Don’t let fear prevent you from making a good choice.
When most patients hear of the word ‘implant’, they are immediately fearful. The image of a drill boring holes through their gums into the bone and putting a ‘screw’ in the jaw is too mechanical for their liking.
If they are willing to listen and find out more about the benefits of dental implants, their perception would be changed.
Dental implants have evolved tremendously. Today’s advances in medical and dental science have allowed dental implants to be inserted in a predictably successful manner.
Consequences of tooth loss.
Teeth loss may be due to fracture because of large restorations, gross decay, gum disease, or heavy biting. The effects of tooth loss may or may not be evident.
- Speech impediment – loss of front teeth may result in difficulty in the pronunciation of certain words or cause lisping. Appearance is also affected.
- Biting efficiency – when a tooth is lost, the opposite tooth becomes non- functional. The load of biting forces is distributed over a smaller surface area of the teeth resulting in greater masticatory force over existing teeth. This may result in chipped tooth/ fillings.
- Effects on surrounding teeth. The opposing tooth may over-erupt locking the bite. The adjacent teeth may also tilt into the space.
- Effect on bone after tooth loss. – Bone resorbs with time. In some cases, the ridge becomes knife-edged. To have a suitable size implant fixture inserted may require a bone graft procedure.
Why use a dental implant to replace a missing tooth or teeth
Conventionally, a missing tooth is replaced with a denture or bridge.
A denture is a removable prosthesis with the disadvantage of having to remove it often for cleaning. It also poses risks to other teeth as it needs to anchor on them for stability and retention. A small denture also risks being swallowed and impedes speech in some people.
A bridge is a series of crowns that are joined together and cemented over existing, neighboring teeth called abutments.
It is not recommended to bridge over good sound teeth, in which case implant is the best option.
A tooth implant is now a popular choice. The concept of implants dated back thousands of years with proof of human remains containing various forms of implants of different materials. It was Prof Branemark, a Swedish physician and researcher who discovered fusion between titanium and animal bone, a process called Osseointegration.
In 1965, he put the first dental implant in a volunteer that lasted 40 years. Since then, it has evolved into an amazing choice for people who have lost teeth and are able to enjoy the lifestyle that they had before.
There are many brands in the market producing dental implant fixtures and their design have been modified over the years to improve osseointegration of implants to the bone which include increased strength, reduce plaque build-up, operator-friendly features, et cetera.
Advantages of a tooth implant.
1 All titanium implants osseointegrate and the rate of long term success is very high.
2 This is the closest to having the natural tooth restored — -Speech, Aesthetics, self-confidence, and mastication will not be impacted.
3 Tooth implant material is compatible with the oral tissues, of great strength, and resistant to decay.
Ingredients for success
1 Case Selection — Some patients are not suitable for implants due to their medical history that contraindicates implants insertion. Patients on Forsemax for Osteoporosis may have compromised healing. Poor bone quality must be treated with great care and patience.
Prognosis may be guarded for some patients due to lifestyle habits like smoking or excessive grinding of teeth. The latter can be treated with a nightguard to prevent damage to teeth and implants.
2 Operator Skill- Careful diagnosis and planning go a long way to ensure a successful implant procedure.
3 Post-implant care — Patients should understand that the implant may not be susceptible to decay and resistant to heavy bite but it is still prone to gum disease that can destroy the supporting structures of the implant such as the bone resulting in the implant being loosened. Hence good Oral hygiene is key.
4 Long term maintenance — Regular check-ups and prophylaxis of teeth are advisable.
Today’s advances in technology and dental science have allowed the precise placing of implant fixtures and repair of lost bone. The patient’s lifestyle is restored or improved with the availability of dental implants. This is good news to many people of all ages who have feared the replacement of teeth and suffered the inconveniences of wearing dentures as well as having good teeth trimmed to have a bridge done.