Placing dental implants
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Just showing off the residents training on placing dental implants in a FAKE mandible…I promise…
by Dr. J. Slaven
Implants have become the standard of care for the replacement of missing teeth. Prior to this development, our choices for replacing missing teeth were fixed bridges or removable partial dentures.
Replacing missing teeth with fixed bridges involves preparing the teeth on each side of the missing teeth for crowns, which are attached to the artificial tooth replacement as one piece that is cemented to the prepared teeth. While this is still an acceptable treatment it has the downside of doing a procedure on two good teeth and turning a one tooth problem into a multiple tooth problem. Every time a tooth is subjected to a procedure that involves removal of tooth structure its living part, the pulp, becomes inflamed, and it never recovers from this 100%, which can lead to problems such as the need for root canal therapy in the future. The happiest tooth is one that has not been drilled or ground down, which the teeth supporting a bridge have been.
If there are not teeth on either side of the missing tooth or teeth the non implant option is a removable partial denture. This also has problems associated with it. The clips or clasps that hold the partial denture to the supporting teeth put unnatural pressures on these teeth because even the best fitting partial denture will move slightly when chewing. This can damage the gums and bone around the supporting teeth over time. I liken this to what happens when you rock a fence post. Partial dentures require meticulous oral hygiene to prevent decay or gum infection of the supporting teeth. The clasps create what I call the perfect English Muffin full of nooks and crannies that trap food and allow plaque accumulation. Although a partial denture is still considered an acceptable option for replacement of missing teeth, the patient must understand its limitations.
The limitations of both fixed bridges and partial dentures that I have explained do not apply to replacement of teeth with implants. Implants provide permanent tooth replacement that is as close as we can get to your own natural tooth and are the better choice.
Dental implants are a highly durable and long lasting solution for tooth loss. They are designed to be permanently attached to the bone in your jaw and if properly maintained will last you a lifetime. They look just like your real teeth and no one will even be aware that you have dental implants. Almost everyone is a good candidate for a dental implant procedure if their gums are in good health and they can safely handle the necessary oral surgery.
The only drawback to dental implants is the length of time that the procedure takes from start to finish. This can be 3 to 6 months depending on how long the healing process takes. Certain medical conditions can also effect the chances that a dental implant procedure will be successful. Patients who suffer from diabetes, alcoholism, or gum disease and those patients that smoke have a lower success rate and tend to take a longer time to complete the process.
The Dental Implants itself will act as the root of your new tooth. It is made out of titanium and is inserted through the root of the tooth that it is replacing and down into the bone. Your dentist will make a small incision in your gum to gain access while you are under a local anesthesia. After the implant is inserted you will need time to heal and allow the bone and implant to fuse together. Once you have healed your dentist will attach a small post to the titanium root that will hold your tooth tooth snuggly in place. A new crown will then be installed that has been designed to fit in with your remaining real teeth or other implants. This new crown can be made to any shape and have any color so that it will be a perfect match and no one will ever know it isn’t a real tooth.
Dental implants look and feel like real teeth and are designed to be permanent. This eliminates many of the embarrassing problems that patients experience with other solutions such as dentures. Implants provide a greater comfort level and their permanent nature give patients a confidence boost. Speech problems caused by slipping dentures are also avoided because implants are installed as individual teeth. This single tooth method also leads to better oral hygiene as it easier to get between the teeth and keep them clean. Most people with dental implants completely forget that the implants are even there.
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