West Augusta Dental Associates
General & Cosmetic Dentistry
Dental implants have been a large part of Dr. Clepper’s career. Dr. Clepper started placing and restoring implants in the late 70’s. In 1982 he started lecturing about implants and by the mid 80’s Dr. Clepper was teaching several two day courses in Augusta every year. Dentists from all over the country attended Dr. Clepper’s courses in Augusta, and he did one and two day courses all over the country. In 1997 Dr. Clepper published a 740 page textbook on dental implants that is used in implant teaching programs in many dental schools throughout the country. A copy of the book is on display in a glass covered case in our reception room, but if you want to look at a copy, ask our front desk personnel to get you a copy to browse through while you are in our reception room.
To provide you with a better understanding of dental implants, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to dental implants are discussed.
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Dental implants are really like artificial tooth roots. Implants are made of titanium with a special surface that allows bone to attach to them if a specific protocol is used. A researcher in Sweden developed this protocol in Sweden during the 50’s and 60’s. Dr. Clepper has taught this protocol to many dentists. Implants are used for many different reasons. Most patients assume that the implant is an artificial tooth that is placed in the mouth. In the case of a single tooth that is missing, the implant is placed, either when a tooth is removed or later. The implant itself does not actually replace the tooth. A post-like device called an abutment is placed in the implant, either when the implant is placed or later. A crown is placed over the abutment. It is the crown that looks and feels like a tooth. There are cases when a tooth can be removed and an implant placed immediately, an abutment placed at the same appointment, and a temporary crown placed over the abutment at the same appointment. However, it is often safer to remove a tooth and allow any infection time to resolve and place the implant later. Also, very often the actual removal of the tooth will leave such a large defect in the bone that some type of bone graft should be placed and allowed to mature before an implant is placed. The protocol that is normally used with implants is to place the implants initially then put them into full function approximately 3 months later.
Implants are commonly used to replace a section of missing teeth. In this case the crowns are often connected to one another to provide additional stability.
One of the most common uses of dental implants is the use of implants to stabilize artificial teeth for a patient that has been wearing conventional dentures. Several of the chapters in Dr. Clepper’s book deal with each of these applications.
“single tooth implant pre-op”
This is an implant abutment which is attached to photo the implant which is in the bone under the gum. The abutment for this case is gold colored because it was custom cast from gold for this specific case. The implant is made from titanium and the bone actually attaches to the implant.
“single tooth implant post-op”
Dr. Clepper placed this implant and the crown and bridge technician in our laboratory made this porcelain-to-metal crown over the abutment. The abutment was also made in our lab.
“8 implants maxillary pre-op”
This is a photo of the conventional upper and lower dentures in this middle aged woman’s mouth. The patient wanted implants to replace her upper teeth and her lower teeth. She was referred from her dentist in North Carolina to place and restore the implants in the upper jaw. The dentist that referred her was going to place and restore the lower jaw with implants. Upper implants are considered more difficult to do than lower implants. This patient had been missing all her teeth for over 30 years.
“8 implants max FPD front view”
Dr. Clepper placed 8 implants to support a fixed bridge in the patient’s upper jaw. Implants were not placed in the front for technical reasons but the fixed bridge replaces the front teeth. This photo actually shows the posts or abutments in the implants.
“8 implants max FPD mirror view”
If implants had been placed in the front, the position of the bone would have dictated where implants would have been placed. In the early 80’s Dr. Clepper was one of the first dentists to recognize that by not placing implants in the front in a case like this, a better looking result would result because the front teeth could be placed in the position for the most natural esthetic result.
“8 implants max FPD in place”
Our laboratory technicians did this fixed bridge which crowns 8 implants with connecting crowns and replaces 6 front teeth. The fixed bridge is made as one piece and cemented in place. Laboratory cases like this are very complex to do, but our laboratory is very experienced doing these type cases.
“8 implants max face view post-op”
After we completed the upper implants and fixed teeth, the patient’s dentist in North Carolina restored the patient’s lower teeth with a case like the one that is displayed next. The patient feels more youthful when she smiles now, and she is more confident because she does not have to take an upper denture out at private times like when she goes to the hospital or to day surgery for minor surgery.
“Norris 4 on floor bar”
Most patients with no teeth function well with an upper denture, but they do not function well at all with a lower denture. Shown here is a metal bar supported by several implants in a patient’s lower jaw. The bar is not removable, but the artificial teeth that snap on the bar can be removed by the patient. The advantage of being able to remove the teeth is that the patient has better access to clean the bar and implant abutments with a special toothbrush.
“4 on floor inside”
This is an inside view of the artificial teeth that fit over the bar. The yellow clips “snap” onto the bar and the teeth stay in place very well during chewing but can be removed by the patient. Dr. Clepper has made many innovations in bar design over the years, and he is the first dentist to develop and publish a classification system for implant supported overdentures.
“4 on floor O.D. in mouth”
We call this restoration an “overdenture”, because it is similar to a denture, but it is “over” something, in this case an implant supported bar. Even though it looks artificial in the photograph, it looks very natural when lip retractors are not retracting the lips. Patients that have worn regular dentures are very pleased when they get restored with a restoration like this.
Some dentists refer patients to us to place the implants and the abutments; then the referring dentist makes the crowns over the implants. When Dr. Clepper started teaching his courses in the early 80’s, there were not many general dentists, oral surgeons, or periodontists doing implants. Dr. Clepper works with some oral surgeons and periodontists that place implants and Dr. Clepper restores the implants. Of course, in many of Dr. Clepper’s cases, he places the implants and restores them. However, if a dentist refers a patient to Dr. Clepper to place the implants, the referring dentist will restore the implants unless the dentist specifically asks Dr. Clepper to restore the implants.
The most important aspect of an implant case is the diagnosis and treatment plan. Since Dr. Clepper is a general dentist that does fixed bridges and removable partial dentures, he has experience in all ways to replace teeth. Implants are not always the best option to replace teeth. In fact, implants are not the option that we recommend to many patients.
Unfortunately, throughout the country there are dental practitioners, many are specialists, that over-promote implants. There is a saying to describe this, “if the only tool you have in your tool box is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.
Whether you get a consultation about replacing missing teeth with implants at West Augusta Dental Associates or somewhere else, make sure you completely understand the advantages and disadvantages of implants for YOUR SITUATION. Please call us at 706-738-8070 and we will set you up for an exam and consultation.