A dental implant is a titanium post that is surgically positioned into the jawbone
beneath the gum line that allows your dentist to mount replacement teeth or a
bridge into that area. An implant does not come loose like how a denture can.
Dental implants also benefit general oral health because they do not have to be
anchored to other teeth, like bridges.
Oral Care Specifics to IMPLANTS
If you are planning to go for implants, you must have healthy gums and adequate
bone to support the implant. If your bone is too thin/soft and is unable to
support an implant, you may require a bone graft. In case there is not enough
bone height in the upper jaw or the sinuses are too close to the jaw, you may
require a sinus lift.
A Swedish research team lead by Dr. P.I. Branemark uncovered that bone can
bond with titanium. He called this bone-implant- interface ‘Osseointegration’.
This was the beginning of implant dentistry. The rate of success of dental
implants is connected to this discovery. In 1982, the team reported a 91 percent
success rate in the lower jaw over 15 years. The success rates have improved to
96 percent. Most implants are titanium screws.
Factors in Dental Implant Placement
There are important factors in achieving success including a traumatic surgery
with low-speed drills and the experience of the surgeon—doctors that place
fewer than 50 implants per year have more complications. The patient is
supposed to have the right bone quality and content to initially stabilize the
implant. Essentially, the patient should have at least 8mm of the vertical height of
bone and 6mm of width. If there is a lack of bone, there are many bone-grafting
procedures that can be performed. We can utilize bone harvested from the
patients’ lower jaw/bone harvested from cadavers or bovine bone.
It is important for the doctor to perform a thorough medical history and clinical
exam with the patient. There are some medical problems that make implants
contraindicated, if the patient has brittle diabetes, liver disease, or a severe
bleeding disorder, then he or she is not a candidate for implants.
The oral examination comprises bone quantity and quality, the type of opposing
dentition, and the type of tissue. Following this, a radiographic exam is
performed, taking a panoramic film and 3D cone beam to plan the exact position
the implants need to be placed.
After the proper examination, a surgical guide is made to be used during surgery
to guide the placement of the implant. Usually, antibiotics are given an hour prior
to surgery. The surgery can be performed under local anesthesia or IV sedation.
An incision is made in the area of the missing teeth and a flap is opened up. Then,
a preparation in the bone is made using various size drill bits in a low-speed
handpiece. It is made as long and as wide as the bone in the area. The implant
placed is made of titanium with a roughened surface. The implant is screwed into
the preparation. If a part of the implant’s surface is uncovered with bone, a bone
graft must be placed. Then, the tissue flap is replaced and sutured in place. The
implant must stay in place undisturbed for 4 to 6 months so Osseointegration
can take place. At the time of the healing phase, the patient can still wear their
partial or full denture. After the implant has integrated, the teeth can be placed.
The concept of Implant Dentistry enhances the quality of life for anyone who has
lost a tooth and is wearing dentures, allowing them to smile and chew with ease.