Explaining dental implants
Dental implants are tooth root replacements, made out of surgical-grade titanium alloy. Medically, they are quite similar to artificial hip or knee joints. They require two to six months of healing after they are placed. In some circumstances temporary teeth can be placed the same day as surgical placement, but generally not. After healing, a connecting piece, called an implant abutment is placed, and impressions are made to begin fabricating the new crown, bridge, or implant prosthesis.
Today implants are THE most conservative way to replace a missing tooth, as other alternatives require the reduction (cutting) of other teeth, or the acceptance of old-fashioned partial dentures or complete dentures. Conventional fixed bridges require connecting teeth together, making flossing and other hygiene efforts more difficult. A single tooth implant flosses like any other tooth.
Dentures are really tools, and not teeth. Masticatory function and comfort are greatly diminished with removable dentures. These alternatives, while still valid, are chosen less and less by health, cosmetic, and comfort conscious individuals.
DENTAL IMPLANT HEALING
After placement, your own bone grows against and fuses with the implant body. This process is called osseointegration. A successful implant almost always lasts a lifetime. The overall success rate is 93-95%. Success rates are lower in heavy smokers, diabetics, users of bisphosphonate medications, and patients with severe clenching and grinding issues. Some medical conditions preclude the placement of dental implants. Dental implants can suffer from gum disease, and need to be maintained like natural teeth, both at home and in the dental office.
Once integrated, the implant is used to replace missing teeth by precisely made crowns or bridges. Alternatively, they can be used to support a hybrid prosthesis, which looks similar to a denture but is firmly attached to the implant assembly in a way that it can be removed and cleaned daily, and then rigidly returned to the mouth. The entire process to finish can be as short as ten weeks, or up to 18 months, depending on many circumstances.
ITS ALL ABOUT THE BONE
An absolute requirement to place dental implants is to have sufficient bone, in all three dimensions, to firmly hold the implant while healing. Many people lose bone volume after tooth extraction. Long term denture users often have great deficits in the bone of the jaw. Bone grafting and management is an integral part of our implant planning in the Dental Leaders practice. We are firm believers in socket grafting, which is a technique used to fill in sockets with freeze-dried bone at the time of tooth loss. We have tremendous success with this technique. We can also graft small areas at the time of implant placement to augment small deficiencies. We also routinely use two techniques in the upper jaw, where the maxillary sinus is often too big, occupying space where we need bone. When large and complex grafts are needed, we utilize the services of trusted specialists in our community and work as a team.
MOTIVATION FROM THE ORIGINATOR OF MODERN DENTAL IMPLANTOLOGY
Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark, discoverer of osseointegration and renowned pioneer of dental implantology: "Edentulism [missing teeth] is a handicap which in many cases leads to invalidity. The loss of teeth is followed by a successive reduction in jawbone, which results in a constant deterioration in the stability of loose dentures. In addition to this tissue defect, many patients are afflicted by a severe loss of self-confidence. So, in addition to a reduction in chewing and speech function, the loss of teeth also has important effects on the patient's overall psychosocial situation. Jawbone-anchored dental replacements based on the osseointegration [fusion and ingrowth of bone] principle, with more than 400,000 patients having been treated during a period of 30 years, result in local and total rehabilitation, where the long-term results have proven to be predictable and cost-effective. This has been achieved by using clinically documented components and methods on these patients, based on a meticulous analysis of the treatment indication. In view of the large number of totally and partially edentulous patients, it is important for the prospective patient's dentist to have a correct knowledge of the different treatment alternatives for edentulism. In the short term, general dental practitioners should be trained to enable them to give their patients satisfactory advice and information about suitable forms of treatment. In the longer term, tissue-anchored dental replacements should be included in dental training. Osseointegration as a method of oral rehabilitation is a fine example of the way interaction between research, health care and industry can lead to favorable effects for patient and society alike."
Doctor Branemark's vision is thriving in the practice of Doctors Groh, Souviron, and Correa.