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A dental implant is an artificial tooth root placed into the jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge in place, or to provide support for a denture. It is made of titanium which is a completely biocompatible metal.
The classic way for tooth replacement till recently was the fabrication of a bridge. The teeth adjacent to the one missing are prebt , an impresion of the area and prebt teeth is taken and a three piece unit is made in the lab. The three piece unit consists of two crowns that will be placed on the prebt teeth and a pontic for the tooth missing. The bridge is then placed in the mouth with the aid of permanent cements. The material used for the bridge can be porcelain fused to metal, acrylic fused to metal, or all porcelain.
The disadvantage of this method is that the teeth next to the one missing are prebt. This means that healthy tooth structure is removed in order to create an abutment that will accomodate the crown. In contrary, when dental implants are placed, an artificial tooth root is placed in the area where the root of the natural tooth used to be and the adjacent teeth are not prebt. So you can easily realize that the best solution for you is to have an implant instead of a bridge. Of course the appropriate clinical and radiographic examination should be done ahead of time, in order to make sure that an implant can be placed. There are cases that an implant cannot be placed due to inflammation, lack of bone or other reasons. Your doctor will be able to tell you if you are a candidate for dental implants or what needs to be done before implant placement.
To be the devil’s advocate we should mention one case scenario where the placement of a bridge is a better solution than a dental implant. In case the teeth mesial and distal to the one missing need a crown, then you might as well have a bridge placed. That would be the best in terms of cost – benefit.
If you are a smoker you can still have implants placed with a success rate over 90%. But you should take into acount a couple of things. First, if we were to compare the success rate of implants in a group of smokers and the success rate of implants placed in a group of non smokers, we would find high success rate in both groups but double the failures in the smoker group.
Then you should not forget that an implant placement is a small surgical procedure and like in any other procedure smoking retards healing. So smokers should, if not able to quit, at least reduce smoking to the minimum for the first post operative weeks.
The success rate of dental implants is very high. In most cases the success rate reaches up to 100%. To ensure that high percentage of success, the appropriate preoperative examination must be done ahead of time as well as the appropriate postoperative care after the implant surgery. Loosing an implant at an early stage (meaning failure to osseointegrate) is rare.The reason for this early failure is usually connected to an infection.
Another important issue is that after the initial healing period and after the implant is restored, it should be taken care of as if it was your own tooth, because an implant can have a disease similar to periodontis called periimplantitis.
Dental implants are not electronic devices that come with a guarantee. But usually all the well known implant companies replace a failed to osseoitegrate dental implant at no charge. It should be mentioned that the chance for an implant not to osseointegrate is very small, as long as the whole procedure is done by doctors that are trained to do it.
The dental implants are at the moment the most advanced method to replace missing teeth and are meant to last lifetime. To make them last, it is essential that they receive the appropriate care: proper oral hygiene at home and regural professional cleanings at the dental office.
Another important point to realize from those of you that lost teeth to periodontitis is that with dental implants you get a second chance. So you should take better care of them than you took your own natural teeth. Impants do not get caries like the natural teeth but they can get diseases similar to gingivitis and periodontitis, called mucositis and periimplantitis. Also like any other crown and bridge in your mouth, implant crowns and bridges might get fractured and need some kind of adjustment.
Indeed there are expensive and cheap implants that can justify up to a point the range of the therapy cost that exists in the dental market. Almost all the implants are made of titanium (the most biocompatible metal). Their difference is usually in the macro and micro structure of the implant and aslo in the way that the implant is connected to the abutment (which is the part that comes out of the gum and will accomodate the implant crown).
The thing is that not all the implants that exist have the same bibliographic background. In medicine all the new material or methods must be proven to be effective or successful and definetely not harmful through a series of studies. Uusally the so called “cheap” implants are not tested in that many studies and in order to be competetive, the company that makes them reduces the price. So to protect yourself, the first thing you need to do is to ask your doctor the brand of implant that will be placed in your mouth so you can look it up in the internet. Also all the big companies that make implants that are well known provide a document of authenticity for each implant they sell. You can ask your doctor to give you yours!
The impant therapy is a team work and is offered by a group of doctors: the surgeon that places the implant and the prosthodontist or general dentist that restores it.
The dental implants are intimately connected with the gum tissues and underlying bone. Since periodontists are the dental experts who specialize in precisely these areas, they are ideal members of your implant team. Not only do periodontists have experience working with other dental professionals, they also have the special knowledge, training and facilities that you need to have teeth that look and feel just like your own.
Implant surgery is usually a routine dental surgery that takes place at a well equipped dental office with topical anesthesia.
There are very few cases that need to be performed in a hospital and under general anesthesia. These cases refer to patients that are very medically compromised and to cases with such an amount of bone resorption that will need a bone graft from an extra oral site in order to have implants placed in their mouth.
An implant surgery is a routine dental surgery that takes place in the dental office, with topical anesthesia and you can usually go back to work the next day.
You should expect though that after implant surgery you will swell. The swelling usually starts to wear off after the third day of surgery. So you should be prepared in case your work is having to deal with and talk to people. In some cases you might even bruise. Both bruising and swelling are part of normal healing and you should not be concerned. But again if your job requires certain aesthetics, you should consider planing the implant surgery before a weekend or taking a couple of days off work.
As far as food is concerned, your doctor will probably recommend not eating the first couple of hours after surgery and then for the whole fisrt postoperative week your doctor will recommend soft food and at a low temperature. Crunchy and hard to chew food like different kind of nuts, hard meat and crackers should not be consumed.
There is no case that you should sacrifice your own natural teeth for the shake of aesthetics. Implants are the most advanced therapy that dentistry has to offer but only in case of missing teeth or in case the natural teeth cannot be salvaged.
If you are not happy with your smile, you might find help in other dental treatments like orthodontics, gum grafts or porcelain veneers. For more specific suggestions you need to see your doctor for a consult.
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