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Dental Implants

By Expert Author: Ron Barbanell

Dental implants are used to support restorations designed to look like natural teeth. Nearly all implants used in dental procedures today are created to look like the root of an actual tooth. Implants, usually made of titanium, are placed within the bone of the jaw. The implant eventually fuses with the bone. Implants are generally used to support crowns, bridges, dentures and a variety of other dental prostheses. Implants are sometimes used to anchor teeth and prevent movement of the teeth. The ultimate result is healthy teeth and plenty of reasons to smile.

Restore Your Smile and Confidence

When you have dental issues of any kind, it can be a serious blow to your confidence. You may not feel comfortable speaking, smiling or eating. This may cause you to avoid certain foods and social situations. Implants can replace one ore more teeth to restore the function of your teeth and improve your confidence. Implants are a natural-looking solution designed to restore your smile and self confidence.

Missing Teeth Cause Problems

As an adult, you typically have from 28 to 32 teeth. All your teeth perform an important function. When teeth are missing, you are susceptible to certain dental problems. Sometimes teeth are lost due to decay or injury. Sometimes teeth do not come in properly. In rare cases, some teeth may not develop at all. Regardless of the reason, implants are an alternative to other dental restoration techniques to replace missing teeth.

Dental Implants Can Help

Implants can be beneficial if you are missing one or more teeth for any reason from injury to disease. Implants are also helpful if you find it difficult to wear removable dentures. When determining if you are a candidate for implants, a dentist will carefully evaluate your dental and mental history. Implants come in many different shapes and sizes and can tailored for your specific dental needs. Implants can replace missing teeth or become a viable alternative to wearing dentures or partial plates. Most importantly, implants help restore your natural smile along with your confidence.

Start With a Consultation

Your first step is a consultation. Your dentist will discuss all available implant options for your particular situation. This is where you can ask questions and voice any concerns you may have. You can ask to see before and after photos from previous patients to get an idea of what results you can expect. Your dentist will walk you through the procedure step by step and explain all that is involved in the process. It is important that you feel completely comfortable with the procedure before moving forward.

Your Dental Exam

A dentist will perform a routine dental examination to determine if you are a candidate for implants. An exam provides important details about the overall structure of your mouth. This includes how your teeth and jaws fit together and the condition of your gum structure and related areas. During a dental examination, the following is likely to take place:

The height and width of your jawbones are measured to ensure that there is enough bone structure to support an implant.
A full examination of your gums to check for signs of gum disease and to verify if there is enough tissue to support the implant. If periodontal disease is detected, if must be treated before implants can be considered.

Your Dental History

Another important factor when preparing for implants is your dental history. The more your dental teams knows about you, the most successful your surgery will be. This includes a brief overview of your general health and any dental treatments or procedures you may have had previously, such as crowns, root canals or bridges. This includes a discussion of what you hope to accomplish, what your ultimate goals are, and why you are considering implants.

Ongoing Medical Conditions

In addition to any previous dental work, it is important to inform your dentist of any current medical conditions. For example, if you are diabetic, blood tests may be required to make sure your condition is under control before beginning any dental procedures. You need to let your dental team know about any medications you are currently taking, even aspirin or cough syrup.

Imaging Tests are important

Digital and traditional imaging tests are a part of your dental evaluation. Imaging tests help your dental surgeon determine the overall quality of the bone structure in your mouth. Imaging tests may include x-rays to view your teeth and jawbone structure, a CT scan or x-ray tomography, panoramic x-rays to provide a wider view of your teeth, nerves, sinuses, and jawbone. This helps to pinpoint any bone issues.

Your Treatment Plan

Following a full evaluation, your dentist and those directly involved with the procedure discusses your treatment options with you. This includes a detailed description of the dental procedures that are best for your situation. This includes any other dental work you may need before implants can be considered. Remember that existing dental issues must be corrected first. Once it is decided that implants are the way to go, the next step is to decide which type of prosthesis is best for you. Your options include:

Removable Prosthesis - A connecting device is used to join your new teeth to the implants. The prosthesis may be removed for routine cleaning.

Fixed Prosthesis - New teeth are fitted to a frame secured to the implant. This option may allow for better chewing capabilities.

Working Together

Keep in mind that throughout the process you will be working closely with your dentist and oral care team. This includes individuals preparing your jaw for the implants and those building and adjusting the prosthesis. Your dentist may be an oral surgeon. If this is the case, they may performing the surgery. If not, your dentist can still help you with the initial steps required to prepare your teeth for the procedure. The whole process is a group effort.

Understanding Your Role

You need to be committed to the entire process. This includes preparation, additional dental procedures and recovery time. The total time for implants from the steps necessary prior to the procedure through recovery time may include several months or a full year or more. Therefore, it is important for you to:

Keep all dental appointments
Inform your dental team of any problems
Follow all dental care instructions before, during and after the procedure
Have regular dental checkups

If You Need a Graft

Graft surgery may be required to restore bone and gum tissue where it is lacking. Additionally, a graft can replace tissue lost due to trauma or disease. Bones for a graft may come from your hip or jaw or an artificial graft may be created for the procedure. The main goal is to add height to the jawbone so it can support the implant and increase gum tissue for more support and better oral health.

If You Have Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease weakens gum tissue. This may result in the loss of natural teeth and implants. Periodontal disease needs to addressed before implants can be considered. This may include a professional cleaning, medications or surgery in extreme cases. It is important to practice good dental and oral hygiene to prevent the return of periodontal disease to help your implants last longer.

Outlining Your Treatment Plan

This is the time where you can discuss costs and the amount of time involved with the procedure and the required follow-up care. It is important to be actively involved in your treatment plan. It may take several months before your prosthetic teeth are ready to be attached to implants. If additional dental care is needed for conditions such as periodontal disease, the process may be more involved and take longer to complete.

Risks and Complications

While implant surgery is relatively safe, possible complications may include infection, bleeding, injury to surrounding nerves and muscles, implant failure if your jawbone does not properly fuse to the implant and injury to adjacent teeth or other structures of the mouth area.

Alternatives to Dental Implants

If implants are not right for your particular situation, there are alternatives to consider. For example, a bridge may be used to replace a single missing tooth. If you wear dentures, simply adjusting them so they fit better may help. Remember, you can always choose to have dental implants later.

Ron Barbanell began performing dental implants in 1979 after a year-long program offered at the University of Southern California. I have successfully placed thousands of implants since then. http://adhp.com/dental-implants

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