A Swedish orthopedic surgeon, Per-Ingvar Brånemark invented the first dental implant in 1952. Fast forward to the 21st century, dental implants have become the cornerstone of cosmetic, restorative, and aesthetic dentistry. While there have been tremendous advancements in dental care, millions of Americans across the country still suffer from gum disease and eventual tooth loss. This is where dental implants come in.
But Why A Dental Implant?
In progressive cases of periodontitis (gum disease), rapid bone loss of the jaws leads to avulsion of teeth and eventual teeth loss. Alternatively, a person may also lose their teeth to accidents, widespread caries (cavities), or certain diseases (HIV/AIDS, cancer, etc.).
To replace a missing tooth or teeth, bridges or partial/full dentures were the earlier options. While these options still exist, these involve multiple appointments, long procedure times, and unnecessary cutting down of healthy teeth to fit the bridges in place. Moreover, they have to be replaced much quickly.
For patients who want a much more permanent solution for tooth replacement, implants are recommended. Implants are fixtures mimicking teeth roots and these are placed surgically into the jaw bone. Implants act as foundations for removable or fixed teeth replacements that match your natural ones.
Dental Implant Surgery
The process involving dental implants involves a variety of specialists include an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (specializes in tissues of the mouth, jaw, and face), a periodontist (specializes in treating gums and bones that support the teeth), a prosthodontist (designs and fits artificial teeth), and maybe an ENT (ear, nose, and throat specialist).
Before a patient is advised for implant surgery, they have to go through a thorough and tedious examination which determines if a patient is physically and mentally fit to undergo the procedure.
- Dental X-rays and other imaging will be taken to assess the bone health. If a patient doesn’t have an underlying healthy jaw bone, dental implants are not recommended.
- Your medical history will also be reviewed. Patients with diseases like osteoporosis aren’t advised implants due to the progressive bone loss they suffer. Other issues like hypertension and cardiac issues are monitored by the drugs the patient might be taking. You will also be advised to get in touch with your general practitioner to assess if you are a suitable candidate for implant surgery.
- The treatment plan is tailored to each patient depending on the number of teeth that have to be replaced, the condition of the jaw bone, etc.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Dental Implants?
There are various advantages and disadvantages to dental implants. And while the pros outweigh the cons, it is up to you to decide if this is what you want.
Pros of Dental Implants
- Dental implants imitate the look and feel of natural teeth. This is why they’re the go-to recommendation for replacing missing teeth. The increased aesthetics also add to the confidence and self-esteem of patients undergoing the implant procedure.
- Implants are placed into the jaw bone by surgically drilling holes and fixing them into position. It fuses with the surrounding area through a process called osseointegration. This integration allows the implant to become long-lasting and permanent. If the patient involves themselves with good oral health practices and maintenance, the implant can last a lifetime.
- Due to the placing of the implant in the jaw bone, it offers better functionality of the tooth prosthesis. Dentures and other removable options get displaced while performing basic functions such as eating, talking, etc. The biggest advantage of an implant is that they remain fixed in their place. Additionally, a patient can eat whatever they choose, some of which they would have had to avoid with other restorative options.
- Tooth replacement options like crowns, bridges, partial dentures, etc. involve cutting down healthy teeth to make space for the restorations to fit in. Healthy teeth retain their full structural integrity when a patient opts for dental implants thereby avoiding any future issues with the teeth that would’ve otherwise have been shaved down (like infections, caries, gum disease, etc.)
- The roots of teeth provide structural integrity to the face and jaw bone. In instances of tooth loss, the harmony is impaired. Teeth present adjacent to the area of loss start to tip into these spaces and cause misalignment. Bone loss is another added complication of tooth loss. This also leads to a distorted facial structure. Implants, because they’re placed into the jaw bone and mimic teeth roots, preserve and improve the facial structure. The addition of the crown prosthesis on top also prevents malocclusion.
Cons of Dental Implants
- The tedious thing about a dental implant is that it can take 6 months or more from the first visit to the dentist to the placement of the prosthesis. Additionally, post-implant-placement healing also takes considerable time and depends on your oral and bone health. If you’re looking for a quick fix for your lost tooth, we’re afraid this isn’t the way to go.
- Dental implants have a success rate of more than 95%. However, certain conditions lead to the failure of implants. The level of osseointegration between the post and bone is dependent on the bone quality. The implant area is always assessed during the initial examination, and if your dentist feels like your jaw bone (periodontium) isn’t strong or healthy enough to support the implant, they will not recommend it to you.
- Diseases like uncontrolled diabetes, collagen disorders, AIDS, etc., hamper the healing and regenerative processes. These interfere with the osseointegration and lead to implant failure.
- Patients who smoke are also advised against implants.
- If an implant is overloaded, it can cause the jaw bone to fracture or post misplacement, also leading to failure of the implant.
- Surgical sites can get infected if the patient fails to follow the post-operative instructions or if they don’t maintain their oral health. The untreated infection causes peri-implantitis which is an inflammatory condition interfering with implant stability.
- Some patients might require additional procedures to support the placement of the implant. These involve bone grafting if the underlying bone isn’t thick enough. In cases where the sinuses are located too close to the jaw bone, sinus lifts are performed. Additional surgeries increase the wait time for the implant and also the overall cost.
- Due to implant placement being a multi-step process, multiple appointments have to be made. Additionally, implant costs aren’t fully supported by insurance providers. This means you’ll be picking up a pretty hefty tab. A full mouth of implants costs up to tens of thousands of dollars.
For any more information related to dental implants and their costs, get in touch with the team at Norwood Dental today.