Ask the Expert: Dental Implants

Dr. Roseanna Noordhoek, an oral maxillofacial surgeon at the Center for Oral Surgery and Dental Implants, answers your questions about dental implants.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are small titanium screws that are placed in the jawbone to simulate the roots of a natural tooth. Dental implants have an internal screw system that allows your dentist to attach a single tooth, dental bridge, removable denture or even rebuild an entire upper or lower set of teeth.

Who is a candidate for dental implants?

Anyone who is missing one or more teeth that they would like to replace should sit down with us for a consultation. Dental implants do need to be placed after the jaw has stopped growing (around 18–21 years old), so younger patients that are missing teeth are usually given temporary solutions first. There are no upper age limits, and I have many patients in their 80’s and 90’s who did not want removable teeth and have had successful dental implants placed instead. We do know that some medical conditions, such as diabetes and medications for autoimmune disorders, can make it more difficult for implants to fuse to the jawbone, and patients that are heavy smokers will need to cut back prior to implant placement.

What is the process of getting a dental implant?

In our office, every case is individual. Whether your tooth is already missing or still needs to be removed will determine how long treatment will take. In some cases, your tooth can be removed and an implant placed at the same time, shortening treatment time. The most important thing for a dental implant is to have a good bony foundation. Many times, we will recommend a bone graft when your tooth is removed or at the time of implant placement. Bone grafting has come a long way in recent years and often we can use “bone in a bottle,” saving the patient from having to harvest a bone graft from another site on their body. Once all the implants have healed, you will see your general dentist to have the actual tooth or teeth placed on top.

What is the downtime after the procedure?

The procedure itself is straight forward and can be done in our office with a variety of anesthesia options. For a straight forward implant surgery, many patients can resume work and activities later in the day. You’ll need to take a short break from heavy exercising and sports, and you will need a soft diet for a few weeks afterward.

What are the benefits of an implant over other options to replace missing teeth?

In the past, many people had to choose a removable appliance and/or get a bridge, which would require cutting down the two teeth adjacent to the space of the missing tooth. An implant is fixed in place—meaning that you brush and floss it like normal and it does not have to be removed at night. This is a huge functional benefit and definitely the most natural way to restore a smile.

About Dr. Noordhoek

Dr. Roseanna Noordhoek grew up in Dewitt, MI and attended Grand Valley State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Health Science. In 2007, she graduated from The University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry with a Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree. She completed her Oral Surgery residency in 2011 at Virginia Commonwealth University. While finishing residency, Dr. Noordhoek established the department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, PA, where she was the lead surgeon. After Practicing in PA for five years Dr. Noordhoek wanted to return home with her family to Michigan and is so happy to be back in Grand Rapids.

Dr. Noordhoek practices full scope oral and maxillofacial surgery and is board certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. She is most passionate about bone grafting and placing dental implants to restore function, confidence and quality of life in her patients.

Dr. Noordhoek has been on multiple medical mission trips in Central America and enjoys giving back in her community. She also enjoys artistic pursuits such as knitting, jewelry and clothing construction.