Karr and Blazer Dental
Elgin, IL 60120
What are dental implants and are they a good choice for me?
Bryan R Blazer
Karr and Blazer Dental
Your Dentists in Elgin, IL and the Fox Valley
Dental implants are just one of many tooth replacement options available to a patient that may be missing one tooth, many teeth, or all of their teeth. We will be addressing each of these situations throughout this article and, hopefully, will be able to answer any questions you may have about the best dental implant solution for your situation. Of course, it is always advisable to speak to your dentist about your options as every case is unique.
Dental implants are tooth root replacement, screw-like fixtures, usually made of titanium, that are surgically placed into the jaw bone and teeth are then placed on top of these fixtures. They are meant to mimic the roots of natural teeth, but do have some key differences. The primary difference between a tooth root and a dental implant is the amount of mobility. Tooth roots are surrounded by ligaments that suspend the tooth with the jaw bone. This allows teeth to be slightly compressed during times of excessive chewing function. Dental implants are completely integrated into the jaw bone, similar to a drywall screw into a stud, and are not meant to sustain excessive compression forces. A common similarity between dental implants and natural teeth is their role in maintaining the quantity of surround jaw bone. A primary purpose of the jaw bone is to support teeth. Without a tooth present, the body will naturally resorb and shrink the bone tissue effectively leading to bone defects. Dental implants help to maintain a healthy quantity and quality of jaw bone.
A very common finding in a general dental population is partial edentulism (i.e. the absence of one to many teeth, but not completely toothless). Of these, the most common tends to be a single missing molar, usually as a result of a prior root canal that did not succeed and was not able to be saved. This is not to say that a single tooth cannot be missing in any area of the mouth, however. When determine whether or not a single tooth implant is the best single tooth replacement option depends on a multitude of factors. The first consideration is the quantity and the quality of the bone. As mentioned above, a primary function of tooth roots and their supporting ligaments is to maintain the jaw bone. Once a tooth is removed, the surround bone will begin to resorb and shrink. Can this process be stopped? No, but it can be halted with a bone preservation procedure at the time of tooth extraction (a discussion for a different blog post!). The amount of bone present in a missing tooth area is a critical factor in determining whether or not an implant can be placed surgically. If a significant amount of bone has resorbed, an implant may not be readily possible. In some cases, an additional surgical procedure may be needed to increase the amount of bone. However, this procedure can be quite costly and has lower success rates than if a dental implant had been placed earlier. Essentially, the best dental implants and most affordable dental implants are ones that are placed into the jaw bone as soon as a tooth is missing from the mouth.
Another factor to consider, beyond bone availability, is space availability for teeth. This may arguably be the most important factor because regardless of the amount of bone present, if the space between adjacent or opposing teeth is inadequate, a tooth supported by a dental implant may not be a viable option. What would lead to a limited amount of tooth space availability; Similar to a reduction in bone volume from a long-term missing tooth, another dilemma occurs with tooth space availability. Over time, as teeth are lost, the surrounding and opposing teeth will attempt to shift and move in an effort to find other teeth to touch. Teeth are always in a constant state of movement and eruption unless they are met by other teeth. While this can be accounted for in minor instances, if a major space discrepancy exists, a dental implant supported tooth may not be possible or may require extensive orthodontic and restorative work just to create the space to place an ideally positioned tooth. As previously mentioned with bone loss, the best dental implant and most affordable implant is typically placed as soon as a tooth is missing from the mouth.
Dental implants replace just more than single teeth. They can even be used to replace an entire jaw of missing teeth. Implants can be placed into the jaw and used to support dentures to make the more supportive. These typos of dentures, typically referred as implant overdentures, utilize implants with special clips or bars that anchor the denture into place. It can still be removed by the patient and cleaned in a conventional fashion. Theses type of implant dentures are more commonly seen in the lower jaw as the conventional lower dentures tend to have greater issues with mobility and bone loss. These can be great, life changing options for those who are displeased with the amount of movement of their dentures. Another option of replacing full arches of missing teeth are with implant supported prosthesis known as “hybrid” or “profile” dentures. These procedures can also sometimes be referred to as “teeth in a day.” The primary difference between these types of implant dentures and the overdentures is that the hybrid/profile dentures are not able to be removed by the patient. They are permanently fixed and anchored into dental implants and only your dentist can remove them. This type of dental implant prosthesis can also be very life changing for a patient by giving them back the function and esthetics that have been lost due to dental disease.
The conclusions to be drawn here are that dental implants are a remarkable way to replace missing teeth. Healthcare is best served with many options available to patients and implants provide such an option that has quickly become the standard of care for replacement teeth. A quality dental implant placed by a properly trained surgeon can have success rates greater than 95%. It is advisable to speak with a properly trained implant dentist to review all of your options.
Please contact Karr and Blazer Dental for you free consultation by calling us at 1-847-742-6717 or complete and online request form!