For individuals who wish to replace missing teeth, dental implants may be an effective long-term solution. Implants provide greater structural support and have shown great durability. Implants serve as the artificial root to which new teeth are bonded. They are typically constructed of titanium, a strong and safe material that effectively attaches to bone. The procedure to insert dental implants typically involves three steps: the implant insertion stage, osseointegration (the period of healing for the jawbone), and the attachment of restoration or new tooth.

Types of Implants :

The most popular form of implant is the Root Implant. This type of implant is very effective and mirrors the size and shape of a patient’s natural tooth. Many times, this implant will be as strong structurally as the original tooth’s root. Once the dentist applies the local anesthesia, he or she makes an incision in the gum in order to gain access to the jawbone. The bone is then prepared and the implant inserted into the jawbone with care and precision. Finally, the dentist stitches the gum and prescribes the appropriate medication. During the osseointegration step which lasts anywhere from three to eight months, the jawbone firmly attaches itself to the implant. Once the osseointegration is completed, the patient returns to the dental office where the implant is fitted with the new tooth.

Another form of implant is the Plate Form Implant. This implant is ideal in situations where the jawbone is not wide enough to properly support a Root Implant. The Plate form implant is long and thin, unlike the Root Implant, and anchors into thin jawbones. Once the dentist applies the local anesthesia, he or she makes an incision in the gumline in order to gain access to the jawbone. The bone is then prepared and the implant is inserted into the jawbone with care and precision. The dentist then sutures the gums and prescribes the appropriate medication. In certain cases, Plate Implants are immediately fitted with the restoration without waiting for the osseointegration period.

The last type of implant is the Subperiosteal Implant. These implants are utilized when the jawbone has receded to the point where it no longer supports a permanent implant. These implants are placed on top of the bone and imbedded in the gums, but not in the jawbone as with other types of implants. The dentist applies a local anesthesia and makes a mold of the mouth and jawbone. From this impression, a dental lab constructs implants to custom fit the patient’s jaw. On the second visit to the dentist, the dentist exposes the jawbone and inserts the implant on top of it. Over the next month the gums grow up and around the implant. This same type of implant can sometimes be performed in a single procedure with the use of an initial CAT scan of the gumline and jawbone.

Although you have a number of restorative options for the treatment of missing teeth, none have proven to be as functionally effective and durable as implants. In many cases, dental implants may be the only logical choice for the restoration of all necessary functionality of the teeth and supporting structures.

Strong, durable and natural in appearance, implants are among the most successful dental procedures performed.

Tooth Loss

Teeth are lost because of:

  • Tooth decay
  • Root canal failure
  • Periodontitis
  • Trauma to the mouth
  • Excessive wear and tear

People who have lost teeth might feel too self-conscious to smile or talk. Additionally, biting irregularities caused by tooth loss can have a negative effect on eating habits and this can lead to secondary health problems like malnutrition. Regardless of the nature of problems related to tooth loss, dental implants may provide a simple remedy with proven results.

Dental Implants vs. Conventional Dentures

Many patients who have selected dental implants describe a quality of life that is much more comfortable and secure than the lifestyle endured by those with fixed bridges or removable dentures. Dentures often make a person feel and look older than they are, cause embarrassment in social situations when they slip and click, and restrict the everyday pleasure of eating comfortably.

When they count the benefits they enjoy as a result of their dental implants, patients say their implants eliminate the day-to-day frustrations and discomfort of ill-fitting dentures. They allow people to enjoy a healthy and varied diet without the restrictions many denture wearers face. With a sense of renewed self-confidence, many people rediscover the excitement of an active lifestyle shared with family and friends and the chance to speak clearly and comfortably with co-workers. For all these reasons, people with dental implants often say they feel better… they look better… they live better.

What are the advantages of dental implants over dentures and bridges?

  • Reduced bone loss

Normally, the bone tissue surrounding the root of your tooth is maintained by your body’s natural renewal process. However, if you loose a tooth, you will be left with a hole where your tooth root used to be and the bone around this area will slowly begin to disappear (atrophy) and may change the shape of your jaw. A dental implant placed in that area can actually stimulate bone growth and production, preventing loss of valuable bone structure. In some patients where bone loss is substantial a bone graft may be required before placing a dental implant. Bone loss is a problem for people who have dentures and as the shape of the jaw slowly changes the dentures need to be adjusted or re-made to fit the new shape of the jaw. Bone loss can also make a person look older since the area around the mouth can sag as bone is lost.

  • Improved function

Once dental implants are fully integrated into you jaw they function just as well as your own natural teeth and you can eat the foods you want and speak with complete confidence. With dentures, eating hard foods such as an apple can be a problem, either the dentures come loose or patients cannot withstand the hard biting forces as they cause pain in the gums. Irritation and inflammation of the gums is a common problem amongst denture patients. Dentures can be supported by implants or mini-implants which will improve function greatly enabling patients to eat the foods they want with complete confidence and not having to worry about bone loss and loose dentures falling out.

  • Improved dental hygiene

Unlike bridges and dentures, which require special cleaning instructions and extra attention, dental implants just need regular brushing, flossing and hygiene appointments just like your natural teeth.

  • No need to drill or remove any healthy tooth structure

When replacing missing teeth with dental bridges, the teeth adjacent to the gap need to be prepared and healthy tooth structure is removed to accommodate a crown or bridge abutment to fit over the top of the tooth. In the future if one of the supporting teeth is damaged the entire bridge restoration will also be compromised whereas with an implant the restoration is independent of any of your other teeth. By replacing lost teeth with an implant, no support is required of the adjacent teeth, and hence your natural teeth do not need to be prepared or altered in any way.

  • Better aesthetics

If done correctly a dental implant should be indistinguishable from your surrounding natural teeth. Dentures can come loose and look un-natural if they do not blend with your gums and some bridges and dentures have unsightly metal clasps to hold them in place. Dental implants provide a much better cosmetic and functional end result.

How many teeth can a dental implant support?

Traditionally an implant placed into your bone supports a single crown and this is know as a “single tooth implant”. However if you have several missing teeth you do not necessarily need an implant for every missing tooth, one implant can support several teeth via a bridge or a denture. The number of implants required depends on the volume and density of bone tissue available at each implant site. Often smaller sized “mini implants” are used to secure dentures in place.

In the case of full mouth reconstructions where an arch of several teeth (10+) need to be supported in either the upper or lower jaw a minimum of 5-6 implants in each jaw would be required. The exact number of implants needed would depend on the individual case and your implant surgeon would be able to advise you on the best solution after a through examination and assessment.

Sources: Your Dentist Guide

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