IMPLANTS & TOOTH REPLACEMENTS

One of the best options for tooth replacement is with the use of implants.  Implants are basically artificial roots made from high-grade titanium alloys which integrate directly to your jaw bone.  The main advantages of implants are:

  • Does not require the use of teeth adjacent to a space to become a bridge anchor.  This allows a better prognosis for those teeth and obviates the need to prepare them(cut them down) for a bridge abutment.

  • Can be used to replace one, several or all teeth.

  • Avoids the need for removable appliances such as partial dentures

  • Stabilizes complete dentures.  Not only does this greatly increase the chewing efficiency when no teeth are present, but allows an open palate design thereby giving better taste and texture appreciation.

  • Preserves the bone where the teeth used to be.

  • Success.  Once integration to the bone occurs, they have excellent long-term stability.

  • Comfort.  This is the closest thing we have to replacing lost teeth.  

As with anything, there are disadvantages to implants.  Implants can be used in almost all circumstances, however, their integration can at times be quite complicated.  Some disadvantages and contraindications of implants might include the following:

  • Contraindications for implant use may occur with smokers and diabetics.  This is not a complete contraindication, however the percentage of success of the outcome may be less.

  • Failure to integrate.  Implants are among the most successful forms of therapy we have, however, only 94 - 97% of implants integrate to the bone.  The rest fail and require removal.  

  • Implant placement may require complicated bone grafting or surgical sinus-lift procedures where significant bone has been lost following extraction.  This is usually a factor of the time that the teeth have been missing.

  • Implant therapy usually takes at least a half year and sometimes well over a year before the teeth are finally restored.  This depends on the condition of the bone prior to implantation.  Having said this, more and more procedures are geared towards immediate implantation following removal of the tooth/teeth.  We should  be seeing more procedures like this in the future.

  • Cost.  This is generally one of the most expensive forms of tooth replacement therapy and is seldom covered by insurance plans.

Although fewer and fewer people seek implants in order to replace an existing denture (simply because fewer people have dentures today), implants are now the treatment of choice for replacement of teeth that are lost.  The most common situation where this occurs is when a root canalled tooth has fractured or has become untreatable and requires removal.

In the case where one or several teeth are replaced by an implant, chewing efficiency and comfort are basically the same as though the teeth were still present.  In the event that implants are used to replace an existing removable partial denture or to stabilize complete denture, chewing efficiency and taste perception are dramatically increased.  In the case of dentures stabilized by implants we see more frequent cracking of the implant retained denture simply due to the multi-fold increase in chewing ability of the patient.  These forces are then transmitted to the denture.  Denture repairs in this situation are quite simple.

At this time, we generally use either a periodontist or an oral surgeon for the placement of implants.  Once integrated, you are returned to our office for final restoration.  If you have any questions as to whether implants are right for you, please contact us with your questions.

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