Posts for category: Dental Procedures
While the first recorded attempts at dental implant were recorded around 600 AD during the Mayan civilization, today they have become a normal and integral tool that we use to replace teeth and restore full functionality to dental and oral health. In fact, many dentists now refer to dental implants as a person's third set of teeth, and they are the optimal choice for permanently replacing missing adult (permanent) teeth.
To help you visualize, think of your teeth as having two main parts: the crown or the part that can be seen above the gum tissues and the root, the portion that is suspended in the bone by the periodontal (gum) ligament that keeps the tooth in place. A dental implant is actually a root replacement, but unlike a tooth's root, it is anchored in the jawbone. However, an interesting fact is that the dental implants being used today actually fuse with or integrate in to the bone to become one. This process is called “osseo-integration.”
For the most part, dental implants are made from commercial-grade, pure titanium. This metal is “osteo-philic” or literally a bone loving metal that has been used for many years by both the medical and dental professions because it is not rejected by the body. For these reasons, these dental implants are very successful and can last for a lifetime.
Implant placement is a surgical process that requires prior planning involving collaborative efforts between the implant surgeon, dentist, and a laboratory technician. Periodontists, oral surgeons, or general dentists with advanced training in implantology and surgery normally “place” them. To learn more about dental implants and the entire process, read, “Dental Implants, Your Third Set Of Teeth.” Or if you prefer, you can contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.
Modern dental implants not only help you maintain your normal chewing ability and speech patterns after you have lost a tooth or teeth — they also keep you looking younger. How do they do this? Read on.
Do lost teeth cause tooth-supporting bone to “melt” away? Yes. Of course, the bone does not actually melt. Bone is a living tissue, and under normal conditions it constantly dissolves and rebuilds. Stimulation by the small stresses from the contact of upper and lower teeth — something that normally happens hundreds of times each day — keeps these two forces in balance. When a tooth is missing, the bone that normally surrounds and supports the tooth (called alveolar bone) no longer receives the stimulation that causes it to rebuild, and it begins to diminish over time.
What happens if you don't replace missing teeth? The first year after a tooth is lost, the width of the bone that once surrounded the tooth decreases by 25 percent. Over the years, gradually increasing bone loss results in sunken cheeks and lips, making you look older. Gum tissue also decreases, affecting your ability to chew and speak.
What happens if you lose all your teeth? For people who have lost all their teeth, called edentulous, the effects are severe. After the alveolar bone is lost, the bone beneath it, called basal bone, also begins to be resorbed, eventually causing the lower part of the face to partially collapse.
Do partial or full dentures prevent bone loss? Unfortunately, just the contrary is true. A removable denture pressing on a person's gum increases bone loss because the pressures from biting are not transferred into the internal structure of the bone but instead are compressive, which damages the bone over time. This is why dentures begin to fit poorly after they have been worn for a while. This problem can be reduced by anchoring dentures with strategically placed dental implants.
What is a dental implant? A dental implant is a tooth-root replacement that is made of titanium. This metal is able to osseointegrate, or fuse with the bone. For a single tooth replacement, a crown that looks and functions like natural tooth is attached to the titanium implant. As mentioned above, implants can also be used to anchor dentures.
Does an implant prevent bone loss? Yes. When dental implants fuse to the jaw bone, they stabilize the bone. They also provide tooth-to-tooth stimulation that was formerly supplied by the natural tooth.
How long do dental implants last? Dental implants have been shown to last at least 10 years. For most people, implants will last the rest of their lives.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth loss and dental implants. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
Designing a better smile sometimes requires a change in the size, shape, or color of your teeth. Porcelain laminate veneers (thin layers of dental ceramic material) enhance your appearance by replacing the natural enamel on the outside of your teeth. A veneer is physically bonded to the surface of a tooth, in essence, becoming part of it.
Traditionally, a small amount of the natural tooth enamel is drilled away to allow room for the veneer. But today, in some circumstances, it is possible to use an approach where enamel reduction or preparation is not necessary because the veneers can be bonded directly onto the tooth's natural surface. These are called “Prepless” or “No-prep” veneers, and are used to create aesthetically pleasing and natural looking restorations. An advantage of the prepless procedure is that the process is reversible so that you can give your new smile a “test drive.”
You may be a good subject for Prepless veneers if:
- Your smile is narrow because the teeth in the sides of your smile are positioned inward and do not show from a frontal view.
- There is spacing between your teeth, and the teeth appear too small.
- You have a fairly common genetic condition in which one or both of the teeth directly next to the two upper front teeth are very small and peg-shaped.
- There is an imbalance between the size of your lips and teeth (large lips and small teeth), which are not in proportion to show off your best smile.
Prepless veneers are probably not for you if:
- Your teeth are not aligned properly in your bite.
- Your teeth are very crowded, resulting in poor facial profile.
- Your teeth are already relatively large or positioned forward.
In these cases you may need to have some form of orthodontic treatment to move your teeth into better position. Sometimes veneers can be used to create an illusion of proper tooth alignment, but some amount of tooth reduction may be required.
We can assess whether prepless veneers are right for you. There is no substitute for an expert dentist's talent and expertise with the various cosmetic techniques available today. These skills combined with a thorough diagnostic evaluation, and a clear understanding of your goals, are the keys to providing you with a successful and beautiful smile.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about cosmetic dentistry. You can also learn more about prepless veneers by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Veneers Without the Drill.”
Dentists often recommend bone grafting to ensure the success of dental implants. And it is likewise common for people to squirm a bit at the thought. Bone graft? That sounds serious. And maybe a bit, well, unappealing. These feelings are completely understandable. After all, this may be something you've never had to consider before. But there's no reason to worry. HereÃ¢Â€Â™s why:
- Bone grafting is not new or experimental. It is actually a very routine part of the implant process, as well as other types of oral and periodontal surgery. And it is very successful when performed by an experienced doctor.
- Bone grafting materials are processed for safety. The grafts used — whether synthetic or from a natural source, such as cow or human bone — have been specially treated for medical use.
- Only a small amount of this bone-grafting material is needed. Once placed in the site of the missing tooth, it serves as a helpful scaffold your body uses to build more of its own bone in that spot.
- Your implant will be more ideally positioned and may work better. It needs a good, strong foundation with which to fuse. But when teeth are lost, this supporting bone is often lost, too. This loss is often unpredictable and bone grafting limits the change that occurs. In fact that's one of the main benefits of replacing missing teeth with implants: they help prevent bone loss just as a natural tooth does.
- Your implant will look so much better! Think about it: Your original tooth was supported to a certain height by the underlying bone. If that bone is now gone, the replacement tooth is going to be much longer because of the missing bone height. It may not look quite right without that additional support.
So if you want the best-looking and best-functioning implant possible, have no fear of bone grafting. And please contact us to discuss any of your concerns, or schedule an appointment for an implant consultation.
You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Can Dentists Rebuild Bone?”
Of all the of amazing procedures in today's dentistry, surgery that causes new bone to grow — in places where it had previously been lost — is high on the list of the most extraordinary. (When bone is lost or resorbed, it is broken down into its mineral components, which are dissolved into the bloodstream. Resorption of tooth-supporting bone often takes place after teeth are lost.) Dental techniques that cause new bone growth are important because a certain amount of bone is needed to replace lost teeth with dental implants.
Today's dental implants themselves are an amazing innovation. Implants consist of a replacement for the tooth's root, usually made of a metal called titanium. A replacement for the crown, the part of the tooth that is visible above the gums, is attached to the titanium root. Titanium has the remarkable quality of being able to fuse with the bone in which it is anchored. This process, first discovered in the 1950s, is called osseointegration.
In the case of missing upper back teeth, many people who wanted dental implants in the past were told that they did not have enough bone to anchor the implants and that they had to get removable dentures instead.
But now a new surgery called maxillary sinus augmentation can cause your body to regenerate bone where it was lost and is needed to anchor dental implants.
Bone in the upper jaw or maxilla usually supports your upper back teeth. Inside the maxilla, on either side of your upper jaw, are air spaces in the bone, which are lined with a membrane. These spaces, called the maxillary sinuses, are generally shaped like pyramids; but their shape and size is different in each person. The new surgical procedures involve lifting up the sinus membrane in the area where bone is needed and filling the space thus created with a bone grafting material. Your body then creates new bone to fill the space. This usually takes about six months. If you have almost enough bone to stabilize the implants, they can be placed simultaneously with the graft, thus saving time and avoiding a second surgical procedure.
All grafting materials used today are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and must be prepared according to their guidelines. They are specially treated to render them completely safe for human use.
After the surgery there is usually no more than mild to moderate swelling and some discomfort, about the same as having a tooth removed.
If you are missing upper back teeth, contact us to schedule an appointment to evaluate your upper jaw. You can also learn more about this procedure by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sinus Surgery.”