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Do you have missing teeth ? Years ago, most patients would only have denture or bridge to consider when replacing missing teeth. Today, with advances in technology, dental implants are common procedures.
What are dental implants?
They are like artificial ‘ root’ in the jawbone. Implants, usually made of titanium, are anchored strongly in the bone, just like the root of a tooth. Hence dental implants replace both the root and the crown of a tooth. This is something that bridge or denture cannot do.. The part that is inside the bone is called the fixture ( “screw”). The part that is above the bone or gum level is called the crown.
Beside being used to replace one or more missing teeth, dental implants can support non removable permanent bridges for multiple teeth, or to better support a full or partial denture. Implants, when properly planned and placed in the jaw, show excellent long term success.
Why do dental implants?
With loss of bone, there are less support for the cheek, lips and other soft tissues. That is the reason why people who have lost some teeth tend to look older, despite their age. By helping to maintain bone, dental implants can help prevent additional tooth loss and a sunken facial appearance. Hence, dental implants can change the way you look.
Very often, patients who have lost several or all their teeth have problem eating and this may lead to nutritional and digestion problems. Dental implants increase chewing efficiency and can improve their quality of life.
How are implants done?
To be a candidate for implants, you must be healthy and have healthy gums and enough bone to support the implants. Implants can be placed with the patient awake. However, general anesthesia or sedation can be used upon request.
Implant surgery is most often done in at least two stages. During the first surgery, the jawbone itself is exposed and holes are carefully drilled in the bone. The gums are then sutured up, entirely covering the implants, and the patient is sent home to heal. The second surgery takes place after three to six months. The dentist uncovers and exposes the implants, and again send the patient home. When the implants are successfully ‘married’ to the jawbone ( a process called osseointegration), the dentist places the type of restoration originally planned. Most patients have minimal discomfort.
-Dental implants allow the permanent replacement of teeth without the conventional way of drilling and preparing the surrounding teeth for crowns and bridges.
-If there are a few or no natural teeth remaining, implants allow patients to hold full and partial dentures securely while still being able to remove the denture for cleaning. And they are the only answer for people who have lost all their teeth and cannot wear a denture, or for people who have lost so many teeth that a conventional fixed bridge cannot be made.
-Most similar to natural teeth
- Reduce the rate of shrinkage of the jawbone caused by tooth loss
-They are time consuming, often taking several months to complete and require more dental visits than alternative procedures.
-Treatment fees for dental implant is higher than other options. But most patients agree that they are worth it as conventional bridges or dentures often need replacement several years later.
-Not everyone can have implants. Many people, especially those who have lost their teeth for very long time, do not have sufficient bone or the quality of bone necessary for implants. A CT scan is needed to evaluate the amount and quality of the jawbone. If you do not have enough quality bone, the dentist may be able to build up the bone with bone taken from other areas or with techniques to move sensitive nerves or sinus cavities. These procedures are not without potential complications. But they can make possible an otherwise impossible case.
So if you are considering dental implants, time is of the essence.