Dental Implants

Some of the most remarkable advances in modern dentistry have come in the field of dental implants. From the original days of Dr. Branemark’s research in Sweden have come the common precepts of modern dental implants. His research in materials, design and surgical technique is the basis for all implant dentistry performed today.

In simplified terms the technique involves placing a hollow, titanium screw in the jaw bone, allowing it to heal for several months, then attaching a gold, titanium, or zirconium interface, upon which is placed a porcelain, or metal tooth, teeth or denture.

There are several critical issues with implants. The patient has to be assessed thoroughly with xrays(CT scans, a Panorex, etc.) to make sure there is adequate bone, in thickness, quality , height and position. This coupled with a thorough medical review and hard and soft tissue evaluation will help determine if the patient is a candidate for implant dentistry. Some patients, who do not qualify initially because of inadequate bone, may sometimes have that situation rectified with one of several bone growth or addition procedures such as bone grafting, sinus lifting, or even bone stimulating enzyme application.

In today’s society of “instant needs gratification” there is always someone who wants new teeth today. What amazes the dental professional is that these same people spent years ruining their natural teeth, meant to last a lifetime, yet they expect the artificial replacement in 24 hours? A word of caution, very few situations or conditions allow for the placement of fully functional implants in a short period of time. Dr. Branemark’s successful technique depended entirely on understanding the biology involved, and allowing the body the time it needed to heal and accept the foreign, titanium implant.

To date short cuts have usually meant rejection or physical failure of the implant. Implants placed properly, in adequate bone of the correct design and location, properly loaded and after an adequate healing period of 3-6 months will have a 90-95% success rate and last for many years. As in most things in life, “ you get what you pay for” was never more appropriate than in implant dentistry. There are 3 or 4 major implant companies available to us in North America. True they have many patents on their designs, materials and techniques, which does keep the cost up, but they also have years of research, service and support for all their professionals and patients. If and when something does go wrong and it does occasionally happen, it is usually of a pretty serious nature. When this happens, who would you want helping you and your dental professional, the people who have the ongoing commitment to research and design or “ the fly by night company” no longer in business, who can neither provide parts, service or research? Please be aware, unfortunately, there are many of these “fly by night companies” in the North American market place. If implants are meant to last for many years, it only makes sense that the patient and dental professional have to have a company that is going to be there for the long haul.

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