Dental implants represent the most recent and advanced method of replacing lost or missing teeth. Invented in 1952 by a Swedish surgeon named Per-Ingevar Branemark, dental implants today offer a highly effective, long-term solution for replacing missing teeth to reestablish a fully functional and attractive smile. Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth or all of the upper and/or lower teeth.
A dental implant is a small, biocompatible post that is surgically positioned by means of a minimally invasive procedure into the jawbone beneath the gums. Once healing takes place and the implant integrates with the bone, it behaves in much the same way as the root of a natural tooth to provide support for an aesthetically appealing dental crown or bridge. A period ranging from 3 to 6 months is required for the jawbone to fuse with the implant via a process known as osseointegration.
What are the benefits of replacing lost or missing teeth with dental implants?
Dental implants offer several advantages over traditional methods of tooth replacement including:
- Dental implants come the closest to replicating the look, feel, and function of natural teeth.
- With precise placement, good oral hygiene and routine care, dental implants can last for many years.
- Dental implants provide continued stimulation to the underlying bone to prevent the bone loss that occurs when teeth are missing to preserve natural facial contours.
- Since implants behave like natural teeth, there is no chance that they will slip or dislodge like removable dentures when speaking or eating.
- With dental implants, it is possible to speak with ease as well as eat and taste all types of food with virtually no restrictions.
- Dental implants do not decay and will not develop cavities.
- Unlike a fixed bridge, dental implants do not require any preparation or crowning of teeth adjacent to the edentulous area.
Who is a candidate for a dental implant procedure?
According to clinical studies, dental implants have a demonstrated long-term success rate of well over 95%. One key to the success and longevity of a dental implant is that sufficient bone is present to provide stable support for the implanted surgical post. If insufficient bone is present, a bone grafting procedure is often recommended prior to the placement of a dental implant. Additionally, candidates for dental implants should be free of periodontal disease and be aware that a continued, effective oral hygiene routine and care is necessary to maintain a strong and functional implant.
Treatment Planning for Dental Implants
Treatment planning a patient for the precise placement of a dental implant involves advanced scanning technology and software to map out the details of care from both a prosthetic and surgical prospective. In this way a case can be planned and meticulously executed from the beginning with the final restoration in mind. With advances in implant dentistry multiple approaches to care are now being offered. In certain cases an implant can be placed at the same time a dental extraction is performed. This procedure is known as, “immediate dental implant placement.” Additionally, it is also sometimes possible to place “same-day dental implants.” With this procedure a temporary crown or bridge can be attached to the implants at the same time they are placed. In all cases, complete healing and osseointegration is required before the placement of the final prosthesis.
Types of Dental Implants
Most dental implants are made of titanium but are also available “metal-free” zirconia. Both titanium and zirconia are biocompatible materials, which integrate well with the hard and soft tissues in the jaw. Depending upon the requirements of the case, a single dental implant can be restored with a crown to replace one missing tooth, or multiple implants can be used to support a fixed bridge. In cases where all of the upper and/or lower teeth are missing a full-arch, implanted supported bridge can be placed. Special implants can also be placed for added support and stability for removable overdentures or as anchorage devices in orthodontics called “TAD’s” or Transitional Anchorage Devices.