Dental implants are a wonderful way to replace missing teeth and make dentures more stable and comfortable. They are more common and reliable now than ever before. Implant supported crowns feel like natural teeth because they have a similar shape and emerge from the gums in the same manner as teeth. Implant supported dentures are dependable because they are anchored to the bone. Dental implants can improve your smile and confidence.
A dental implant is a surgical grade threaded titanium cylinder that is placed in the jawbone. This is accomplished by delicately making a space in the bone, placing the implant, then covering it for a period of months to heal. The jawbone will heal to and attach to the implant surface to form a rigid connection. Once the bone and implant are integrated, the implant can now support a restoration. Either a crown or denture can be attached to the implant at this time. A crown or bridge is connected to the implant with an in-between part called an abutment. Partial or full dentures are connected with a ball and socket type connector called a Locator Attachment. The Locator Attachments allow you to remove the denture for cleaning and sleeping. There is also a type of implant denture called a Hybrid Denture. This type of full or partial denture stays in place full time and can only be removed by your dentist.
You would consider a dental implant when you are missing one or more teeth. The condition of the bone in the jaw and the position of the opposing teeth are just two factors in determining the ability to place an implant in a given area. A single missing tooth can be replaced with a single dental implant. When several teeth in a row have been lost, a bridge can be supported by 2 or more implants. The number of implants under a bridge would be determined by the length of the space, the amount and quality of the bone and the cosmetic requirements of the area. If a large amount of bone or gum tissue is missing a partial hybrid restoration can beautifully repair an area that has had trauma or teeth missing for a long time. Full denture patients struggle with dentures that will not stay in place when speaking and eating. Fabricating a denture to snap onto attachments can change the quality of life for new and longtime denture wearers.
There are many causes of bone loss in the jaws. Periodontal disease can cause the loss of both teeth and irreversible loss of bone over time. Trauma from car or sports accidents can cause damage to all oral structures. Surgical trauma from cancer and infection can cause teeth to be extracted and areas of jawbone to be lost. Longterm denture use, especially ill-fitting dentures, put force on the top of the jawbone. The resulting force on the bone causes it to resorb away even faster. Even under dental bridges the bone will shrink leaving gaps. This can lead to food debris getting caught under the bridge, irritating the gums and causing gum disease if not properly cleaned daily. When a tooth is lost the bone starts to deteriorate because the roots of the tooth are not there to hold the bone, similar to the way roots of a tree protect the earth from erosion. As the bone continues to melt away, there is less height and width of bone for an implant to fit within. The resulting shape of the jaw can be challenging to restore to comfortable function.
The bone can often be augmented to recreate the amount and quality of jawbone to accommodate implants. The best way to ensure retaining as much bone as possible after extracting a tooth is to do a bone graft in the socket at the time of extraction. This is usually accomplished with donor bone from a tissue bank. Donor bone is a very safe and convenient way to stabilize your jawbone and have the best possible outcome for your implant. If there is already damage to the bone or there is extensive loss from trauma or infection, there are other options available to you. I will be happy to discuss your specific situation and the reliable procedures that our dental partners can provide. Please make an appointment to talk with me about these options if you have been told in the past that implants may not be an option for you.
Advances in implant dentistry are changing the lives of people around the world. The sharing of technology is benefiting you right here in the Columbus area. We use exclusively Straumann and BioHorizons implants for our patients. These are two of the top four brands worldwide and we are proud to provide this quality to our patients. Using top brands give you the comfort of knowing that the latest innovations are built into your implant. It also insures that should you move to another city; your future dentist will likely be familiar with and have the tools to work on your implants. Be sure to record and keep the information about your implants for this purpose. Of course, we will always be available to provide that information to you should you relocate.
Implants provide the most natural feel in replacing lost teeth. Even though there is not a ligament holding the implant to the bone and there is no nerve in the implant as a tooth would have, the shape and emergence of the implant from your gums is as natural as possible. This means that your tongue is generally very comfortable with the shape of an implant. The bite on an implant crown or denture can often replicate your natural bite because it is positioned very closely to the position of your original teeth. An implant denture is exponentially more stable than a traditional denture. In effect, denture patients have fewer worries of dentures slipping out of position while speaking or eating. There is less pain under implant supported dentures and the bone keeps its healthy shape because of the positioning and anchoring properties of the implants.
Implant dentistry is changing lives for the better every day. These exciting advances can change your life, too. Call us today at 614-476-8999 for more information on your ability to have a healthier more comfortable eating, speaking, smiling experience.
Maria Van Huffel, DDS