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Why Dental Implants


Let’s look at two different patient’s problems and the ultimate solutions.

First Scenario


Picture yourself sitting at a restaurant and as they set a juicy t-bone in front of you, you feel the ton of glue in your lower denture start to give and the denture begin to float. Now think of the same dinner but this time your denture is secured by two or more implants, holding your denture securely with no worry or gummy feeling.

Second Scenario


Picture yourself sitting at the same restaurant and they set a juicy T-bone in front of you. As you begin to chew the first bite you feel something not quite right and realize that you have broken a tooth. The tooth is fractured and unrestorable but every other tooth in your mouth is healthy. Do you reduce other healthy teeth down in preparation for a bridge or replace the unrestorable tooth with a dental implant?


Dental implants offer extraordinary versatility to patients in replacing missing teeth. They can be used to replace an individual tooth, multiple missing teeth, an entire mouth of missing teeth. In addition they can be used to stabilize and retain a denture or partial.

Implants – Amazing Technology


Dental implants are advantageous for many reasons. They offer the only way in dentistry to add support back to the mouth. They replace the root of the missing tooth and thereby increase the support of the teeth. This is very different from a bridge or removable partial denture which barrow support for the adjacent teeth to replace the missing tooth.


Dental implants also help to save bone. When a tooth is extracted the body no longer needs the bone and gum tissue that held it in so the body reabsorbs those tissues and the patent looses bone at the site. By replacing the root of the tooth a dental implant is stimulating the surrounding bone and gum keeping it healthy.


Dental implants help conserve tooth structure. When a bridge is done the adjacent teeth have to be ground down to make room for a cap or crown to retain the bridge. Often the adjacent tooth would benefit from a crown because it has or needs a large restoration. When this is the case a bridge can have certain cost benefit to the patient. Other times the adjacent teeth are virgin teeth requiring no restorations. For these teeth cutting them down for a bridge represents a significant loss of sound tooth structure.


Dental implants tend to last longer. The generally accepted lifespan of a crown or bridge might be 20 years. Many studies have shown 7-10 years to be more accurate. Now I have crowns and bridges in my practice that are 40 years old and doing well but that is the exception and not the rule. Crowns and bridges fail for a number of reasons. By far the majority of crowns and bridges that fail due so because a cavity gets under the crown. Dental implants are made of commercially pure titanium and are not susceptible to cavities. They have been placing dental implants for over 40 years. Many of those implants are still in service today.


Dental implants are for almost every patient with missing teeth. That being said patients that smoke, have diabetes or other health issues that affect healing in the mouth will have a higher risk implant case. As stated earlier, implants are made of commercially pure titanium. They do not get cavities, however they are still susceptible to gum disease. Therefore, I always tell my patients that if they have lost teeth due to gum disease that the implants will be subject to the same problems. The implants have to be brushed and cleaned just like natural teeth.


Getting a dental implant is a fairly simple but lengthy procedure. The first step is to go to the dentist and have an initial exam. I always encourage patients to get a full mouth set of x-rays and a complete exam. It is always a good idea to look at the entire mouth before you get an implant. This way you can find out about any other problems that you might have.


Once a dental implant is decided on the next step is planning the surgery. An x-ray can often tell you all the relevant information pertaining to placing a dental implant but some times we have to have a scan done. A scan is really just a CT scan done of just that part of a patient’s jaw where the implant surgery is going to be done. Scans can be done locally and they only take five to ten minutes. Some surgeons even have the machines in their office and can do it right there.


We also need to plan how to temporize the tooth while the implant heals. The location of the tooth usually determines weather we make a temporary to replace the soon to be missing tooth. We usually use a removable prosthesis called a flipper to cosmetically replace a front tooth while the implant heals. We make the temporary ahead of time so that the day of surgery you can leave with a replacement tooth.


Some dental implants are easier to place than others. In fact we place some dental implants in our office using local anesthetic just like when we remove a tooth. Other dental implants are more difficult and we have to refer the patient out to a surgeon. There are many types of dental implants designed to do different things in different locations in the mouth. Dental implants come in different sizes and lengths to replace different teeth. Deciding which kind of implant and then what size helps us to determine who is best to place the implant. Some dental implants require bone grafts and sinus lifts both of which add to the complexity and cost.


In our office the day of the surgery is much like any extraction. We put the patient on an antibiotic and have them start rinsing with a prescription mouth wash that day. They eat normally, drive to the office and drive home. The surgery takes about 1 hour and usually requires a follow up in one week. The implant is allowed to heal for 8-10 weeks in most cases. The implant is then ready to uncover and restore with a crown or bridge.


The primary reason that I started placing dental implants was to help my denture patients. Many times I have had to make a lower denture for a patient that has been without teeth for 20 years. They have very little bone to hold the denture in place. For these patients I can place two lower implants that have snaps that snap into the denture and hold it in place. Often we can take their existing denture and retro fit it to the implants. These patients experience the greatest patient satisfaction of all.


Although the fact remains no one wants to lose one or all of their teeth, the introduction of the dental implant has helped reduce a number of problems that losing teeth have caused. They have become the most advantageous way of replacing teeth that feel natural and look the same. For more information, please call us 409 986-6018.


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