The first step for patients considering tooth replacement is usually an examination and consultation with a general dentist or Prosthodontist to determine whether or not they are candidates for dental implant treatment. This usually involves x-rays and may include taking impressions for models of the teeth. During the examination, the various options for replacement teeth are discussed and a preliminary treatment plan developed.
Following the initial consultation, the next step is a referral to a surgical specialist for a comprehensive surgical evaluation. This will typically be for the purpose of evaluating the quality and quantity of available bone to determine the number of implants necessary, as well as whether bone grafting may be needed to achieve the desired functional and esthetic result. Once the surgical evaluation has been completed, the final treatment plan will be developed with the general dentist or Prosthodontist.
3D Cone Beam Imaging
In cases where the teeth have been missing for an extended period of time or there is any question about the quantity or quality of available bone, the surgical specialist will often use a 3D image to determine whether there is sufficient bone for placement of dental implants. Surgical specialists use 3D cone beam images with computer-generated scans to facilitate the diagnosis and treatment planning process, as they provide a more detailed look at the existing teeth, bone, nerves, and tissue with both three-dimensional and cross-sectional views.
The final treatment and sequence of procedures is developed by the surgical specialist and restorative dentist together, based on the evaluation of the bone, the need for bone grafting, as well as the number of implants required to achieve the esthetic and functional objectives.