When a partial or denture isn’t ideal, dental implants are a smart way to replace missing teeth. Implants also offer great support and provide stability for these appliances. Simply put, a dental implant is an artificial tooth and root system most often made of titanium that is installed into the jaw by a dentist professional. These natural-looking devices restore the smile and also restore normal function for talking and eating.
While re-tightening and replacement may be needed over time, dental implants are durable devices that usually last many years. Choose dental implants when the desire is to:
- replace a missing tooth without damaging nearby teeth as a bridge does
- fix bite or joint problems caused by shifting teeth
- improve the smile
- make chewing, speech and digestion easy again
- restore the look of the face
- support a denture or bridge.
Dental implants begin with an impression to determine spacing as well as bone and tissue availability. After everything has been determined, the area is numbed and the implant is inserted into the bone so it can heal into place. Healing can take six months.
After a few weeks, the artificial tooth or teeth are made to fit the post. More than one fitting may be necessary, and this process can take two months. Once complete, the artificial tooth or teeth are permanently attached, providing a stable and comfortable tooth for the patient.
Dental Implants Are A Great Choice, and Keep Getting Better
Only two or three decades ago, dental implants were something new. They were fringe options that the dental establishment had serious qualms about. But a lot has changed in less than a generation. The quality, size and desirability of implants has improved dramatically, and the success rate couldn’t be much higher.
Once, dentists who included implants among the choices they offered to their patients were frowned up and looked down up, according to experienced and compassionate San Diego dentist Dr. Paige Woods. Implants were strange and unusual when he first started offering them, and they were certainly well beyond what mainstream dentists considered acceptable.
And truthfully, implants were an idea that deserved to be questioned in the early days. The very invasive implant procedure required the use of large supportive blades placed inside the jaw even when only a single tooth was being replaced.
Now, implants are in favor with just about all dental professionals -- although not all have the same commitment to biocompatibility and to lessening invasiveness when possible. Success rates reach 99 percent when once a 50-50 chance was the best a dentist could offer to an implant patient. If a patient has lost a tooth or knows he or she will, an implant can restore function and provide a great cosmetic solution too.
Dental Implants As Part Of Biological Dentistry
In the best case scenario, it’s a good idea to avoid invasive treatments like root canals and dental implants. These are among the issues that cause the most concern for biological dentists because there isn’t a perfect solution. The thing that must be taken into consideration most is infection. When the root of a tooth is infected, removing the tooth or performing a root canal is a sensible decision because the infection itself is a greater harm to the body that the possibility of a root canal or implant that isn’t completely biocompatible.
In some cases, a bridge is a sensible alternative to both procedures. In many cases, the overall health of the patient is the first thing to look at when deciding between an implant, a root canal and a bridge. But adjacent teeth must also be taken into consideration. When adjacent teeth are already compromised, the overall health and function of the mouth may be improved by the use of a bridge. If teeth on each side of a tooth to be removed are healthy, however, an implant is a smart alternative that preserves the other two healthy teeth.
Implant Use Considerations
Are there specific considerations that must be taken into consideration before considering a dental implant? Are only certain patients good candidates for implants? Surprisingly, the only real consideration is the amount of healthy bone at the implant site. For 95 percent of people, there’s plenty of bone tissue and this isn’t an issue.
Several years ago, implants were much larger -- up to 20 millimeters in many cases. This huge breed of implants required much more healthy bone to be present for full integration. In the last decade or so, however, implants have become much smaller.
The smaller size of modern implants means that installing them is less invasive, yet they can be accomplished without any compromise in the quality of the placement. In fact, research has shown that the small implants used today integrate better with the bone that surrounds them than those used in the past that were larger and longer.
Standard implants today range from 10 to 15 millimeters. While that’s still a large and invasive device, it’s a significant improvement over devices that were used in the past. Still, more improvement is possible and on the market today.
Mini Dental Implants
Mini dental implants are the choice Dr. Woods prefers. Take note, however, that these aren’t the thin mini-implants designed for mounting dentures. Instead, they’re Bicon implants designed as single-tooth replacements. These short, well-made and carefully designed implants may not be as long as previous generations of implants, but they’re created with plenty of available surface area so they integrate with the bone of the jaw as completely as possible.
Short implants like these are about 6 millimeters long, and that means they are considerably less invasive than the longer implant choices that are still available and in use by many dentists today. And because the integration involves less bone than with longer implants, the recuperation time is significantly less. Even better, the cost is quite a lot less as well.
Large, long implants can get very expensive, especially if conditions aren’t perfect to start with. Expensive bone grafting can be required, and it can even be necessary to reposition nerves and lift the sinuses to fit everything in. That’s all costly and invasive and opens the door for a wide array of potential complications.
In addition, the short 6-millimeter implants are more versatile than longer ones, fitting into a wider array of spaces without modifications. While there have been some doubts raised in some corners of the dental industry over whether mini-implants are durable enough to last for the long term since they are relatively new, the research is proving that they’re efficient, effective and indicating that they will be more successful than longer implants once they’ve been around long enough to prove themselves.
Biocompatible Material For Dental Implants
For a biological dentist or a patient interested in taking a holistic, body-sensitive approach, the most important thing to consider is what material the implants are made of. Most on the market today are constructed of titanium, the metal considered to be the most biocompatible of all. They are made in two pieces that can be carefully installed separately to fit the exact space available.
In Europe, zirconia implants are commonplace, and those are also a biocompatible choice. But the aren’t a perfect choice. Zirconia implants are only available as one-piece units that are long and therefore invasive. Also, placement must be precise or else the dentist must reshape the visible and functional portion, and this can cause micro fractures that eventually lead to failure.
Considering the possibility of compromising the implant and surrounding teeth and the longer, more invasive design, zirconia implants do not seem to provide the best possible outcome. If there’s plenty of bone and a clear line of insertion, however, they can be an acceptable choice for those concerned with biocompatibility.
Which Dental Implants Are Right For You?
In almost every case, Dr. Woods chooses biocompatible Bicon implants, a less invasive and proven reliable choice. He says he would choose this type of implant for himself or a family member if an implant were necessary.
Patients looking online about implants will likely be confronted with a wide array of choices and conflicting opinions. As they explore thoroughly, however, they will notice the fewest problems and the strongest anecdotal evidence relates to Bicon implants and other small titanium implants.
To find out if you are a good candidate for dental implants, call for a Free consultation with Dr. Paige Woods, DDS
: (619) 640-5100.