Dental implants are artificial tooth replacements that solve the problem of tooth loss. The treatment can be categorized as a type of both prosthetic and cosmetic dentistry. Given the range of restorative options for the treatment of missing teeth, dental implants are regarded as the most durable and functionally effective. Sometimes implants may be the only reasonable alternative for the restoration of complete functionality of the teeth and supporting structures.
Tooth loss occurs as a result of various reasons, including tooth decay, excessive wear and tear, trauma to the mouth, gum disease, root canal failure, and congenital defects.
Most people who have lost teeth become self-conscious when smiling or talking. Tooth loss also results in irregularities in the bite, which can have the consequence of affecting eating habits in a negative manner. The consequences of tooth loss can be easily eliminated with dental implants.
Advantages of Implant Dentistry
Dental implants are a permanent remedy for tooth loss, and they are stronger and more durable than other restorations, including dentures and bridges. Implants have the added benefit of effective use in conjunction with other dental restorations. For instance, an implant may function to support a crown or bridge. Implants may also be used with dentures to improve stability and decrease irritation of the gum tissue.
While your general or restorative dentist may perform any crown or bridge placements related with the implant restoration, it is more likely that a prosthodontist will carry out this critical procedure. Periodontists and oral surgeons perform the dental implant surgery itself.
Candidacy for Dental Implants
To determine if dental implants are an appropriate treatment for you, seek the advice of a dentist who has training in implants, crowns, and/or surgery. A full dental examination and assessment will be completed in order to evaluate candidacy for implants.
The dental implant procedure may be performed any time after adolescence or when the bone is fully grown. People with specific medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, or gum disease, may necessitate extra dental treatment before the implantation can be carried out.
Bone density and quantity will additionally be assessed by your dentist. If you have experienced bone loss as a result of periodontal disease, implants may not be an appropriate treatment. Sometimes your dentist may recommend bone grafting to provide a stable support for the implant.
It is important to be aware of the level of training achieved by your dentist in dental implants and surgery. Some private organizations offer training that may be accomplished over a weekend, but medical associations such as the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and the American Academy of Periodontology provide more extensive training.
Dental Implant Procedure
After your implant procedure, it will be hard to tell the implant apart from your other natural teeth. This is due in part to the structural and functional link between the implant and the existing bone. The implant procedure is usually done in a single visit but requires a period of osseointegration.
Osseointegration is the process involving the direct connection of a dental implant root and the bone of the jaw, which is critical for the success of the treatment. Osseointegrated implants are the type of dental implant that is most frequently used. An osseointegrated implant requires a period of three to six months to anchor and heal, after which the procedure may be completed with the attaching of a dental crown.
In the first step of the procedure, your jaw will be prepared for the placing of the implant, which is usually made up of a titanium screw and a crown. Your dentist will drill a small pilot hole in the jaw that will guide the screw that will hold the dental implant in place. A high degree of expertise is required in this step to avoid injuring important jaw and face structures. Next, the pilot hole is slowly widened so that the implant screw can be placed in. A protective cover screw is then placed on top to allow healing and osseointegration.
After several months, when osseointegration is complete, your dentist will remove the protective cover and place a temporary crown on top of the dental implant. Your gum will grow around the temporary crown, which will later be replaced with a permanent crown.
Success Rates of Dental Implants
The dental implant procedure is one of the most successful treatments in dentistry. While there are of course no guarantees, research has indicated that the five-year success rate for lower jaw implants is 95 percent, and 90 percent for upper jaw implants. The success rate for lower jaw implants is slightly higher because the lower jaw teeth are more dense than the upper jaw, rendering implantation and osseointegration potentially easier to achieve. Implantation of the lower back teeth produces the highest success rate among all dental implants.
Dental implants may not succeed for several reasons, the most likely cause being a failure in the osseointegration process. For instance, if the implant is placed in a poor position, the implant and the bone may not undergo integration. Furthermore, infection or damage may occur with the implants and crowns may become loose. People who take immuno-suppressants tend to have a higher risk of their dental implant failing, as well as people who smoke. Your dentist may advise you to quit smoking before undergoing the implantation.
An advantage of dental implants is that they are not vulnerable to the formation of cavities. However, like gum disease or periodontitis can develop around a natural tooth, peri-implantitis can develop around an implanted tooth if oral hygiene is poorly maintained.
New Strategies for Implant Dentistry
A more recent strategy in the dental work of implant treatment has been to place implants into locations where teeth have recently been extracted. When this is done successfully, it can speed up the process of osseointegration, thus shortening treatment time by a couple of months. In order for this strategy to be implemented, the location of the extracted tooth has to be an ideal fit for the dental implant. Often the extracted tooth site is too wide and your dentist will need to perform some work to create a fit for the implant.
Another strategy that address the challenge of placing implants within narrow spaces is the use of mini-implants. Mini-implants may be an ideal replacement for small teeth and incisors. They may also be recommended for people who require pre-molar teeth or stabilization of lower jaw dentures. Only certain dentists are approved to perform a mini-implant procedure.
Compared to traditional implants, mini implants are approximately half the width and are less costly. During a mini-implant procedure, the implant is not fully submerged and does not utilize a screw. If the implant is not successful, grafting will not be required because of the small size of the implant.
Cost of Dental Implants
Many factors influence the cost of dental implants, including the kind of implantation, your dentist performing the procedure, the material used, the location where the procedure is performed, and the coverage of your dental insurance.
The cost of a single implant may range from $1,000 to $5,000, and the cost of full-mouth reconstructive dental implants can range from $24,000 to $100,000.