Posts for tag: dental implants
Most people think of bone as rock-solid, but it's actually a living tissue that's constantly changing. This has significant implications for your oral health, general health, and appearance — if you are one of the 70% of Americans missing at least one tooth.
Throughout the day, your top and bottom teeth make hundreds of fleeting contacts with each other. These small stresses are transmitted though the periodontal ligament (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth) that supports each tooth in its socket like a hammock. Think of it as a gentle push on the hammock, which causes the tooth to gently bump the underlying bone. The bone then builds up in the spot that's receiving stress to counteract it. This constant remodeling of bone is what allows bone to stay healthy and strong.
When a tooth is lost, the bone does not receive that gentle stress. It reacts by literally melting away. Sometimes this happens fairly quickly — in a matter of months. After the tooth-supporting bone is lost, the jawbone itself begins the same process of deterioration. This could eventually change the shape of the face, as the distance from nose to chin can decrease — even if only a few back teeth are missing. The results aren't pretty. But the good news is, there's a way to prevent all this.
Dental implants, which function as substitute tooth roots, actually save underlying bone when teeth are lost. They do this because they are made of titanium, which fuses to the bone in which it's set, stabilizing it. The implant is topped by a realistic-looking crown, which replaces the part of the missing tooth that was visible in the mouth. Together, they look and function just as your natural tooth did.
If you are missing a lot of teeth, implants can also be used to anchor bridges or even removable dentures while providing that same bone-saving benefit. And when you consider that they are so durable they should never need replacement, implants are a great investment.
You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
The best method for permanently replacing a missing tooth is with a dental implant. But did you know that there are two main techniques for placing implants? Implants can be placed either using a one stage or a two stage surgical technique, and as their names suggests, one is performed in one step while the other requires a second surgery.
With a one-stage procedure, a healing abutment is placed at the time of surgery. An abutment is a connector that attaches the implant from the bone into the mouth and which protrudes through the gum tissues. Following a 3 to 6 month healing period in which the implant fuses to the bone, a crown is then placed on the implant restoring the immediate appearance of a healthy, normal tooth. One-stage implant systems are generally used when the bone quality is good, guaranteeing good initial implant stability. They are also used when cosmetics is not a concern, such as the back areas of the mouth.
Under special conditions an implant can be placed and a crown placed on top of it at the same time. However, this is a very special circumstance requiring ideal conditions and surgical experience as well as crown fabrication know-how. It is generally safer and wiser not to subject an implant to biting forces until it is fully healed and integrated with the supporting bone.
A two-stage procedure is typically used for replacing teeth where there is no immediate need for a cosmetic solution and when more of a margin of safety is required. With this approach, the implant(s) are placed into the jawbone and the gum tissues cover them. They are not exposed to the mouth, but stay buried and left to heal. Once healed, a second surgery is performed to attach an abutment for securing the crown in place. This approach is used when there is poorer bone quality or quantity. This may make it necessary to regenerate bone around the implant at the time of its placement. There may also be other health considerations dictating that a two-stage approach may be indicated.
Depending on your individual situation and medical status, our implant team will determine which approach is best for you. To learn more about these two procedures, read the Dear Doctor article, “Staging Surgery In Implant Dentistry.” You are also welcome to contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.
Before determining if a bridge or an implant will work best for you, here is some useful background information. There are two main parts to a tooth; the crown or part that you see above the gum line and the root portion that is below the gum line and encased in bone — the part that is replaced by a dental implant.
A dental implant is inserted into the jawbone during a surgical procedure. The implant is actually a titanium screw-like device that is placed in contact with the bone. During a 3 to 6 month healing period, it subsequently fuses to the bone. A crown made from dental porcelain, gold or a combination of both is then attached to the implant to mimic a healthy, normal tooth.
There are two critical reasons why implants are the preferred method for permanently replacing an adult tooth. The first is that they are less susceptible to gum disease and they are not subject to tooth decay. The second is that because they attach to the jawbone and not to the adjacent teeth. And while an implant may cost a little more initially, when compared to the longevity and replacement cost of bridgework over a lifetime, they may cost less.
By contrast, a fixed bridge is also a non-removable restoration or prosthesis (replacement part) that is held in place by attaching it to your natural adjacent teeth. The treatment gets its name from the French word for bridge, “pont,” as the tooth being replaced is called a pontic. Before placing a bridge, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth must be prepared by removing layers of tooth enamel. Three new teeth are then crafted as a single unit from dental porcelain and/or precious metals with crowns on either side of the pontic. The pontic is held in place when the crowns are placed. Bridgework is at risk for gum disease and tooth decay and requires careful maintenance.
As with most dental procedures you have options and choices. Luckily, when it comes to determining whether a bridge or an implant will work best for you, you can rely upon our expertise. However, by having a clear understanding of these two options you are now better prepared for working with us should you require this treatment option. To learn more read the article, “Implants Vs. Bridgework.” Or, contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.
When a device meant to make your life easier doesn't function properly, it can be extremely frustrating. This is sometimes the case for people who wear lower dentures, which loosen over time. These removable replacement teeth can become less reliable and more uncomfortable. Why does this happen?
The answer is bone loss. When a tooth is lost, the bone surrounding it deteriorates and this will change the shape of the jawbone in your mouth. You may find that a lower denture that once had a snug fit on your lower jaw is now sliding around. This happens more often on the bottom because your muscular tongue pushes against the denture. Also, a top denture has more surface area due to an artificial palate to help create suction to the roof of the mouth and keep it in place.
Dental implants, which permanently replace the roots of teeth, do not loosen and they also prevent bone loss. But replacing a whole set of bottom teeth with dental implants and crowns is expensive. What to do?
There's a relatively new solution that combines the security of implants with the affordability of a removable denture. It's called an overdenture, and it may be something you want to consider. An overdenture is a lot like the removable lower denture you already have, only it fits over two implants strategically placed in your lower jaw. While the lower denture is still removable, its stability is greatly improved.
Studies have shown that people with two-implant overdentures have a higher quality of life, and receive better nutrition, than those wearing conventional dentures. It's not hard to figure out why: A more stable denture makes it easier to eat healthy foods such as vegetables — or, really, any foods — and prevents embarrassing slippage of false teeth.
You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Implant Overdentures for the Lower Jaw.”
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.