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 and function of the teeth and supporting structures.
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.
Reasons You May Want to Consider Dental Implants:
- To replace one or more teeth
- To provide support for a partial denture
- To increase the support and stability of full upper or lower denture
- To enhance chewing comfort
- To increase confidence while smiling, talking and eating
- To improve your overall psychological health
- To improve esthetic appearance
Advantages of Implant Dentistry
Dental implants are stronger and more durable than their restorative counterparts (bridges and dentures). Implants offer a permanent solution to tooth loss. Additionally, implants may be used in conjunction with other restorative procedures for maximum effectiveness. For example, a single implant can serve to support a crown replacing a single missing tooth. Implants can also be used to support a dental bridge for the replacement of multiple missing teeth, and can be used with dentures to increase stability and reduce gum tissue irritation.
Procedural advancements, including the development of narrower “mini” implants, mean that more people than ever before are finding themselves candidates for implants.
Implants vs. Dentures
Many people with missing teeth wear conventional upper and lower dentures or partial dentures and are unhappy. Lower dentures never fit or feel like natural teeth. They become loose fitting due to shrinking gum tissue, which then causes irritation to the mouth. Lower dentures also restrict your ability to eat or talk as you had with your natural teeth. Upper dentures are easier to wear because the suction in the palate (roof of the mouth) helps keep the denture in place. But having the palate covered can also reduce the taste of foods that you are eating. Sores and pain in chewing and talking are quite frequent as the gum tissue shrinks, and many people suffer from having to use dental adhesive with upper dentures as well.
The Dental Implant Procedure
Today’s dental implants are virtually indistinguishable from other teeth. This appearance is aided in part by the structural and functional connection between the dental implant and the living bone.
Osseointegration is the process by which direct anchorage of a dental implant root and the bone of the jaw occurs. Osseointegrated implants are the most commonly used and successful type of dental implant. An osseointegrated implant takes anywhere from three to six months to anchor and heal, at which point Dr. Gorman can complete the procedure with the placement of a crown. Once the implant has anchored with the jawbone, multiple artificial teeth may be attached and the process is complete.
Detailed procedural steps are as follows:
Preparing the Jaw for Implantation: A dental implant is commonly composed of a titanium material screw and a crown. A small-diameter hole (pilot hole) is drilled at edentulous (where there is no tooth) jaw sites in order to guide the titanium screw that holds a dental implant in place. To avoid damaging vital jaw and face structures like the inferior alveolar nerve in the mandible (lower jaw), a dentist must use great skill and expertise when boring the pilot hole and sizing the jaw bone.
Placement of the Implant: After the initial pilot hole has been drilled into the appropriate jaw site, it is slowly widened to allow for placement of the implant screw. Following this placement, a protective cover screw is placed on top to allow the implant site to heal and the dental implant to anchor (osseointegration). After several months, the protective cover is removed and a temporary crown is placed on top of the dental implant. The temporary crown serves as a template around which the gum grows and shapes itself in a natural way. The process is completed when the temporary crown is replaced with a permanent crown.
Success Rates of Dental Implants
Dental implants are among the most successful procedures in dentistry. There is no guarantee that an implant procedure will be successful, but studies have shown a five-year success rate of 95% for lower jaw implants and 90% for upper jaw implants. The success rate for upper jaw implants is slightly lower because the upper jaw (especially the posterior section) is less dense than the lower jaw, making successful implantation and osseointegration potentially more difficult to achieve. Lower posterior implantation has the highest success rate for all dental implants.
Another strategy for implant placement within narrow spaces is the incorporation of the mini-implant. Mini-implants may be used for small teeth. Get more information about alternatives to traditional implants by checking out our mini implant section.
Remember: To qualify for implants, you’ll need healthy oral tissues and jawbone ridges that are in good shape. If you’re suffering from tooth loss, talk with Dr. Gorman about whether implants are an option for you.