Why consider dental implants?
A major advantage of a crown supported by a dental implant versus a crown on a natural tooth, is resistance to recurrent decay under the crown. This is very helpful to people with altered saliva due to medications which causes high cavity rates. Many people believe that standard brushing and flossing are not as important because the titanium dental implants can’t decay like natural teeth. This is wrong! The bone and gum tissue around an implant can become infected and cause implant failure. The major advantage of natural tooth root versus dental implant is the periodontal ligament (PDL) that holds the tooth root into the bone. This PDL has nerves that provide pressure sensation and can also compress to act as a mini-shock absorber during chewing. You do not need a dental implant to replace each tooth you may lose. In fact, if they are spread out correctly, you may only need four or five implants to support an entire dental arch.
Dental implant treatment options
Dental implants create many treatment options. Dental implants can stabilize a removable prosthesis (i.e. “a partial” - removable partial denture, removable complete denture) or fix a prosthesis in place (fixed crown or fixed bridge). There are advantages and disadvantages to both fixed and removable prosthesis, but fixed prosthesis tends to be more expensive due to more office visits, more extensive use of dental materials, and additional dental laboratory processing fees. A removable implant supported denture can be converted to a fixed prosthesis with the addition of additional dental implants. This conversion can occur years later. Titanium dental implants have been in common use since the 1970’s and more than 50 years of research has demonstrated decades long success for properly cared for implants. If your surgeon is experienced, the success of dental implants is between 95 and 97%. A dental implant that is successful, was placed in healthy bone, surrounded by sufficient healthy gum tissue, with a crown that has a proper streamline emergence profile and proper occlusal contacts, and a patient dedicated to proper maintenance.
What implants are made from
Dental implants are made from titanium and do not set off airport alarms and are compatible with MRI scans. Titanium is the ninth most abundant element in the earths crust. It is physiologically inert (doesn’t react with the body’s immune system), has a very low corrosion rate, can be as strong as steel but is half the weight. Most importantly, the bone cells are attracted to the titanium surface bond bone directly to the titanium surface. Implants may look like screws, but the threads are not responsible for long term stability. This is why implants do not work themselves lose over time like a wood screw might. Bone requires stimulation for healthy maintenance. The jawbone will atrophy and shrinks over time when teeth are missing. Dental implants bond with the bone and this allows them to stimulate the surround bone and to prevent bone loss. While initial fees for a dental implant restorations may be higher than more traditional tooth restorations, studies have demonstrated properly placed and maintained dental implant restorations (on average) start becoming the more cost effective option after approximately 2 ½ years.