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What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are surgically placed prosthetics placed where there is a missing tooth or teeth. The post of a dental implant is the surgical steel component that acts like a tooth root and is placed in the gums by a dentist. Both components of dental implants are offered by Dr. Peter Kim and Dr. William Altig at Sierra Oaks Dental.

Once a post is placed and the gums heal from the surgery, a crown is placed on the post. The crown is the tooth part of the prosthetic, created in a state-of-the-art lab. At our practice, we source dental labs in Sacramento as well as across the country, and the lab is decided upon by the patient and dentist during the treatment planning process.

Why Opt for A Dental Implant?

Tooth loss can be caused by many different diseases or trauma and there are many options to consider when facing the issue of a missing tooth, but implants are highly regarded as the most lasting and effective treatment for replacement teeth. The alternatives to dental implants have the issue of bone loss over time, which can lead to sagging in the mouth area and other parts of the face.

Whether you are missing a single tooth, numerous teeth, or complete arches, dental implants are the best option for retaining proper bone health in the jaw and mouth.

Types of Implants

  • Single Tooth Implant – The most basic form of implants replace a single tooth.
  • Implant-Supported Bridge – An implant-supported bridge is used when there are two or more missing adjacent teeth. It bridges the gap between teeth, but this means the prosthodontic teeth in the bridge that are not implants will lack posts and not have the same support compared to a single dental implant.
  • Implant-Supported Denture – An implant supported denture is synonymous with a fixed denture. Unlike a removable denture, an implant supported denture is fixed into place with the dental implants spaced along the arch.

The Process of Receiving a Dental Implant

Spear patient education photo for dental implant placement to replace missing tooth or teeth

Missing Tooth

First you must have a missing tooth (or teeth) or pending tooth extraction. Then, the option of dental implants can be discussed with your dentist.

spear educational image to show implant post placement to replace missing tooth root

Placing the Dental Implant Post

When opting for a dental implant, a patient will first have a dental post surgically placed in the healthy gums, anchoring in the jawbone just like a natural tooth root would. Prior to a post being placed in the gums, a patient will typically have bone grafting placed in the surgical area to promote the health of the jawbone. The post helps to support this bone graft and keeps the entire restoration stable and functioning same as a normal, healthy tooth. The material used, surgical steel, is the same as what is used in prosthetic surgeries where metal abuts, or enters, human bone. The area where the post is seated must then heal before further treatment is continued.

Spear patient education photo to show implant restoration crown capping implant post and abutment to replace missing tooth

Placing the Prosthetic Tooth (Crown)

After the post is implanted and the area of the gums and bone have healed, our dentists will place the dental implant restoration. If you are restoring one tooth with a dental implant, then a crown will be placed on the post. If you are restoring an area of three or more teeth, then you may receive a bridge, partial denture or complete denture.

Each dental implant case is tailored to your needs and desires to help ensure you get the smile of your dreams.

Recap of Dental Implant Procedure:

1. Consult with our dentists to discuss needs and desires in terms of functionality and appearance for your new smile
2. A – Extraction of diseased, infected, fractured or broken tooth
B – Post placement in gap of missing tooth (or teeth)
3. Healing process of gum tissue in the area of the post (typically four to six months)
4. Placement of new prosthetic tooth (or teeth, referred to as crowns, bridges, partial or complete dentures)


Dental implants are considered to be a lifelong solution, and in terms of oral health, the longest lasting solutions are best. The alternatives that require total dental redesign periodically run a higher risk of failure, infection and disease.

The most common alternative, bridges, have an average lifespan of five to ten years. Bridges utilize remaining tooth structure from remaining teeth, but this jeopardizes the structural integrity and overall health of other teeth in the area, which can lead to more problems down the road.

Dental implant posts, made of surgical steel, are fused to the jawbone naturally through a process called osseointegration, making them very strong and better integrated into the body. The term osseointegration derives from the ancient Greek roots for “bone” and “to make one.” According to the National Center for Biotechnical Information (a part of the U.S. National Library of Medicine) in order to create osseointegration the following must be true:

– A minimal amount of remaining bone should be removed.
– The basic topography of the region should not be changed.
– Retention of the original or transitional denture should be maintained during the healing period.
Jayesh, Raghavendra S, and V Dhinakarsamy. “Osseointegration.” Journal of pharmacy & bioallied sciences vol. 7,Suppl 1 (2015): S226-9. doi:10.4103/0975-7406.155917

The same process of osseointegration occurs whenever a bone is repairing itself, so dental implants replicate the same process as when someone undergoes surgery to repair a bone fracture, break, or joint replacement, among others. This makes implants very durable and reliable, a restoration you can rely on for years to come.

If you would like to learn even more about dental implants in Sacramento, California, and whether you are eligible for this kind of restoration, please contact us today at (916) 481-2000! A member of our team will be happy to answer any other questions you have and make you an appointment for a consultation. We look forward to serving you!

educational image to show how natural teeth attach and function versus how dental implants attach and function
Jayesh, Raghavendra S, and V Dhinakarsamy. “Osseointegration.” Journal of pharmacy & bioallied sciences vol. 7,Suppl 1 (2015): S226-9. doi:10.4103/0975-7406.155917