Dental implants represent one of the most dramatic advances in modern dentistry. Every year, tens of thousands of dental implant procedures give people a second chance for their teeth. Potential dental implant patients have many questions regarding exactly what this procedure is and what it can accomplish.
What Are Dental Implants?
A natural tooth consists of a crown (the part you see above the gum), and the root (the part hidden under the gum, within the jawbone). It is the root that actually holds the natural tooth in place.
When a person is missing a tooth, the dentist must decide how to re-create the crown portion, and he must choose the best method to hold it in place. Dental implants were created for this purpose.
Dental implants are metallic cylinders that are placed into the jawbone where original teeth once existed. These root-like cylinders are used to secure a replacement tooth in place in a spot where a tooth is missing.
Dental implants can also be used to secure loose teeth in place by being installed alongside the loose teeth and anchoring to them with splinted crowns. This will allow the loose teeth to function better and last longer in the mouth.
Dental implants are made of various biomaterials. Most commonly, a surgical metal called titanium is used, because it is the most compatible with human biology.
They are surgically placed in the jawbone, right in the dentist's office, using a local anesthetic. Approved and tested implant systems are very successful. In fact, some have lasted more than 30 years with a better than 90% success rate. Patients who have good oral hygiene and take care of their new teeth can enjoy implants that last a lifetime.
Reasons Why I May Need Dental Implants?
People lose one or more teeth for a wide variety of reasons, including infection, gum disease, accident or injury. When natural teeth are removed, many problems occur. The remaining teeth shift, rotate and become crooked. An improper bite will develop, making it very difficult to chew food properly. Spaces and gaps between teeth may cause embarrassment, problems with speech, and lack of self-esteem.
Dental implants, when properly placed, can restore missing teeth, thereby eliminating these potential problems. People who have teeth replaced with dental implants report better ability to chew food and eat properly, renewed confidence while speaking, and better self-esteem.
If you have been thinking about getting dental implants, you are probably wondering if you are a possible candidate for this procedure. You can take this simple test to see if this procedure might help you.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I missing one, two, or more teeth?
- Do I hide my smile because of unsightly spaces between my teeth or because I am missing teeth?
- Do I lack confidence when I smile, speak or eat?
- Am I having trouble eating, chewing, or speaking properly?
- Are my teeth loose, or am I getting or in need of treatment for advanced gum disease?
- Do I have dentures that slip or cause sore spots when I chew?
- Do my dentures need to be relined frequently because of bone resorption?
- Do I carry my complete or partial dentures in my pocket or leave them at home?
- Am I having any problems with existing crowns or bridges, either functionally or cosmetically?
- Are the teeth holding my bridge loosening or moving?
- Can I wait three to twelve months for the entire implant process to be completed?
- Will I be willing to commit to the high standard of home care that is necessary to properly maintain a dental implant?
- Will I follow up with regular dental checkups?
- Do I believe that my life could be improved if my teeth were improved?
If you answered 'yes' to one or more of these questions, you may be a candidate for the dental implant procedure.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
Dental implants replace the form and function of missing teeth. They support replacement teeth in virtually the same way that your natural tooth root supports your natural teeth.
Various replacement options are possible:
- Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, so that grinding down or altering adjacent teeth is no longer necessary
- Dental implants can be used as anchors to support a fixed bridge
- Dental implants can support replacement teeth for an entirely toothless jaw
Dental implants can provide stability for a complete denture, thereby eliminating unsightly moving and clicking associated with dentures
- Dental Implants are actually an amazing procedure, actually giving you a second chance for your teeth
Are there any age limitations for dental implants?
No. Any person at any age can have dental implants as long as there is enough quality bone available in which to place the implants and they meet certain health requirements.
What factors contribute to long-term success of Dental Implants?
Long-term success depends on multiple factors. First off, success will depend on the quality and quantity of bone. The better the bone and the more available, the greater the chance of long-term success.
Secondly, the experience and ability of the dental surgeon will be a factor. As with any surgical procedure, there is no substitute for the experience and individual talent of the dentist.
And finally, the quality of the restoration placed on top of the implant will play a big role in long-term success.
What causes degradation of implants
If the design of the implant crowns or overdentures are poorly constructed, and biting forces are not balanced, even the best-placed dental implant will have a compromised survival rate.
Patients who split their own teeth may do the same to crowns and screws placed over implants so care needs to be taken by the patients not to over stress all crown and bridge work for long term survival to avoid fractures of screws and porcelain.
A degree of responsibility must be taken by the patient to take care of their implants and not place any excessive stress or force on the implants which may cause their fatigue or destruction.