Dental Implants In-Depth

Computer generated model of dental implant from Blue Summit Dental Group
When you suffer tooth loss, your whole life is affected. Even the loss of a single tooth can have a major impact. If you lose teeth, it is essential that you have them replaced as soon as possible. Today, you have several options available, from traditional bridges and dentures to a more modern treatment with dental implants. We offer dental implants at Blue Summit Dental Group, providing you with a permanent solution to your tooth loss that can give you back your life.

How Do You Lose Teeth in the First Place?

Tooth loss has many causes. One of the most common causes is advanced gum disease. When plaque and oral bacteria are left to build up on the surfaces of your teeth, they can irritate your gums. This leads to inflammation, and the tissue begins to pull away from the teeth. This pulling away results in pockets, which can then easily trap oral bacteria and other debris. The bacteria continue attacking your gums. They also begin to attack your periodontal ligaments, the supporting structures of your teeth, and your jawbone. This weakens these structures and causes your teeth to become loose. Eventually, they can fall out.

There are several other causes of tooth loss as well, including:
•  Facial trauma. If you do not lose your teeth as a direct result of facial trauma, tooth damage may be so severe that the teeth need to be extracted.
•  Severe tooth decay. Severely decayed teeth may also require extraction.
•  Bruxism. This is grinding and clenching your teeth, which can loosen your teeth and cause them to eventually fall out.

What Happens When You Lose Teeth?

No matter how you lose your teeth, the effects are always the same. The most obvious effect of tooth loss is the effect that the event has on your smile. Your once beautiful smile deteriorates, lessening the impact that it can have on those around you. This deterioration of your smile can also impact your confidence, causing you to hide your mouth, or even refuse to smile at all.

Aesthetic effects are just the beginning. Tooth loss affects the functions of your mouth. Biting and chewing become more difficult. The more teeth you lose, the harder these functions become. It may even become impossible to eat many of your favorite foods. Also, the inability to chew properly can disrupt the digestive process, ultimately leading to malnutrition.

Tooth loss can impact your speech. Teeth control airflow when you talk, making it possible to say a wide variety of words and sounds. When you lose teeth, the air is allowed to flow freely, leading to a lisp or other difficulties with speech. This can cause issues with communication.

Under the gums, tooth loss impacts the health of your jawbone. The teeth stimulate the bone, which triggers the body to send essential nutrients to keep it strong and healthy. Even the loss of just one tooth leads to a reduction in stimulation. As a result, fewer nutrients are sent, and your jaw begins to weaken and change shape. This can then cause your healthy teeth to shift out of their natural alignment, leading to other complications.

Modern Treatment With Dental Implants

Dental implants are a modern alternative to the traditional treatments of dentures and bridges. They consist of three major parts, the posts, the abutments and the crowns.
•  Posts. The actual implants themselves are titanium posts, which we surgically implant into your jawbone. Your bone fuses to the posts, in a process known as osseointegration, which integrates them into your jaw. They stabilize there, becoming strong roots that provide support for your crowns.
•  Abutments. The abutments are small connectors that are placed at the ends of the posts above the gumline. They provide stability for the crowns.
•  Crowns. The crowns are what replace the visible sections of your missing teeth. Typically made from ceramic, they restore basic functions as well as aesthetics. Ceramic is a popular material due to its ability to mimic the color of enamel as well as the way in which it reflects light. Ceramic is also fairly strong, and can stand up to most everyday use.

Types of Dental Implants

Implants are versatile and can be used for different tooth replacement needs. To meet these needs, there are several different types of dental implants.
•  Single tooth. A single post supports a single tooth. It is possible to have more than one single tooth implant if you are missing individual teeth in different areas of your mouth.
•  Multiple tooth. A multiple tooth implant is also frequently referred to as an implant supported bridge, and replaces several teeth in an area of the mouth. One or more posts support two or more crowns.
•  Implant supported denture. An implant supported denture replaces an entire arch of teeth. Your crowns are supported by 6 to 8 implants.
•  All-on-4®
•  Treatment Concept. This treatment is used to replace an entire arch of teeth but is used when you do not have enough bone mass in your jaw to support 6 to 8 posts. Instead, your arch of crowns is supported by only four implants. Two implants are placed vertically at the front of the jaw, while the other two are placed at 45-degree angles at the back of the jaw.

The Origins of Dental Implants

Dental implants are commonly thought to be a modern invention. While the implants we use today are the result of modern discovery, dental implants have roots that go back centuries. The earliest implants date back to around 600 AD. Bits of seashell and bone were found in the mandible of a young woman. Another interesting part of this discovery was that her natural bone had begun to fuse to the implant, showing that it was placed while she was still alive.

This was not the only instance of ancient dental implants. Egyptian mummies have been found with gold wire implanted in their jaws. Middle Eastern skeletons have been found with ivory for teeth. There was even an instance of a Roman soldier that was found with an iron tooth. Modern dental implants are the result of significant research and development that stemmed from the accidental discovery of osseointegration. In the 1950s, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon, Per-Ingvar Bråenmark, was researching how bone heals and regenerates. As a part of his research, he placed a titanium cylinder in the femur of a rabbit. Later, he went to remove it. When he did, he found that the bone had begun fusing to the titanium. He took this discovery and began his research and development. In 1965, he successfully implanted the first dental implants.

Research and development continued after his successful implantation and, in fact, it continues to this day. This research is being done to improve the reliability and stability of implants. Today, implants are available with different circumferences. This allows them to be more widely available to more patients with differing needs. Implants are also rough in texture when they were originally smooth. The texture of the implants helps to improve osseointegration, increasing their success. There is also research being conducted to find an alternative material to titanium. The most promising material so far is zirconia, known as the ceramic implant.

Dental Implant Procedure

To get dental implants, you need to undergo a surgical procedure. This procedure is done under both a local anesthetic as well as sedation. Surgery begins with incisions in the gums at the sites where your implants will be placed. Next, holes are drilled into the bone, and the implants are placed inside. We then suture your gums closed around the posts, leaving just a small amount exposed above the gumline. Finally, before you are sent home to begin your recovery, we place temporary teeth on the implants so that you regain the basic functions of your mouth while you heal.

Recovery from dental implant surgery can take anywhere from several weeks to several months. The exact time that it takes you to recover fully will vary based on several factors, including how many implants have been placed. As you heal, your bone begins to fuse to the posts, gradually integrating them into your jaw. You will be provided with specific aftercare instructions to follow while you heal, which will help you to deal with common postsurgical issues and aid in a smooth recovery.

Once you have fully recovered and the implants have fully integrated, we then begin the process of placing your permanent crowns. This process takes two visits. During the first visit, we remove the temporary teeth and place the abutments. Next, we take impressions of your mouth. These impressions are sent to our dental lab, where the crowns are designed and created. It can take up to two weeks for the teeth to be finished. When they are ready and returned, you return for your second, and final visit, during which we secure your crowns in place with small screws.

Do Dental Implants Require Special Care?

Dental implants do not require any special care. However, it is important that you continue to brush and floss them as you would your natural teeth. Regular dental cleanings and exams are still essential as well, even if all of your teeth have been replaced. Even though ceramic crowns do not decay, they are still able to collect a buildup of plaque and bacteria, both of which can irritate your gums and cause gum disease. If gum disease does occur, and periodontal pockets are allowed to form, the bacteria that falls below the gumline can weaken your jawbone around the implants. The implants are then able to become weak and unstable, and can ultimately fail. Proper oral care is essential for keeping your mouth healthy and maintaining the integrity of your dental implants.

What Benefits Do Dental Implants Offer?

Dental implants provide several benefits, including:
•  They look completely natural. The ceramic crowns look exactly like your natural teeth. Ceramic even imitates many of the natural properties of enamel, including its color and the way in which it reflects like.
•  They feel and function just like natural teeth. Unlike dentures, you do not need to worry about getting used to a foreign object in your mouth. They also function just like your actual teeth, restoring your abilities to eat and speak.
•  They are more comfortable than dentures. Dentures sit on your gums, which puts excessive pressure on tissue that was not designed to support teeth. Dentures can also rub your gums, causing sores. With dental implants, your teeth are supported by the posts, and there is no pressure placed on your gums.
•  They are permanent. The posts are integrated into your jaw as you heal from surgery, essentially becoming a part of your mouth. The crowns are also permanently affixed to the posts and are only ever removed if professional maintenance is necessary.
•  They preserve your jawbone. The implant posts function like the roots of your natural teeth and stimulate your jawbone. This restores the messaging to your body, which then sends the necessary nutrients to keep the bone healthy. The bone loss that typically follows tooth loss is stopped and prevented.

Are Dental Implants Right for Me?

Dental implants can be used in a variety of different situations, but they are not the ideal solution for everyone. Before undergoing surgery, a comprehensive exam is needed to determine whether or not you are a candidate. Some of the factors that can determine this include:
•  You have lost teeth. Implants are designed to replace missing teeth, whether you have lost one or many. Implants may also be considered if you are about to undergo a tooth extraction.
•  Your age. You are never too old for implants. So long as you meet other requirements, you can be well into your senior years and still be a good candidate. You can, however, be too young. Implants are not a good solution for children or teens.
•  Your health. Because you will be undergoing surgery, you need to be in good overall health. Any oral or other health issues, such as gum disease or infections, need to be treated first. Chronic health conditions need to be well-managed.
•  Your lifestyle habits. Smoking, and using other tobacco products, can affect your ability to heal. If you smoke, you will need to quit. If you cannot quit for good, you will need to be willing to quit at least through your recovery.
•  Your jawbone health. Your jawbone needs to be in good shape. If implants are placed in a jaw that is too weak, they may not fuse properly. This can lead to loose implants or even complete implant failure. If your jaw is too weak, you may first need to undergo a bone graft.

With dental implants, not only do you get back the functions of your missing teeth, you get a completely natural, beautiful smile that also works to protect the integrity of your jawbone. Call Blue Summit Dental Group today to schedule your consultation, and to find out if dental implants are right for you at (810) 214-3889.
Dental services we offer to our Davison community

Ralph J. Becker, D.D.S., P.C.
7007 Davison Rd
Davison, MI 48423-2005

(810) 214-3889
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