Dental implants are one of the greatest advances in modern dentistry. Combining science and technology, implants replace single teeth or multiple teeth and mimic Mother Nature in both function and esthetics.
Teeth can be lost for a number of reasons. Dental decay, periodontal disease, and trauma are but a few reasons why we lose teeth. Unfortunately, Mother Nature did not intend for us to incise and chew our food with missing teeth! Losing a tooth is like knocking over the first domino. Although our friends may not know we are missing a few posterior teeth, missing teeth place the burden of chewing on remaining teeth. This burden, coupled with large restorations and teeth in a weakened periodontal (disease) state accelerates or increases the chances of loosing other teeth by putting undo stresses on remaining teeth. Missing posterior teeth may not be visible to our friends, but teeth support our facial structures. Missing posterior teeth make us appear older as muscle and skin sag without the support of our teeth. A patient with full dentures has less than 10% of the functionality of a person with a full complement of teeth. And we have all seen how old a person looks when they are not wearing their dentures that support their facial structures.
What exactly are implants? Think of natural teeth as having two parts; above the gum line is the crown and below the gum line is the root. Implants are root replacements. Science has taught us there is a strong affinity of bone to titanium implants. Implants or synthetic “roots” can be placed and porcelain or gold crowns can be placed on them. Once placed, implants are one of the most predictable and longest lasting treatments your dentist can provide for you! There is no enamel to decay or nerve that dies, requiring a root canal. A well cared for implant could last a lifetime. Nothing else done in dentistry carries this “guarantee”.
The implant process is quite simple. Although this writer does not have any implants, patients generally say it was easier, quicker, and less painful than having the original tooth removed! After careful planning, an implant or implants can be placed in either the maxilla or mandible in the desired position to serve as the “root” for a ceramic crown, crowns, or denture. Generally, a waiting period of 90 days takes place for bone to mature and osseointegrate with the implant before the final restoration is attached to it. During this time, an existing denture can be worn, a temporary crown fabricated, or perhaps no restoration placed at all if it is in a hidden posterior section of the mouth.
Oral health is a major component of good general health. Implants will allow you to chew and speak without the embarrassment that missing teeth can cause. Implants have become one of the best choices in dentistry to replace not only a single or a few teeth, but replace or support dentures. An implant supported denture is like being given a second chance.
Talk to your dentist today!
Dr. Paul Callahan, DDS provides implant dentistry in Sterling, VA