Posts for tag: dental implants
Let’s say you’re traveling to Italy to surprise your girlfriend, who is competing in an alpine ski race… and when you lower the scarf that’s covering your face, you reveal to the assembled paparazzi that one of your front teeth is missing. What will you do about this dental dilemma?
Sound far-fetched? It recently happened to one of the most recognized figures in sports — Tiger Woods. There’s still some uncertainty about exactly how this tooth was taken out: Was it a collision with a cameraman, as Woods’ agent reported… or did Woods already have some problems with the tooth, as others have speculated? We still don’t know for sure, but the big question is: What happens next?
Fortunately, contemporary dentistry offers several good solutions for the problem of missing teeth. Which one is best? It depends on each individual’s particular situation.
Let’s say that the visible part of the tooth (the crown) has been damaged by a dental trauma (such as a collision or a blow to the face), but the tooth still has healthy roots. In this case, it’s often possible to keep the roots and replace the tooth above the gum line with a crown restoration (also called a cap). Crowns are generally made to order in a dental lab, and are placed on a prepared tooth in a procedure that requires two office visits: one to prepare the tooth for restoration and to make a model of the mouth and the second to place the custom-manufactured crown and complete the restoration. However, in some cases, crowns can be made on special machinery right in the dental office, and placed during the same visit.
But what happens if the root isn’t viable — for example, if the tooth is deeply fractured, or completely knocked out and unable to be successfully re-implanted?
In that case, a dental implant is probably the best option for tooth replacement. An implant consists of a screw-like post of titanium metal that is inserted into the jawbone during a minor surgical procedure. Titanium has a unique property: It can fuse with living bone tissue, allowing it to act as a secure anchor for the replacement tooth system. The crown of the implant is similar to the one mentioned above, except that it’s made to attach to the titanium implant instead of the natural tooth.
Dental implants look, function and “feel” just like natural teeth — and with proper care, they can last a lifetime. Although they may be initially expensive, their quality and longevity makes them a good value over the long term. A less-costly alternative is traditional bridgework — but this method requires some dental work on the adjacent, healthy teeth; plus, it isn’t expected to last as long as an implant, and it may make the teeth more prone to problems down the road.
What will the acclaimed golfer do? No doubt Tiger’s dentist will help him make the right tooth-replacement decision.
If you have a gap in your grin — whatever the cause — contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation, and find out which tooth-replacement system is right for you. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Dental Implant Surgery” and “Crowns & Bridgework.”
With their durability, versatility and life-likeness, there’s no doubt dental implants have revolutionized teeth replacement. If you’re considering dental implants, however, there are some issues that could impact how and when you receive implants, or if you should consider another type of restoration.
Cost. Dental implants are initially more expensive than other tooth restorations, especially for multiple tooth replacement. However, be sure you consider the projected cost over the long-term, not just installation costs. Because of their durability, implants can last decades with little maintenance cost. In the long run, you may actually pay more for dental care with other types of restorations.
Bone health. Dental implants depend on a certain amount of bone to properly situate them for the best crown placement. If you’ve experienced extensive bone loss, however, there may not be enough to support the implant. This can often be overcome with grafting — immediately after extraction, at the time of implantation or a few months before implantation — to encourage bone growth. In some cases, though, bone loss may be so extensive you may need to consider an alternative restoration.
Gum Health. While implants themselves are impervious to infection, they’re supported by gum and bone tissues that can be affected. Infected tissues around an implant could eventually detach and lead to implant failure. If you have periodontal (gum) disease, we must first bring it under control and render your gums infection-free before installing implants. It’s also important to maintain effective oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings and checkups for optimum implant health.
Complications from osteoporosis. People with osteoporosis — in which the bones lose bone density and are more prone to fracture — are often treated with drugs known as bisphosphonates. In less than 1% of cases of long-term use, a patient may develop osteonecrosis in which the bone in the jaw may lose its vitality and die. As with bone loss, this condition could make implant placement difficult or impractical. Most dentists recommend stopping treatment of bisphosphonates for about three months before implant surgery.
If you have any of these issues or other complications with your oral health, be sure to discuss those with us before considering dental implants. With proper planning and care, most of these difficulties can be overcome for a successful outcome.
If you would like more information on pre-existing conditions that may affect implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Osteoporosis & Dental Implants” and “Infections around Implants.”
Q: Is there much of a difference between fixed and removable dentures?
A: There’s a BIG difference! Removable dentures are the type your grandparents might have had — and possibly their grandparents, too. They work well enough after you get used to them, but there’s always the issue of slippage, poor fit, limited function… and potential embarrassment. Modern fixed dentures, however, get their stability from today’s state-of-the-art system for tooth replacement: dental implants. They won’t loosen or slip, they function and “feel” like your own natural teeth, and they can last for years and years to come.
Q: How are fixed dentures supported?
A: Each arch (set of teeth comprising the top or bottom jaw) of a fixed denture is anchored into the jaw bone by four or more dental implants. These small screw-like devices, made of titanium metal, are placed into the jawbone in a minor surgical procedure. Once set in place, they remain permanently attached by both mechanical forces and osseointegration — the process in which living bone cells actually become fused with the metal implants themselves.
Q: What is the procedure for getting dental implants like?
A: Before having any work done, you will receive a thorough examination and have a set of diagnostic images made. Implant surgery is normally performed in the dental office, using local anesthesia or conscious sedation. If any failing teeth must be extracted (removed), that will be done first. Next, small openings are made in the gums and the jawbone, and the implants are placed in precise locations. Sometimes, a set of temporary teeth can be attached to the implants immediately; other times, the implants will be allowed to heal for a period of time.
Q: Besides added stability, are there other advantages to fixed dentures?
A: Yes! As they become integrated in the jaw, dental implants actually help preserve the quantity and quality of bone in the jaw; removable dentures, on the other hand, decrease bone quantity and quality. This is important because the jawbone plays a vital role in supporting facial features like lips and cheeks. When the facial features lose support, it can make a person look prematurely aged. Also, people who wear removable dentures often have trouble eating “challenging” foods like raw fruits and vegetables (which are highly nutritious), and opt for softer, more processed (and less nutritious) foods. With fixed dentures, however, you can eat the foods you like.
Q: Aren't fixed dentures with dental implants more expensive?
A: Initially, the answer is yes — but in the long run, they may not be. Unlike removable dentures, which inevitably need to be re-lined or remade as the jawbone shrinks, fixed dentures can last for the rest of your life. They don’t require adhesives or creams, and you will never have to take them out at night and clean them. In fact, you can think of them as a long-term investment in yourself that pays off with a better quality of life!
If you’d like more information on fixed dentures, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants: Your Best Option for Replacing Missing Teeth.”
As dental implants increase in popularity, the surgical procedures to install them are becoming quite commonplace. Still, many people are nervous about this procedure, perhaps not really knowing what to expect. So if you're considering dental implants, here's a rundown of what happens before, during and after the procedure.
Dental implants are actually a tooth root replacement system. A post made of titanium is inserted into the jaw bone at the site of the missing tooth. Because of titanium's bone-friendly molecular structure bone cells naturally gravitate to its surface; over time the inserted post and bone will fuse. After a few weeks of this process, the post will be ready for a porcelain crown, bridge or overdenture to be attached to it.
Before the implant surgery you will undergo a complete dental exam. Everything is planned out in advance so that we know the exact location along the jaw to place the implants. In many cases we create a surgical template that can be used during surgery to identify these precise locations.
The procedure itself is painless for most patients, requiring only a local anesthesia. The procedure begins with small incisions in the gum tissue to allow us to see the precise point in the bone for the implant. We then create a small hole in the bone, using a drilling sequence of successive larger holes until we've achieved the best fit for the implant (during drilling you may experience a mild vibration). We then remove the implants from their sterile packaging, place them immediately into the drilled hole, then stitch the gum tissue back into place.
After surgery, most patients encounter only a mild level of discomfort for a day or two. This can be managed by prescription doses of common pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen, although we will use surgical strength ibuprofen. Rarely do we need to prescribe something stronger.
Once the implant fuses permanently with the bone, we then affix the final crown or other dental device in a painless procedure. This final step will give you back not only the use of your teeth, but a more appealing smile as well.
If you would like more information about dental implant surgery, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implant Surgery.”