Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?
When replacing missing teeth, you need to consider more factors than restoring the ability to chew. It is imperative to consider all functions of natural teeth while considering the most appropriate alternative.
Natural teeth have four primary functions: biological, aesthetic, psychological, and physiological. While dentures restore physiological function by facilitating chewing, the option does not perform well in the other functions. Aesthetically, these artificial teeth do not look and feel like natural teeth. Biologically, dentures do not halt the resorption of the jawbone which commences after tooth extraction. Psychologically, dentures can interfere with one’s speech resulting in a decline in self-confidence and self-esteem.
Fortunately, dental implants restore all these functions almost to the degree of natural teeth. However, placing these implants requires oral surgeries, and not every person is an ideal candidate for a surgical operation. Visit Cooley Smiles for a consultation on whether you are a suitable candidate for dental implants.
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots made of biocompatible materials like titanium and zirconium. The prostheses are surgically and gently placed into the jawbone. Dental implants replace missing teeth roots and not missing teeth. These man-made roots are designed to fuse with the jawbone and provide a solid foundation for artificial teeth. After healing from the incisions, abutments are placed on top of the implants. Dental crowns are then placed on top of the abutments, completing the restoration of an entire tooth.
Stability and permanence are some of the most pronounced benefits of dental implants. Unlike dentures that utilize adhesives and suction to remain steady, dental implants are literally placed into the jawbone. The fusion that happens between the implants and the jawbone results in these prostheses being firmly in place with zero chances of slipping or falling out.
The slips or dislodgement common with dentures and dental bridges can cause difficulties with speech, chewing, and laughing. These interferences can have negative effects on one’s desire to attend social events, engage in conversations, and eat certain foods.
Another benefit of dental implants is that they feel and look like natural teeth. The fusion of the prostheses with the jawbone helps with restoring the feeling of natural teeth. With the appearance, every artificial tooth is customized before placement. Today’s technological advancements have made it possible to design and make artificial teeth that resemble the patient’s remaining teeth in color, shape, and appearance.
From a biological standpoint, dental implants counter the loss of the jawbone which is a natural reaction to tooth loss. After tooth extraction, that specific spot of the jawbone stops receiving stimulation that used to trickle down from the actions of the natural tooth. Consequently, the body stops supplying replenishment to that area. This change triggers the process of bone resorption: the process through which the bone breaks itself down with the intention of recycling constituent minerals into the cycle of bone growth. Proper chewing and biting preserve the jawbone through stimulation. With dentures, the stimulation is absent as they rely on the gums for support.
The process of placing dental implants begins with consultations and evaluations. Before embarking on the procedure, our team takes time to understand why the patient is considering the procedure.
At times, patients can have unrealistic expectations that dental implant procedures cannot attain. For example, dental implants are not face-lifting procedures. The evaluation examines the patient’s medical history, existing conditions, and lifestyle to determine the suitability and level of care needed. People living with controlled diabetes mellitus, renal disease, and HIV have compromised defense systems meaning they need more care. Similarly, patients with bleeding disorders require detailed intervention to ensure bleeding during surgeries does not turn into life-threatening emergencies. Our team also assesses the patient’s parafunctional habits and pregnancy at this phase.
The next stage involves the placement of the implants after tooth extraction of the natural teeth root if still present. Our team of prosthodontists conducts the procedure of placing the implants into the jawbone. To ensure that the patient remains comfortable, local anesthesia or sedation is used. The patient then receives instructions on how to care for the wound to reduce the chances of oral infections and enhance the fusion with the jawbone. The process of the implants integrating with the jawbone is referred to as osseointegration.
After successful osseointegration, the third and final phase begins. This stage entails the placement of the abutments and the crown. The abutment is the connector between the implant and the artificial tooth. The team opens the gum lying over the implant and places the abutment. The crown is then placed on the abutment to complete the procedure.
What Factors Constitute An Ideal Candidate for Dental Implants?
The first indicator of qualifying for a dental implant is having a missing tooth. Age is the next most important factor to consider. The dental implant procedure is not recommended for people whose jawbones are still growing. Incisions and placement of dental implants into the jawbone can have adverse effects on future growth. The procedure can negatively and irreversibly affect the positioning of the other teeth if the jawbone is still growing.
Another factor to consider is bone density. Successful fusion between the jawbone and the prostheses requires a lot of bone in terms of width and height. Our team of professionals uses 3-D imaging technologies to ensure there is enough bone. If deemed inadequate, the team recommends bone grafting before placement.
Healthy gums and the absence of autoimmune disorders or untreated chronic diseases also contribute to one’s suitability for dental implants. People with uncontrolled or untreated autoimmune diseases such as diabetes and renal disease experience difficulties with healing.
The length of time it takes a wound in the mouth to heal determines susceptibility to gum infections such as gingivitis. Any oral infection after placement can significantly affect the success rates of dental implants. The presence of severe and uncontrolled periodontal disease can also serve as a contraindication for dental implants. Additionally, heavy smokers do not fall into the category of ideal candidates for dental implants. Smoking increases the risk of plaque buildup in the mouth heightening the risk of oral infections.
If you are considering dental implants as the ultimate solution for replacing missing teeth, it is important to find out whether you are an ideal candidate. For that evaluation, call to schedule an appointment or simply visit Cooley Smiles for a detailed and individualized evaluation.