Using Dental Implants in Restorative Dentistry
When a single tooth is lost, other teeth surrounding it may begin to shift, resulting in an unsightly appearance. In the past, bridges were the preferred method of cosmetic restoration, but surrounding teeth had to be damaged in order to support the prosthesis. As an alternative, many patients seek dental implants as a means of improving cosmetic appearance following the loss of a tooth. A dental implant has the look, feel and function of a natural tooth, and it’s positioning within the bone where the prior tooth was once rooted prevents other teeth from shifting out of place. The result is a visually appealing smile the wearer can be proud of.
In some cases, all of a patient’s teeth need to be replaced due to decay or other oral health complications. The teeth are vital to communication and digestion, so replacement is no longer a matter of cosmetic preference – but necessity. Options for full mouth restoration are limited to dentures or dental implants. More and more patients are choosing implants over dentures, as they provide a permanent solution that requires less maintenance and also preserves more of the natural maxillofacial bones surrounding the teeth.
Replacing a tooth used to require either a removable appliance or a bridge. Those are still options, however implants have become much more popular options for a myriad of reasons. They are titanium alloy screws that are very compatible with human tissue. We place them in your jaw, then allow you to heal, which involves the body osteo-integrating with the implant. It essentially becomes one with you. This new metal root is then restored with a crown and connecting abutment. It’s important to realize there are two parts to the procedure; the implant, and the crown. Everything from start to finish is typically done in our office, and the procedure, while sounding scary, is quite painless. It also does take some time to complete one of these. After an extraction you need several months to heal before the implant is placed, then several more while it integrates before we can complete the crown.
Success of Dental Implants
There is now a 90 – 95% success rate generally for the placement of implants, which can be decreased by smoking or uncontrolled diabetes. Signs of failing implants are more than 1 mm of bone loss after the first year, lack of osseointegration, and peri-implantitis (destructive inflammation of the surrounding tissue and bone).
If you and your dentist determine an implant is not for you, there are other options out there, from the more temporary (flippers, retainers) to the more permanent (dentures, bridges). See our other sections to learn more about these treatments, and talk to your dentist about which is right for you!
Implant-Supported Bridges and Dentures
Dental implants can be used to support a bridge when several teeth are missing. The implant-supported bridge replaces the lost natural teeth and some of the tooth roots. Unlike traditional bridges, an implant-supported bridge does not need support from the teeth next to it.
If you are missing all of your teeth, an implant-supported denture can replace the missing teeth and some of the tooth roots. Because the dental implants integrate (or “fuse”) with the jawbone, an implant-supported denture tends to be comfortable and stable, allowing you to bite and chew naturally.
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