Dental implants, have been a major focus of my dental practice since 1989. The technology has improved immensely since that time to the extent that the success rate in dental implants are nearing 100 percent. Dental implants are now the standard of care for replacing missing teeth.
Due to people’s awareness that dental implants are now the best alternative to teeth replacements, many dentists are now offering implants in their practices.
In this column, I will address the most frequently asked questions on dental implants – what dental implants are, the benefits of dental implants, who is a candidate for dental implants and how painful dental implants are.
Dental implants are replacements for the root for teeth that were extracted. They act as anchors to support a tooth or many teeth. Dental implants are made from titanium or titanium alloy, the same material used in hip and knee replacements. Today, some implants are available in all-ceramic.
Benefits of dental implants
• Dental implants prevent further bone loss. By preventing bone wasting, which normally occurs with the loss of teeth, the facial structures remain intact. This is especially important when all of the teeth are missing because the face tends to collapse if implants are not placed to preserve bone.
• Overall quality of life is enhanced with replacement teeth that look, feel and function more like natural teeth. You will look younger and more attractive increasing your confidence and self-image.
• You are likely to live longer because you will get to eat better and prevent malnutrition or stomach problems. You should place fresh vegetables and fruits back on the menu. Also, your chewing is improved and your digestion will be better as well.
• You can relax and don’t have to worry about your dentures moving around, popping out or causing discomfort. Implants are so securely attached that the fear of dentures falling out will be eliminated.
• Your mouth will be restored as closely as possible to its natural state.
• You would be able to taste food more completely. When wearing an upper denture, the roof is usually covered. This prevents you from enjoying the palatal taste buds thereby adversely affecting your taste. With dental implants your palate remains free and open.
• No more need for denture adhesives. That sticky and messy denture glue will be a thing of the past.
• Teeth on either side of the missing teeth remain intact and are not subjected to hooks and clasps to hold a partial denture in place. In bridges, it is required to grind down teeth on either side of the missing space in order to anchor a fixed bridge. Your tooth structure can never be replaced and the long-term health of these teeth is compromised.
Candidate for dental implant treatment
Most adults who are missing one or more teeth and is in generally good health is a candidate for dental implant treatment. The biggest medical concern is uncontrolled diabetes and chronic smokers.
Quality and quantity of bone for implant placement is another factor to consider. However, many persons can have additional procedures to grow and replace bone needed for dental implants. Advances in this type of treatment have made it possible for hundreds of our patients to now qualify for successful implant procedures. In addition, the 3D dental CT scanner allows us to “see” bone we cannot see on regular dental-rays.
Is dental implant surgery painful?
There is no pain during the procedure. We usually use a very high grade of local anesthetic and patients do well. Other options are conscious sedation. Prescribed medications after the procedure serve patients well in controlling any pain and swelling.
Am I too old for implants?
Your overall health and your desire to improve your quality of life are much more important things to consider than your age. The ages of our dental implant patients have ranged from 18 to 91 (yes, age 91 and doing well).
As you age, there are fewer and fewer things to enjoy in life. Chewing your food can be one of the last pleasures you have. Many persons suffer through their denture experience. Some patients even lose their dentures and do not have any aid to help them chew. When dental implants are placed, you are assured that you will be able to chew and have teeth for the rest of your life.
In next week’s article, we will continue with frequently asked questions about dental implants.
• Dr. Kendal V.O. Major is the founder and CEO of the Center for Specialized Dentistry, which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in New Providence and Grand Bahama. He is the first Bahamian specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He is also a certified fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, New Providence. He can be contacted at (242) 325-5165 or email@example.com.