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When teeth are missing, the bone that previously supported those teeth melts away, or deteriorates. This process is called bone resorption. The impact of deteriorating bone from complete tooth loss includes collapsed facial profiles, lost lip support, increased wrinkles around the mouth and the appearance of a pointed nose and chin that are too close together.

However, the bone can be preserved by replacing missing tooth roots with dental implants. Since the bone actually forms a strong bond to the implants, they can serve the same functions as natural tooth roots: a strong foundation for biting and chewing, and stimulation for the bone to hold it in place.

 

Before Dental Implant After Dental Implant
 

Some of the Benefits of Dental Implants:

  • Overall quality of life is enhanced with replacement teeth that look, feel and function like natural teeth.
     
  • Preserves integrity of facial structures.
     
  • Better health due to improved nutrition and proper digestion.
     
  • Adjacent teeth are not compromised to replace missing teeth.
     
  • Convenience of hygiene.
     
  • Elimination of denture adhesives.
     
  • The mouth is restored as closely as possible to its natural state.
     
  • Increased stability and a sense of security that teeth will not fall out when eating, laughing or sneezing..
     
  • Improved appearance.
     
  • Restored self-esteem and renewed self-confidence.
     
  • Improved ability to taste foods.

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What dental implants can do for you?

Replacing Single Missing Teeth

When a single tooth is missing, the two most common treatment options are the traditional tooth supported bridge and an implant supported crown. When a traditional bridge is used to replace a missing tooth, the adjacent teeth are cut down to pegs in order to fit the cemented bridge in place.

This method of tooth replacement can be very esthetic and functional for a period of time. However, a tooth supported bridge does not replace the bone that previously surrounded the root. Since there is no longer a root to hold the bone in place, the bone deteriorates, or melts away.

 

There are many advantages to replacing a single missing tooth with an implant supported crown

  • It looks, feels and functions like a natural tooth.
  • It is much more esthetic long term.
  • It does not decay.
  • There is no need to grind down the adjacent natural teeth.
  • The bone is preserved, preventing a visible bony defect.
  • It is more hygienic (easier to clean) than a tooth supported bridge.

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Replacing Multiple Missing Teeth

When more than one tooth is missing, there are three common treatment options: the traditional tooth supported bridge, a removable partial denture and an implant supported bridge. In this situation the benefits of implant supported teeth are even more obvious.

A removable prosthesis, such as a partial denture, actually accelerates the bone resorption process, resulting in more rapid bone deterioration. In addition, the clasps which hold the partial denture in place put extreme pressure on the natural teeth they hook onto, loosening them and in many cases, eventually leading to the loss of those teeth. Most patients with partial dentures state that they are uncomfortable and that they rarely wear them.

 

Some of the many advantages of implant supported replacement teeth include the following:

  • They are more comfortable and stable than traditional dentures.
  • They virtually stop the bone resorption process (deterioration).
  • Integrity of the facial structures is maintained.
  • Appearance is improved.
  • It is not necessary to cover the roof of the mouth, so food can be tasted.
  • Relines and repairs are infrequent compared to traditional dentures.
  • Natural biting and chewing capacity is restored.

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General FAQ's on Dental Implants:


Question: who is qualified to place dental implants?

Answer: Dental specialists who have completed advanced university training are the most qualified to place dental implants.  Your surgeon needs to have intimate knowledge of the implant procedure and must have a gentle technique.  As with most other medical procedures you need to make sure that your surgeon places dental implants frequently and with a high degree of success.

Question: Am I a Candidate for Dental Implant Treatment?

Answer: Nearly everyone who is missing one or more teeth and in general good health is a candidate for dental implant treatment. There are a few medical conditions that can undermine the success of implant treatment, such as uncontrolled diabetes. However, there are very few conditions that would keep someone from having implant treatment altogether.

Question: If Dental Implants Preserve Bone, Why would a dentist recommend a tooth supported bridge?

Answer: Since dental implants preserve bone, if a patient qualifies as a candidate, implant treatment is usually the treatment of choice. However, until the late 1980's, traditional tooth supported bridges were considered the best treatment option for replacing missing teeth.

In addition, there have been many improvements in dental implant systems over the past decade, giving more options for dentists to provide for their patients.  Some of the enhancements have resulted in better esthetics for replacement of anterior teeth.  Prior to the development of these improvements, some dentists felt that their patients were better served with traditional bridges.

Question: Are there situations where you would recommend extracting a tooth and replacing it with an implant supported crown?

Answer:  There are many situations where natural teeth are either failing, or are about to fail.  This includes severe periodontal disease (gum disease) that has eroded the bone that supports teeth.  Sometimes in these cases, it is preferable to extract the teeth; eliminate the disease and infection and replace the teeth with implant supported crowns/bridges.

There are also situations where a tooth has had a root canal (nerves have been removed from the tooth) leaving the tooth brittle and susceptible to fracture.  In cases where the tooth needs to be retreated and the prognosis is not favorable, it is preferable to extract the tooth and replace it with an implant supported crown. 

Teeth with severe fractures are usually extracted and are ideal candidates for replacement with dental implant treatment.


Question: Are there different types of Implants?

Answer:  Although there are different types of implants, the root-form implants are the type most commonly used today.  This is primarily due to the extremely high success rates of this type of implant and the fact that they can actually preserve bone, function as replacement, or substitute tooth roots.

There are also different manufacturers of dental implants.  At our practice we only used FDA approved implants from extremely reputable companies that use state of the art implants.  These implants have a proven track record and extremely high success rates. 

Question: what is involved with taking care of dental implants?

Answer:  The home care recommended varies depending upon the type of implant supported replacement teeth.  For example, a single implant supported crown is cleaned like a natural tooth, with regular brushing and flossing.  Implant supported bridges that replace a few teeth are cleaned like tooth supported bridges.

Question: Will My New Teeth Look Natural?

Answer: Your new teeth will be as close as possible to your natural teeth. They will actually look, feel and function like your own teeth.

Question: How Long Do Implants Last?

Answer: Documented clinical research demonstrates that implant supported replacement teeth have been successful for over 30 years. These were some of the first root-form implant cases ever completed and they have been closely monitored from the beginning. It is highly likely that these cases will be successful throughout the lifetime of those patients.

Dental implants are designed to be permanent: however many factors contribute to the long-term success of implant treatment, such as home care and regular maintenance visits to the dentist or dental specialist.

By comparison, research demonstrates that the typical tooth supported bridge lasts from 7-10 years and that partials and dentures are functional for an average of only 5 years. Insurance statistics indicate that bridges, partials and dentures last 5 years and they generally pay for necessary replacements every 5 years.
 

Question: Is the Surgical Procedure Painful?

Answer: Most implant patients report that the discomfort is far less than they expected, and is much like having a tooth extracted. And although everyone is different with regard to pain tolerance, most patients are very comfortable simply taking Bruffen afterward.

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