Dental Implants were not always such a mainstream fixture in dentistry. There was a time when dental implants were for all practical purposes experiments in seeing what worked and what did not. In the last 15 years we have really entered a new age with dental implants being almost routine in their nature now.
Most dentists cannot imagine a day without them anymore as a treatment for our patients. Dental Implants are an artificial tooth root that a dentist, periodontist, or oral surgeon inserts into your jawbone to hold a replacement tooth or teeth(bridge). Dental implants are the perfect option for people with good oral health maintenance who are missing one tooth or multiple teeth due to periodontal disease, via trauma, or some other reason. Dental Implants use the most modern materials that dentistry has to offer.
Years and years of research have gone into the dental implants in use today. Dental implants are much more tooth friendly than traditional bridgework. Dental implants do not rely on neighboring teeth for support nor do the neighboring teeth need to be prepared to be part of the bridgework. With optimal conditions and in the hands of a skilled dentist, dental implants can look as natural as your own teeth. Only you and your dentist would ever know you even have one.
This gives patients the utmost in self confidence giving them the ability to broadly smile as well as eat as they choose. People missing teeth are generally self conscious about their smile and appearance. Following successful placement and restoration, dental implant patients can expect them to last a lifetime if they maintain good oral hygiene.
Modern dental implants can play a few roles in tooth or teeth replacement. These include:
- Replacement of one or more teeth without affecting the neighboring teeth.
- Act as support for a bridge. This will eliminate the need for a removable partial denture.
- Provide support and stability for a denture. Attaching a denture over dental implants make the denture more secure and comfortable. This is also called an implant supported overdenture.
Dental Implants and their advantages over Traditional Dentistry
- -Cosmetics. When done properly dental implants will look and feel like your own teeth. Another plus is that since dental implants are placed directly in bone they prevent bone loss and gingival recession that happens over time in areas where teeth are missing. No one but you and your dentist will ever know you have a dental implant.
- -Dental Implants allow conservation of tooth structure. Dental implants allow the dentist to save your adjacent teeth from preparations. A traditional bridge requires the preparation of neighboring teeth. Utilizing dental implants is a long term benefit to the patients dental health by saving their natural tooth structure.
- -Self Confidence. The wonder of dental implants is that they allow patients to talk and eat full of self confidence. Dental implants offer security and freedom.
- -Highly Predictable. Dental implants have had a long track record of a very high success rate. Due to this they are an excellent option for tooth replacement.
Any treatment for dental implants begins with a thorough examination to develop a proper treatment plan.
Without a good game plan the treatment will be doomed to fail. As mentioned earlier, dental implants are ideal in the following situations:
- -Single tooth replacement. Dental implants are an ideal option for patients with the quantity and quality of bone necessary to hold an implant. The dental implant will allow you to maintain the natural tooth structure of adjacent teeth while replacing a lost tooth.
- -Multiple teeth replacement. Dental implants are also ideal in this situation. If you are missing several teeth, implant supported bridges can replace them. Dental implants will replace both your lost natural teeth and some of the roots.
- -Replacing all your teeth. If you are missing all of your teeth, an implant supported full bridge or full denture (also called an implant overdenture) can replace them. This renders traditional dentures to the curb as dental implants used in this fashion will be more stable allowing patients to eat and talk as if they have their own natural teeth. In some cases, patients will need help to allow for placement of dental implants.
- Luckily, modern dentistry has developed a few procedures to “help” patients along. These include:
- -Sinus Augmentation. Dental implants need a good quantity of bone along with good quality of that bone to succeed. The upper jaw is known to have poorer quantity and quality bone structure as opposed to the lower jaw. The maxillary sinus also plays a role in increasing difficulty in this area. Sinus augmentation can remedy these issues by raising the sinus floor and placing bone grafts in the area to aid in dental implant placement.
- –Ridge Modification. When the bone is not 100% adequate for dental implant placement, dentists are able to make it perfect by performing a dental bone graft. A bone graft is the placement of bone in the jaw to to build it up. This gives an excellent platform for dental implants. Ridge modification has been shown to improve both appearance and long term success of dental implants.
Expectations of Patient
Following placement of implants and restoration with crowns or dentures, patients can expect a life long restoration that will be stable and cosmetic. Just because these products are man made does not mean oral hygiene should be forgotten and neglected. Dental hygiene must be maintained at a high level if the patient wants to ensure these restorations last.
Follow up dental visits are required just as if you had your own natural teeth. If dental implants are well taken care of the patient should expect them to last a lifetime!