Dental Implants



If you want to learn about getting dental implants in San Luis Obispo, you’ve come to the right place. For years, Dr. Craig Main, Dr. Ian Leopold, and Dr. Meredith Morgan have been helping people understand their options when it comes to missing teeth.

Top 5 Reasons to Consider Dental Implants for a Beautiful, Healthy Smile:
  • You won’t have to feel embarrassed about the way you look because of missing teeth.
  • Dental implants can make it much easier to chew and eat your food.
  • A tooth implant provides a permanent solution to tooth loss.
  • Dental implants help you avoid bone loss in your jaw and help you avoid losing more teeth.
  • You don’t have to go through special procedures to clean a tooth implant. You can simply treat it as you would one of your other teeth.
  • Of course, one of the biggest advantages to dental implants is that you will feel wonderful about the way you look!

When your mouth is missing a single tooth or multiple teeth, you are at higher risk for numerous dental issues.

These can include:
  • jawbone loss in the mouth
  • loss of other teeth
  • increased chance of other teeth shifting
  • trouble eating food and speaking clearly
  • a decrease in self-confidence



It is not uncommon for people to have one or more missing teeth. An estimated 178 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth, a statistic expected to rise over the next 20 years due to the growth of periodontal disease. In fact, 69 percent of all adults who are 35 to 44 years of age have at least one tooth “gap” due to trauma, decay, or periodontal disease. By the age of 74, about one quarter of people in the U.S. have no remaining teeth at all.

If you have missing teeth, you need to know that you’re not alone and that we can help. At SLO Smiles, our dentists have the training, technology, and talent to help you regain a winning smile and a healthier mouth. One of the most popular solutions today is permanent teeth implants. A visit to a dental implant expert could be the answer to your dreams of a fantastic smile!


Because dental implants are permanent, they act like natural teeth. This means that you will be able to treat them like the rest of the teeth in your mouth. Unlike dentures, they never need to be removed, and they rarely require anything other than brushing, flossing and regular teeth cleanings once they are professionally implanted.
Even from an appearance standpoint, dental implants look completely natural. The post that supports the tooth is placed under the gums in the mouth, and there are no signs that the tooth is a result of a surgical procedure.
We will be happy to provide more information about dental implants and other treatments to correct your missing teeth. Please contact SLO Smiles to schedule an appointment today.

Why Should I Replace a Missing Tooth?
  • When a tooth falls out, the surrounding bone will shrink.
  • Remaining teeth are then supported by a weakened jaw.
  • The remaining teeth must do extra work and may start to shift.
  • Shifting teeth may affect your bite and jaw joint
  • Bridges and partials can also increase your risk for tooth loss.
San Luis Obispo, all-on-4-beforeSan Luis Obispo, all-on-4-after

If you are missing multiple teeth and cannot consider an individual dental implant procedure because of bone loss or lowered bone density, the All-on-4™ procedure may be the ideal treatment for your needs. The All-on-4™ technique is specifically designed to use a minimum of four implants. All-on-4™ implants do not typically require bone grafting, so they are an ideal solution for patients with areas of low bone volume.

This solution maximizes the bone that is available so your SLO Smiles dentist can create implant dentures that look great and work the very first day. With All-on-4™, you will be on a path to feeling like yourself again, despite your natural tooth loss.

When surveyed four years after their surgery, more than 98 percent of people who have undergone the All-on-4™ procedure feel their surgery has been a success! If our dentists feel you are a good candidate for All-on-4™, you will discover numerous advantages to undergoing this procedure.

Some of these advantages include:
  • Get all the benefits of dental implant surgery without needing a bone graft
  • Having fully functional implanted dentures from the first day
  • Faster recovery time than most traditional dental implant surgeries
  • Permanent and secure without the slippage that occurs with traditional dentures
  • Enjoy eating whatever you want again
  • Regain your normal speaking ability
  • No more removable appliances
  • Much easier to clean

Novadontics is an innovative procedure for replacing an entire arch of missing teeth with just four dental implants.

San Luis Obispo, Dr. Ian Leopold

Dr. Ian Leopold completed the fellowship program with the California Implant Institute with substantial education and experience in advanced implant surgical techniques. Dr. Leopold is also proud to be the sole Novadontics Smile provider in all of San Luis Obispo, Monterey, and Santa Barbara counties.

Unlike traditional implant bridges produced in a lab, Novadontics uses in-office computer assisted design and manufacturing technology. That means Dr. Leopold is able to create your temporary and permanent prosthetics right here at SLO Smiles.

  • Once the implants are placed, a fixed prosthetic that looks and feels like a full set of natural teeth is then attached to the implants.
  • The teeth can be delivered in time for the surgery. This means that once the implants are placed, you can leave with permanent teeth the same day.
  • Novadontics smiles are made with the highest-quality Nobel Biocare implants and all prostheses are manufactured used the latest in computer-aided design/computer-assisted manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology and high-tech dental materials for a smile designed to last a lifetime.

The first step to determine if you might be a candidate for the treatment is a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Leopold. During your visit, Dr. Leopold will take a 3D CT scan of your mouth to determine the condition of your jaw, gums, and teeth.

Some patients may be able to go straight into implant placement, while others may require pretreatment such as bone grafting or gum disease therapy to create a healthy foundation for the implants.


If you have one or more missing teeth, you may be considering alternatives to having a “gap” in your smile. Two of those alternatives are dental implants and dentures. Dr. Ian Leopold, Dr. Craig Main, and Dr. Meredith Morgan want you to understand the difference.

Many patients who initially opted for removable dentures have switched to dental implants with positive results. Implants feel and respond like natural teeth, allowing for more natural chewing and eliminating those embarrassing moments when dentures may have slipped or clicked.


Why Our Patients in San Luis Obispo Are Choosing Dental Implants Over Dentures
  • Dental implants are permanent, while dentures are not. You have to take out your dentures every day.
  • Dental implants are secured in place and require no special cleaning beyond regular care.
  • Dental implants protect the jaw bone, which is something dentures cannot do. Without teeth in place to stimulate the bone structure, the jaw can suffer from deterioration and cause further tooth loss.
  • This bone deterioration can make wearing a denture more uncomfortable and unstable over time.
  • There is less chance of embarrassment from dental implants because dentures can fall out of the mouth during talking or eating. Dental implants do not fall out.
  • Dentures can be misplaced, become lost, or break. Dental implants remain securely in place within a patient’s mouth so you don’t have to worry about losing them or breaking them.

Even if you already have dentures, you may still be a good candidate for dental implant treatments to make your life easier and improve the health of your mouth, as well as your overall confidence in your smile! Patients interested in discussing the wide range of differences between dentures and dental implants in San Luis Obispo should schedule a consultation with Dr. Ian Leopold, our SLO Smiles dental implant expert.


Dental Implants vs. Bridges and Partial Dentures
There are several disadvantages to fixed or partial dentures when compared to permanent tooth implants:
  • As with full dentures, removable and fixed partials or bridges can cause jawbone atrophy and increased risk of additional tooth loss.
  • Partials can sometimes become loose and uncomfortable.
  • For some people, bridges and partial dentures can make it difficult to eat and to speak clearly.
  • Partials and bridges can lead to increased tooth sensitivity.
Factors That Affect the Cost of Dental Implants
At SLO Smiles we are here to help you understand what to expect in terms of dental implant costs. There are several factors that can affect the cost of getting dental implants. Cost factors include the following:
  • How many teeth are involved
  • If there Is bone loss
  • The type of procedure you’re having
  • If there is a sinus lift required
  • If there is periodontal disease present
  • If you need extractions
  • If you are missing teeth

At SLO Smiles we offer financing options to ensure you get the care you need.

How Dental Implants Can Save You Money Over Time

Missing teeth can lead to serious problems of the mouth, including the loss of other teeth, bone deterioration, shifting teeth, and other issues. By investing in dental implants, you can improve the overall health of your mouth, save money over the long run, and get a big boost of confidence by showcasing your beautiful new smile.

How to Improve Your Lifestyle with Permanent Dentures

Regular dentures rest on top of your gums, which can lead to bone deterioration of the jaw. This bone deterioration can cause complications such as loose fit, slipping, or clicking sounds.

Implant supported dentures are anchored to permanent dental implants in the mouth. This type of denture is most often used in the lower jaw where removable dentures are less stable, but they can be used in the upper jaw as well.

Implant supported dentures are snapped into place on top of dental implants. This provides a secure fit and hold, eliminating looseness or slipping without the need for paste or adhesives.

Implant supported dentures are designed so that they can be removed for regular cleaning, or you can opt for fixed implant supported dentures, which function as permanent teeth.

Benefits of Implant Supported Dentures Include:
  • Increased stability
  • Ability to eat and speak with confidence
  • No more discomfort
  • Secure fit
  • No embarrassing clicking sounds
Bar-Retained Dentures
When fitting bar-retained dentures, three or more dental implants are placed into the jaw bone. Metal bars then run along the gum line between each of the implants. The denture rests on the bars, and is held in place with metal clips. This structure secures the denture’s placement without the need for the steel studs used in ball-retained dentures. Many patients have opted for this alternative because it eliminates the rubbing, loosening, and discomfort associated with traditional removable dentures.
Ball-Retained Dentures
Ball-retained dentures, also called stud-attached dentures, function with a ball and socket mechanism. The denture base has several sockets that line up with balls placed on dental implants in the jaw bone. The balls and sockets fit together for an extremely secure fit, allowing for an open palate denture. The ball and socket attachment is less likely to slip or move, restoring the patient’s ability to eat and speak regularly.

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us today. We look forward to providing you with the personal care you deserve.

What You Need to Know About Bone Grafting

It is common to experience bone loss around the teeth as a result of progressive disease, infection or trauma. However, bone loss can limit our ability to restore your smile using methods like dental implants or implant supported dentures. At SLO Smiles, we offer bone augmentation and bone grafting procedures to replace lost bone. Bone grafting can also restore the proper facial contours where bone is missing in the font of the mouth.

Why Bone Loss Often Occurs After Tooth Loss

Without the tooth in place to stimulate the jawbone, the bone around the missing tooth will begin to deteriorate. In some cases, bone grafting may be necessary before a patient can undergo a tooth replacement procedure such as dental implants.

Three types of bone grafts employed by our dentists:
  • Autogenous Bone Grafts

    This is where bone is taken from one part of the patient’s body (such as the chin region) and transplanted to the mouth.

  • Allograft Bone Grafts

    During allograft bone grafting, human bone from cadavers is used instead of the patient’s own bone.

  • Xenograft Bone Grafts

    For this type of bone graft, nonhuman bone such as bovine is utilized to eliminate the need to two surgery sites. For those people, an allograft or xenograft procedure may be a better choice.

Is a Bone Graft Right for Your Needs?

Only a thorough examination with Dr. Ian Leopold, Dr. Craig Main, or Dr. Meredith Morgan can determine if you are an ideal candidate for a bone graft for aesthetic reasons or prior to the placement of dental implants. Please call us to schedule your appointment.

Guided Tissue Regeneration

Periodontal or gum disease causes bone loss around teeth, which can increase the chances for tooth loss. Once a tooth has been lost, the supporting jaw bone has a tendency to disappear over time. This may make wearing dentures uncomfortable, and insufficient bone can render placing dental implants impossible. However, your SLO Smiles dentist can now provide simple techniques to regrow lost bone, provide support for dental implants, or to improve the esthetics beneath a fixed bridge.

Guided tissue bone regeneration does not always require the removal of bone from any other part of the body. Our SLO Smiles dentists can use membrane barriers, tissue stimulating proteins, or bioactive growth factor gels. The goal of each of these treatment options is to stimulate the body to grow new bone or to hold the space for the bone to regenerate into.

The Benefits of GTR
  • GTR helps the body to regenerate lost bone
  • Increases the likelihood you will keep your natural teeth
  • Decreases the odds of serious health problems associated with gum disease
  • Saves failing dental implants or bridges
  • Improves aesthetics

If you have lost bone due to missing teeth or gum disease, your SLO Smiles Dentist can help. Call us today for a consultation.

You May Need a Sinus Lift Prior to Getting Dental Implants

Patients who have lost teeth in the upper premolar or molar areas of the jaw often require a sinus lift, or sinus augmentation before they can get dental implants. As a result of bone loss, the sinuses can expand to occupy the empty space where the bone used to be. With insufficient bone to securely place a dental implant, a sinus lift is necessary to move the sinus away from the roots of the teeth or to create additional bone in the area.

What to Expect During Sinus Lift Surgery

During a sinus lift, the patient is given a local anesthetic. We will then begin one of two methods to either surgically “lift” the sinus so that it is in a better place and enables the opportunity for a space to add a bone graft, or to graft bone directly to the sinus floor (in which case the sinus is not “lifted”, per se, but does lift as the bone grows). Over time, the bone that is grafted will begin to fill in the space and eventually be able to support a dental implant.

Patients who undergo sinus lifts are required to wait up to nine months for dental implant placement. This delay gives their bodies time to heal from the surgery, as well as for the bone to fill in. Some people who have a sinus lift may be able to receive dental implants as soon as four months after the surgery. However, this varies on a case by case basis.

If you would like more information about dental implants, bone grafts, or a sinus lift, call today to schedule your appointment with one of our dentists.

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