local anesthesia and only takes about one hour to place the implant. Given that this procedure is quite simple, you can go home immediately after!

Once the implant is placed, we will need to wait several months before we can begin the next step in your treatment process. During these 3-6 months, the jawbone will grow around and integrate with the implant. Once the implant and jawbone are fused together, we can then begin the next step: placing the abutment.

The abutment is the part of the implant that links up the metal post with the dental crown. Once it has been placed and the gums have healed, we can then cement your dental crown over the abutment to complete your new tooth. If you are replacing several or all of your teeth, we will secure permanent dentures on top of the implants. These dentures should be removed every night before bedtime.

Interested? Give us a call!

If you are living in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and you are dealing with tooth loss, then it’s time to call our dental practice today to schedule a consultation. Find out if dental implants are the right for you by dialing (843) 842-5005 for the Hilton Head Island office, or (843) 208-2222 for the Hardeeville location.


Losing a tooth from disease or accident can be traumatic. The good news, though, is that it can be replaced with a life-like replica that restores your smile. One of the most popular and durable solutions is a dental implant, which replaces not only the root of the tooth but the crown as well.

But there's a possible wrinkle with implants — for accurate placement there must be a sufficient amount of bone around it. This could be a problem if you've been missing the tooth for sometime: without the stimulus provided by a tooth as you chew, older bone cells aren't replaced at an adequate rate. The bone volume gradually diminishes, as up to 25% of its normal width can be lost during the first year after tooth loss. A traumatic injury can damage underlying bone to an even greater extent.

There is a possible solution, but it will require the services of other specialists, particularly a periodontist trained in gum and bone structure. The first step is a complete examination of the mouth to gauge the true extent of any bone loss. While x-rays play a crucial role, a CT scan in particular provides a three-dimensional view of the jaw and more detail on any bone loss.

With a more accurate bone loss picture, we can then set about actually creating new bone through grafting procedures. One such technique is called a ridge augmentation: after opening the gum tissues, we place the bone graft within a barrier membrane to protect it. Over time the bone will grow replacing both the grafting material and membrane structure.

Once we have enough regenerated bone, we can then perform dental implant surgery. There are two options: a “one-stage” procedure in which a temporary crown is placed on the implant immediately after surgery; or a “two-stage” in which we place the gum tissue over the implant to protect it as it heals and bone grows and attaches to it. In cases of pre-surgical bone grafting, it's usually best to go with the two-stage procedure for maximum protection while the bone strengthens around it.

Necessary preparation of the bone for a future dental implant takes time. But the extra effort will pay off with a new smile you'll be proud to display.

If you would like more information on special situations with dental implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.