Best Dental Implants
Dental implants are modern dentistry's best option for replacing missing teeth. They offer a highly successful, long-lasting, and totally natural-looking substitute that actually becomes part of the jawbone and helps maintain its health. The reason is that the titanium of which dental implants are made has the unique ability to fuse or “osseo-inegrate” with living bone. This osteophilic (“osseo” – bone; “philic” – loving) property was discovered accidentally by a Swedish orthopedic surgeon in 1952. Much research and testing of potential medical uses followed, until the first dental implants became available for clinical use in the 1970s. Many improvements have been made since. There are now more than 40 different types of dental implants, and millions of people worldwide have a better quality of life because of them.
What is a Dental Implant?
In order to understand exactly what an implant is, you first have to picture a natural tooth, which essentially has two main parts: 1. the crown, which is the part you see in the mouth above the gum line, and 2. the root, which is inside the bone. A dental or endosseous implant (“endo” – inside; “osseous” – bone) replaces just the root part of the missing tooth. The implant is then topped by a realistic-looking dental crown.
Can you describe the Dental Implant Procedure?
Dental implant surgery is usually carried out under local anesthesia (numbing the area where the implant is to be placed) and is a relatively comfortable procedure. Some minor vibration is generally experienced during preparation of the implant (bone) site, but it is quite tolerable. Since there are no open wounds following implant surgery and it is minimally invasive, there is little post-operative discomfort.
A single implant usually needs to be left for a period of two to four months to fuse to the bone before a crown can be attached. The healing time depends upon the bone density at the site of the lost tooth; the more dense the bone, the quicker the integration. Following successful integration, your dentist will make a crown to fit on the implant that will look and function exactly like a normal tooth.
In some implant procedures, the implant is inserted into the bone, covered with the gum tissue, and left to integrate or fuse to the bone. In this two-stage procedure, the implant is uncovered (stage two) and a small connector called an “abutment” is attached to the implant allowing the gum tissue to heal around it. Immediately or after a short healing period, a crown can be attached to the abutment. In a one-stage system, the implant is left exposed at surgery, slightly protruding through the gum tissue. Both of these systems have their merits and indications.
Am I a candidate for Dental Implants?
That's not something you can determine for yourself. You'll need to have a complete exam so that your dentist can see how much bone volume and density you have in the area of the missing tooth, since a certain amount of bone is needed to support an implant. But even if your bone is deficient, simple bone regeneration techniques that have been used successfully for years can usually improve the health of your tooth-supporting bone enough to make you a candidate for implants.
What are the Success Rates of Dental Implants?
Dental implants traditionally have a very high success rate. Documented research and clinical studies indicate success rates of over 95% — the highest of any tooth-replacement option. Even in areas of low bone density, success is quite common. Once integrated and functional, implant restorations can last a lifetime.