If for whatever reason you’ve lost a tooth — a whole tooth, from the crown all the way down to the root — then your dentist will probably recommend dental implants to replace it. The implant itself is a titanium rod that serves as a replacement root for a false crown. It’s inserted into the jawbone, the bone heals around it, and voila! It looks and functions like a real tooth. Sounds simple, right?
The truth is, there are a few hurdles to dental implant surgery that need to be address before you get your new teeth. Here is a breakdown of the most common issues.
Suitable Implant Sites. The longer a bone socket stays empty, the weaker the surrounding bone becomes. So the longer your tooth or teeth have been missing, the less suitable the site for implantation may be. Age can also be a factor, as our bones simply get weaker as we get older, and smoking can have a similar effect. For these situations, surgeons can place bone grafts around the area to strengthen the site and ensure secure implantation.
Standard Size of Mini? Dental implants come in two general sizes — standard and mini. Mini implants are also called denture-retention implants, since they were initially developed to secure entire dental plates. However, some surgeons have had success using the mini implants in place of the standard implants. They require less surrounding bone and fewer weeks of healing time. But the research is inconclusive as to their long-term success. And it can be difficult to place larger teeth (like molars) on a single mini implant.
Gum Disease. The health of your gums is crucial to the success of dental implants, since your gums are what protect the roots of your teeth. If you lost your original teeth due to gum disease, your dentist will want to make sure the disease is addressed and dealt with before proceeding with the implant surgery. Once again, smoking can hinder the implantation process, since it’s been shown to cause gums to recede.
Other common concerns for patients include time spent healing, time spent in surgery, and post-operative discomfort. Computer guided dental implants have done much to alleviate all of these concerns. The precision of placement means less extraneous drilling in the bone socket, and less drilling means a faster and more manageable healing process. But it may not be right for everyone. Only your dentist can tell you the procedure that best suits your condition. Ask about it today, and see if you don’t have something to smile about soon. Learn more.