Dental implants are all the buzz these days, but what are dental implants and how might you one day benefit from a dental implant?
Dental implants are specialized titanium root-formed screws and are placed within the jawbone. Dental Implants are made of titanium alloy, and for a reason; the bone of the jaw grows right up to and onto the titanium post and osseointegrates with it. Osseointegration refers to the fusion of bone with the titanium surface of the post.
There is a lot of science that goes into the surface finish of the implant so that the bone will grow onto it and give it the desired stability. Because of this property, knee, hip, shoulder and teeth replacements are all performed using titanium. Once placed, the dental implant can be used in several ways. Dental implants can support restorations that resemble a natural tooth, groups of missing teeth or to retain upper and lower dentures.
There are some major advantages with dental implants over other treatments. First, the longevity of implants are better than many other dental treatments. Some studies show that dental implants have a success rate of over 90 percent after 20 years. That is impressive. If a patient has good oral hygiene and visits the dentist regularly, they could last a lifetime. Similarly, since they are made of metal — they cannot decay like natural teeth. In addition, because of their strength they can withstand significant chewing forces in the mouth. When used to replace a single missing tooth they allow for better oral hygiene and do not require reducing adjacent teeth as a tooth-supported bridge does. Lastly, when used to retain dentures they can increase comfort, make eating easier, improve appearance, and improve speech.
Who can get dental implants? In most cases, anyone who is healthy or who could undergo a tooth extraction and who is committed to good oral hygiene can be considered for a dental implant. Patients who do not have adequate bone for an implant may need to undergo an additional bone augmentation procedure. Heavy smokers, patients who have received head and neck radiation therapy and those suffering from uncontrolled chronic disorders such as diabetes and heart disease may need to be evaluated by their dentist on an individual basis.
How painful are dental implants? In most cases, dental implants can be placed with local anesthesia. Most patients say that there is very little discomfort involved in the procedure and report that it causes less pain than a tooth extraction.
What are the negatives of dental implants? Unlike natural teeth, dental implants lack the periodontal ligament, so they will feel slightly different while chewing. Additionally, dental implants are expensive and currently only a minority of dental plans cover them; however, dental coverage will most likely increase in the coming years as more and more dental plans offer reimbursement for this advantageous and long lasting product.
Dentistry has come a long ways over the years, and dental implants are one of the wonderful technology advances that have been made to help restore the mouth to its natural and beautiful state of appearance and function. Talk to your dentist if you think this might be something you could benefit from.
Shape Up, Emporia! Is a weekly health column aimed at readers of all ages. Each week will feature columns by health professionals in the community who will share some friendly tips on how to improve your overall health. Our goal is to make a healthier lifestyle fun and easy to fit into your daily routine.