The concept of dental implants is not something new or a procedure recently discovered. There are in fact numerous mummified remains from ancient Mayan cultures clearly showing sea shells implanted into their jawbone to replace missing teeth. This method of replacing missing teeth as known today was first introduced in the late nineteen-fifties and has since then been greatly perfected.
Losing any teeth through trauma, age or bad oral hygiene can leave a person’s face looking drawn and older due to gaps in their tooth line. These gaps are also unsightly and can make one self-conscious and reluctant to smile.
Fortunately there are solutions to this dilemma that are permanent. It is not only from an aesthetic point of view that it is essential to fill these gaps but also to ensure that as one ages there will be no skeletal structure instability.
At a first consultation the dentist does a thorough examination to determine various factors such as bone density and height, oral health and overall general health. The procedure has a very high success rate of around ninety-eight percent and it is only diabetics, smokers, people with osteoporosis or those undergoing chemotherapy that are considered at risk. For the best results good oral care, healthy gums and sufficient bone height are essential.
There are a number of reasons why people may choose to have implants instead of old fashioned dentures or bridges. Implants are secure and will not move when one is talking or eating and also help to slow jawbone shrinkage that occurs with age. They stand alone and are therefore tooth saving and are not attached to any healthy teeth as with bridges.
Titanium is the preferred metal for roots and holding posts as it bonds well with living bone and is only on very rare occasions rejected by the body. One implant can support one or more teeth and for a full set of teeth five or six implants are sufficient. Root placement is plotted using computer software that determines the exact position of underlying structures such as sinuses and nerves for minimum disruption.
The procedure is normally carried out under local anaesthesia. An incision is made in the gum tissue and a small hole drilled into the bone. An artificial root is inserted and the area closed up. A period of time between three to six months is required for the bone and root to meld before its holding post is screwed into its root. Posts are enhanced with zirconium that gives a ceramic crown a luminosity that matches natural teeth in a person’s mouth. An impression for the crown is made and when ready is cemented onto its post.
There is a quicker process whereby the root is implanted with a small piece protruding from the jawbone. A post and crown are fitted on the same day when the artificial root is implanted. These various options and methods for dental implants, the patient’s needs and budget will all determine which route would best serve the patient.