Dental Implants Faqs
A Short History of Dental Implants
People have been trying to come up with a good way to replace missing teeth since the beginning of time. Thankfully, we live in an era where tooth loss is not the problem it once was. Improved products for caring for our teeth, better understanding of oral health, and regular dental checkups bring us to a time when approximately 70% of adults can expect to enter their later years with all or most of their teeth intact.
Dentures, of course, have long been the standard for those who do manage to lose teeth through accident or disease. In fact, before his midnight ride to alert us that the British were coming, Paul Revere was known for his skills in denture making. He worked very hard to make an improved and more comfortable denture for those who no longer had their own teeth. Obviously, dentures have improved immensely since Paul’s day, but almost any denture wearer will tell you it still isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t preferable to the real thing.
The more permanent method of dental implants has come far, as well… and dental implants, according to those who have them, are as close to the real thing as you can get.
A Timeline of Dental Implant Dentistry
Ancient history – Egyptians shaped seashells and hammered them directly into the gums for the purpose of replacing teeth. Ivory and the bones of animals were also sometimes used to replace missing teeth.
1700s – Lost teeth were often replaced with teeth from human donors. The process was mostly unsuccessful due to immune system reactions to the foreign material.
1800s – Gold, platinum and other metal alloys were used experimentally and placed into sockets where teeth had been freshly extracted in an attempt to create suitable replacements. Long-term success rates were extremely poor.
1952 – A doctor in Sweden accidentally discovered that titanium can bond irreversibly with living bone tissue. (Titanium is the same material that has been successfully used in knee and hip replacements for more than 30 years.)
1965 – The Birth of Modern Implants! The process of purposely implanting titanium in bone for the purpose of rooting prosthetic teeth began.
1981 – The Swedish doctor who made the titanium discovery published a paper covering all the data he had amassed regarding titanium implants.
1982 – The Toronto Conference on Osseointegration in Clinical Dentistry created the first guidelines for what would be considered successful implant dentistry.
2002 – An ADA survey showed that oral and oral and maxillofacial surgeons, periodontists, and general dentists near doubled the number of implants performed per dentist between 1995 and 2002.
Today – You can be among the many patients that will benefit from implant dentistry in the coming year and beyond.
A preferred method of tooth replacement.
Since the 1980s, dental implants have been catching on as the preferred method of tooth replacement. It is estimated that more than 800,000 patients have benefited from dental implant techniques since 1965. Since titanium is not treated as a foreign object by the body, the integration of titanium screws in jaw bone has become standard dental treatment. The benefit, of course, is that by securing a prosthesis tooth to a metal rod that is firmly imbedded in—or in fact is part of—the jaw bone, you are creating a solid replacement that looks, feels and acts just like the real thing.
Consider the implications.
With dentures, for instance, a patient can expect to have approximately 20% of the chewing force he or she had with real teeth in place. The dental implant, however, provides up to 95% of the chewing force of real teeth.
Dental implants require the same care and treatment as natural teeth. A patient need not remove the false teeth to clean them. No more messing with expensive polishers and bleaching agents to obtain those pearly whites.
As well, with implants you aren’t faced with the continual struggle to keep your replacement teeth in place. No adhesives necessary, your new tooth is there just the same as the old one… only expected to last for your lifetime!
You may be wondering why you would consider a surgical option for replacing lost teeth when a denture or bridge can be completed without anesthesia and in less time
The answer, quite simply, is that the surgical option of placing dental implants means not only will your smile look as good as ever; it will feel, in the end, just like your natural smile. Dental implants are a lasting and superior method of dealing with tooth loss.
Consider the following:
- Dental implants are anchored in the bone of your jaw. They do not wiggle, slip, or require removing to be cleaned.
- Dental implants look just like the real thing. You can"t tell an implant from a real tooth by its color. Nobody has to know you have a false tooth.
- Dental implants feel just like the real thing. The tongue and muscles of your cheeks do not have to be "trained" to hold a dental implant in place.
- Dental implants are cared for just like your normal teeth. You brush after every meal, floss daily and continue to see your dentist for regular checkups. That"s it! No special pastes or messy adhesives.
- Once a dental implant is in place, you can expect it to be there for your lifetime. When properly cared for (as you care for your real teeth) an implant rarely needs replaced.
What does a typical denture or bridge wearer go through?
- Dentures are anchored by adhesive strips or gel substances. You cannot entirely eliminate the fact that they wiggle and slip, often at the most inopportune times.
- Though techniques have improved vastly over the years, there remains an unquestionably different look to dentures. Often the color is not quite right or the gums look pale and unnatural. As well, people can often hear the "click" of a denture wearer as they attempt to eat or talk or the actual speech patterns of the wearer change as they attempt to adjust to the placement of the denture plate in their mouth.
- Even the best of dentures will never feel natural. Your real teeth simply don"t move or take up as much space. Your tongue and cheek muscles don"t have to coordinate to hold your teeth in place while you are trying to speak. Not to mention the sore spots dentures often rub on gums while the mouth is adjusting to the fit.
- Dentures require removal for cleaning and special bleaching and powders on a regular basis. Many people opt to sleep without their dentures and soak their dentures overnight for cleaning.
- Most denture wearers can expect to go through months of fittings and adjustments to come up with an initial set of dentures that are comfortable to wear. As the mouth changes over time, and bone loss rates increase, the entire process may have to be repeated several times in a wearer"s lifetime.
Patients who have opted for dental implants are overwhelmingly pleased with the decision.
Many people who were not considered eligible for implants even a decade or two ago are now deciding to give up dentures in favor of implants. Improvements in the techniques and materials involved make implant success likely for a variety of conditions and situations. And though the initial cost of implants might be a bit more than dentures (or bridges in the case of just a few missing teeth) the permanent nature of the implant quickly makes up for that. Implants should be considered a long-term or even lifetime solution for tooth replacement while bridges and dentures are generally expected to be replaced once per decade, at the very least, for most wearers.
Implants, as well, likely only cause discomfort (which is generally mild if at all) in the surgical stage of the initial setting of the implants. Most patients report just slight discomfort in the day or two following surgery. Dentures, on the other hand, often involve on-going discomfort as the wearer struggles with slippage and sores rubbed on the gums and cheeks, as well as food particles lodging beneath the denture plates and general embarrassment at having to adjust them in public settings.
Dental implants are as close to the real thing as you can get
If you need teeth replaced, or will be in a position to have them replaced soon, talk with your dentist about dental implants.
Your smile will be glad you did.
Do you dread ending up with a mouth full of dentures like your mother had?
Have you changed the way you smile to hide the gaps? Or do you simply keep your mouth closed because your teeth cause you so much pain?
You'll be relieved to hear that dentistry has come a long way in recent years. Space age technology has perhaps provided as many benefits for your smile as it has for bringing us news from outer space. And the best news of all?
Modern tooth replacement methods can be performed at your dentist's office.
Long gone are the days when only those who could afford expensive specialists get the pretty smiles. Dental implants, for instance, are one of the many advancements that have gone far beyond the scope of surgeons and cosmetic specialty clinics.
What can your dentist do for you today?
Unlike the dentist of your mother"s day, today"s dentist can offer alternatives to the standard set of dentures or bridge constructions. Missing teeth, whether one or all of them, can be replaced in a more permanent manner that is natural both in look and feel. Instead of the hassles of removing, polishing, bleaching, adhering, and re-adhering dentures or removable bridges; you can look forward to a mouthful of teeth that behave and feel just like the real thing.
The procedures are standard and safe
Dental implants are generally a three stage process that can be done from the chair of your very own dentist. Stage one involves implanting screws of surgical grade steel into the bone of the jaw. As the bone heals, it grows around and incorporates these screws. A temporary cap or crown is then set upon the screw to allow the gum line time to form a natural looking space for the replacement tooth. Finally, a permanent restorative tooth is placed upon the screw. This tooth will match the color of your own teeth, providing no clue that it is false to those who see you smile. As well, this tooth will act and feel just like your own teeth. You will care for it in the same manner and most patients should expect to have the implant tooth for a lifetime.
The entire procedure typically takes about six months, more or less depending on your overall oral health and dental history. Potential complications to dental implants can be assessed ahead of time and often avoided through time and preparation. The average dentist office has a 90-97% success rate with implants. Because the standards of dental implants are well practiced and understood, your dentist should be able to advise you regarding the specifics of your situation.
Let's talk money; what"s it going to cost?
Initially, it might seem to you that an implant will cost more than dentures or bridges. Those cost differences are minimal these days as there are many options for materials as well as professionals to choose from to complete the procedure. Your dentist should be able to work within the guidelines of your insurance company policies to achieve the maximum benefit possible.
When you consider the long-term cost of dental implants vs. the long-term costs of the old-time standard denture or bridge, the implant procedure quickly pulls ahead. Not only will you benefit from the superior quality of implants as replacements, you will likely avoid additional dental work and continued fittings that are a common part of wearing dentures or bridges. You must remember, when making the initial investment, that dentures require on-going work. The typical denture needs adjustments after only 2-3 years of wear and needs replaced after 5-10 years. A dental implant is intended to last a lifetime with only standard checkups and cleaning just like your natural teeth require.
Modern dentistry opts for long-term replacement of missing teeth
Be it a single tooth lost from disease or accident, or a mouthful of teeth, modern dentistry methods suggest that permanent replacement solutions, like dental implants, are the solution of choice. Patients who have experienced both old and new dentistry replacements are overwhelmingly satisfied with their dental implants and thankful for the opportunity to return to natural, reliable smiles.
Perhaps you've looked into dental implants as an alternative to dentures or bridges to replace missing teeth
You understand the numerous benefits, but when the dentist mentioned that you might need a bone graft, you started having second thoughts. Additional surgery for the sake of implants makes it sound like a much more complicated ordeal. It is, however, a very common procedure.
Why would you need a bone graft prior to implants?
Dental implants are basically screws that are inserted into the jaw. As the bone heals and incorporates those screws, you have a good, solid foundation for securing a restorative tooth that will look and feel natural. In order to set that implant, however, the dentist must have an adequate structure of existing bone. In some people, the bone is simply too narrow and/or shallow to provide a stable foundation for implants. As well, in some cases the original bone might have been suitable for an implant, but disease or decay, probably starting with infection from the teeth that were lost or removed, has weakened the bone so that it is unable to support an implant.
The good news is that problems or insufficiencies in the underlying bone structure do not automatically eliminate you as a candidate for dental implants. With modern bone grafting techniques, you can still benefit from the superior qualities of dental implants over dentures or removable bridges.
There are several options for building up enough bone to support implants
A bone graft is a way of building up your existing bone so that it can provide a suitable base for implants. The bone in your jaw can be stimulated to grow either through natural or synthetic means. Your dentist will be able to help you determine the best method of bone grafting for your specific case. Some alternatives might be one or a combination of the following:
- Collecting bone from your own mouth as the implant site is prepared and reusing that bone for grafting purposes. This is the simplest method of bone grafting and can be done from the dental chair.
- Synthetic materials are sometimes used to simulate bone growth or your own blood factors can be used to help promote growth or accelerate the process.
- In cases where the top jaw above the back teeth has insufficient bone for holding implants, the sinuses are lifted and bone is inserted into the sinus chambers to grow enough structure to secure dental implants.
- Occasionally, it may be determined that the best course of treatment is to take bone from another part of the body (the hip is common) and use it to build the necessary bone in the mouth for dental implants. In this case, the dentist will work alongside a surgeon in a hospital setting. This option may be the lengthiest in terms of surgical time, but the success rates are high.
The goal in each of these cases is to help the patient grow new and healthy bone tissue that will support the dental implant procedure.
How much time does a bone graft add to the overall time it takes to complete implants?
In general, you can expect dental implants to take six months to complete. The standard process involves setting the screws and giving them time to incorporate into the bone, placing a temporary crown to allow the gums to create or hold a natural space for the replacement tooth, and finally, the setting of the restorative replacement. If you are one of those patients who need a bone graft for a successful implant to take place, you are obviously adding another step to the process. The time this will extend your overall treatment will vary depending on the method used, the extent of the bone grafting needed, and the overall state of your oral health and health in general.
What you need to remember is that time invested now in a quality and generally permanent replacement method for missing teeth, is likely time you will not have to spend later having dentures refit and adjusted or replacing bridges which only have a life expectancy of 7-10 years on average.
As well, by building and repairing bone for the replacement of missing teeth, you are likely creating a better environment for any remaining teeth to thrive in. Replacing bottom teeth through bone grafts and dental implants, for instance, may save the top aligning teeth and give you many more years of using them pain free.
Talk with your dentist about bone graft alternatives to make you a suitable candidate for dental implants.
Why is it that we are thrilled to lose our teeth as children, but that thrill turns to angst when we lose teeth as adults?
Children, of course, eagerly watch for that new tooth to grow in and replace the old one. Adults are not so fortunate.
Perhaps you have lost a tooth recently due to an accident or periodontal disease or you"ve been dealing with that gap in your smile since you ran into that car with your bicycle as a kid (both you and your mother cried over the fact that it wasn"t a baby tooth). Maybe you"ve considered a bridge to replace that missing tooth. A dental implant is likely an even better option.
It's just a gap. Why bother fixing it?
Dr. Maria Lopez Howell of the American Dental Association's "ADA Dental Minute" (www.ada.org) says, "Your teeth work together to help you chew, speak and smile. When you lack teeth, it's sometimes not as easy to do these things."
As well as improving your appearance, replacing one or two missing teeth could substantially improve your overall oral health. Problems caused by a single missing tooth might include:
- Growing misalignment through the drift of remaining teeth
- Improper bite causing problems with chewing and jaw alignment
- Bone and tissue loss at the site of the missing tooth
- Infection of the gums or jaw bone if the tooth has been broken and not entirely removed
- The desire to cover your mouth or avoid smiling to hide your misaligned and unsightly teeth
- Speech impediments as the tongue uses the teeth when speaking to form words clearly
Dental implants have multiple advantages over a bridge.
Traditionally, a single missing tooth would be replaced with a bridge. In some cases, a permanent bridge is glued to the adjacent teeth while others can be removed for cleaning. In many cases, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth are affected by bridge placement. Glue to secure the bridge may have adverse affects on the health of the remaining teeth, causing actual damage to the enamel where the glue is adhered. As well, in some cases the remaining healthy teeth have to be cut down or otherwise altered in order to affix the bridge.
Dental implants are an improved technique for replacing missing teeth. In the case of a single missing tooth, or even multiple teeth, the implant can be inserted with no adverse effect to surrounding teeth. Once completed, the implant looks and feels like your natural tooth. You care for the implant in the same way you care for your regular teeth.
As an added bonus, implants generally last a lifetime while a typical bridge is expected to last only 7-10 years. Even when more than one tooth is missing, dental implants are a safe and better alternative to dental bridges.
Do dental implants require surgery? How long is the procedure?
A single tooth implant is done under local anesthetic and can generally be done in a regular appointment at your dentist"s office. The implant will be completed in two to three steps. After the first step, implantation of the titanium screw (the new root structure for your prosthetic tooth) the bone is given time to heal and grow around the implant. The complete process of implantation can take up to six months, depending on your overall state of health.
Can I get an implant from my regular dentist?
Today, many dentists are providing dental implants rather than the traditional bridge to fill a gap made by a missing tooth. You should be able to find a dentist in your area who is well-versed in dental implant procedures and able to help you determine the best options for your oral health.
Okay, now let's talk about cost
Dental implants might appear to be more expensive than bridges initially. When you consider that a bridge will have to be replaced, that cost difference is quickly diminished. Health insurance plans vary widely, but most will cover at least a portion of the cost of dental implants. Your dental office should be able to work with you to secure maximum benefits from your insurance company. As well, most have payment plans available for extensive dental work, including dental implants.
It is estimated that 22% of Americans will have lost all of their teeth by the age of 65
Maybe you are among those who have resigned themselves to dentures. For years, dentures were the only option. Whether you have lost teeth to gum disease, decay or accident, there is now an alternative to dentures that you should consider. You may replace your teeth with dental implants. As well, implants give you the option of affixing your dentures in a permanent manner.
Why should you consider implants over the customary mouth full of dentures?
- Dental implants look and feel like your natural teeth.
- Implants don"t slip and slide out of place.
- There is no need to remove your teeth for cleaning. You care for implants in the same manner you would care for your natural teeth.
- You can avoid the discomfort of typical dentures. There is no fear of getting something lodged beneath a denture plate, no painful mouth sores where the dentures rub, and no soreness from the muscles of your cheeks and tongue having to adjust to keep your dentures in place.
- Implants won"t change your speech patterns as they will not move in your mouth as you speak.
- With implants, you will feel free to smile with confidence.
What type of specialist do I have to see for implants?
At one point oral and maxillofacial surgeons performed the majority of implants. As techniques have been perfected, however, more and more dentists are able to perform the implants right in the dental office. The good news for you is that the cost of implants is growing more reasonable. There is a dentist near you who is providing implant services for patients right now.
With the increase in patient demand for dental implants, there are plenty of options in materials, as well. A dentist will be able to evaluate your needs and determine the best type of implant for your situation.
Is the procedure more involved for implants than for dentures?
The process of getting implants might be slightly more involved for implants than for dentures. It does involve surgery. For most patients, however, that surgery can be done under local anesthetic right from the chair in your dentist"s office. Many denture wearers also find themselves having to undergo surgery prior to being able to wear dentures. Tooth extractions and bone grafting might be necessary in either case, depending on the current state of your oral health.
The number one advantage to implants is that they are a near-permanent solution to tooth loss. Most patients can expect to have their implants for life. Continued gum and bone deterioration often make it necessary to replace dentures in subsequent years and the comfort level for denture wearers is never as high as for those who have implants. According to Dr. Jeffrey Hoos, a dentist from Stratford, CT, "My patients tell me it is just like having teeth again."
If you do have remaining healthy teeth, implants give you the option of leaving those teeth and only replacing those that are missing. The gum and bone will not wear away with implants the way it continues to do with dentures. This is why dentures are a continual source of frustration for many wearers. The perfect fit, if you get close at all, is not likely to last more than a couple of years as the underlying structure of bone continues to degenerate when teeth are removed.
Sounds good, but it is affordable?
Those who have received dental implants agree that the initial cost for implants, which is higher than for dentures, is well worth it. Aside from the comfort and confidence you will receive from having teeth that look and feel naturally yours, you will not have the continued expense of messy adhesives and cleaning products that come with dentures. As well, most dentures have to be replaced one or more times because of changes in gums and bone density. Many wearers have to go through several pair just to get a good initial fit. Of course, we"ve all heard the stories of dentures being lost or inadvertently thrown out, a worry you won"t have with dental implants. Find an experienced dentist who specializes in dental implants and you can avoid the excessive fees you might otherwise pay.
In short, dentures will continue to cost you, in more ways than one, for years to come. Implants are expected to last a lifetime.
Two Methods of Securing Dental Implants
Are you a candidate for dental implants? You may be wondering if you are missing teeth from disease or accident or perhaps you are a denture wearer who is looking for an alternative.
In fact, there are multiple methods and materials for placing implants that make them a viable alternative for nearly every situation. The benefits of implants, in fact, outweigh traditional methods of replacing lost teeth so much that dentures and bridges are quickly becoming a method of the past.
What are the benefits of dental implants?
• An implant is a prosthetic tooth that is anchored in your jaw so that there will be no slippage, no sliding, and no loose teeth to deal with.
• Dental implants are cared for just like your normal teeth—through brushing, flossing, rinsing and regular dental exams.
• Implants are considered, for most patients, a long-term solution to tooth replacement. This is a huge advantage over the 5-10 year life expectancy for a denture or bridge.
• Dental implants give you the power of bite nearly equivalent to your natural teeth. It is estimated that an implant can chew with about 95% of the force that natural teeth can, while dentures can chew with only about 20% of the force of natural teeth.
Dental implants have been performed for decades, but the techniques are so well refined now that success rates for implant wearers are as high as 90-97%. Knowledge of the types of metals that are compatible with our bodies has made successful implant incorporation a sure thing. Because we now have a way to anchor prosthetic teeth into the jaw, we have the ability to create replacements that are so near to the real thing that patients of all ages are able to leave their tooth troubles behind.
The endosteal implant, or implant that is set in the jaw.
This implant, typically a screw made of surgical grade titanium, is placed directly into the bone to act as the root of a replacement tooth. It can be inserted through a simple surgical procedure in your dentist’s office and, for most patients, it takes about three months for the jawbone to heal and incorporate the screw. A temporary crown is placed on the screw at the time of implant, or in some cases as a second step in the process. Once the bone has healed and the gum line grows to create a natural looking space for the replacement tooth, a permanent restorative tooth is placed. This tooth can be expected to last a lifetime for most patients. It looks and feels like the natural teeth and care for a restorative tooth is the same as for your natural teeth, as well. A period of about six months is required for the entire procedure to be completed.
This process is good for replacing everything from a single missing tooth to an entire mouthful of teeth. For multiple teeth, however, the subperiosteal implant may be preferred.
The subperiosteal implant, or framework that sits beneath the gums and over the bone.
In this case, the surgical procedure involves drawing back the gums and placing a thin metal framework securely on the bone structure. The gums are then stitched back into place and given time to heal. The framework, which sits securely against the bone and becomes incorporated in time, will be used as the root structure for a series of teeth. This is similar to dentures or a bridge except that the teeth are permanently placed and securely rooted in your mouth.
This type of implant might also be used when the original bone has atrophied or the jaw structure is not suitable to hold screws inserted into the bone.
How do I know if implants will work for me?
Make an appointment with a dentist who is well-versed in dental implants to discuss the specifics of your needs. Through a general checkup, dental x-rays, and possibly a CT scan, a dentist should be able to give you a good idea of the type of implant most suitable for you. Ask your dentist about the implant techniques they are most familiar with and consider talking with more than one dentist if you don’t find options that match your needs.
The overall comfort level of having teeth that look and feel like your natural teeth, makes dental implants a worthy investment.
Single Tooth Replacement with Dental Implants
Whether you’re missing a tooth from accident, injury, decay, or other reasons, dental implants are the standard of care for tooth replacement in dentistry today. A dental implant is a small, titanium post that serves as an artificial tooth root. Dr. Fitzgerald is a qualified implant dentist who places and restores dental implants at his Plano/North Dallas implant center.
Benefits of Dental Implants for Single Tooth Replacement
In the past, the only option for single tooth replacement was adental bridge. Conventional dental bridges require reduction of the teeth on each side of the missing tooth. This means that natural teeth have to be compromised in order to sustain a full smile. With dental implants, your natural teeth remain fully intact, allowing you to keep a full set for longer.
Once a tooth is gone, the jawbone that supported that tooth is no longer needed. As a result, the jawbone begins to deteriorate, which changes the entire facial profile. Patients with jawbone deterioration have a “shrunken” profile. A dental implant will function like a tooth root, stimulating healthy bone regeneration. Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that won’t eventually result in bone loss.
Another benefit of single tooth dental implants is that with proper care and maintenance they last most people a lifetime. Traditional dental bridges will only last 7 to 10 years before they need to be replaced.
Conventional dental bridge – Tooth reduction for crowns is required.
Dental implant – No tooth reduction required.