According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, statistics show that 69% of adults ages 35 to 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth to an accident, gum disease, a failed root canal or tooth decay and, by age 74, 26% of adults have lost all of their permanent teeth.
Until the mid-1980s, these patients would have had no alternative other than a fixed bridge or removable denture to restore their ability to eat, speak clearly and smile. For many patients, fixed bridges and removable dentures bring with them a number of other problems. Removable dentures may slip or cause embarrassing clicking sounds while eating or speaking. Of even greater concern, fixed bridges often affect adjacent healthy teeth, and removable dentures may lead to bone loss in the area where the tooth or teeth are missing. Recurrent decay, periodontal (gum) disease and other factors often doom fixed bridgework to early failure. For these reasons, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons says fixed bridges and removable dentures usually need to be replaced every seven to 15 years.
A Choice Solution for Replacing Teeth
Today there is another option for most patients who are missing permanent teeth. Rather than resting on the gum line like removable dentures, or using adjacent teeth as anchors like fixed bridges, dental implants are long-term root replacements that Dr. Meyers surgically places in the jawbone. Composed of titanium metal that “fuses” with the jawbone through a process called “osseointegration,” dental implants never slip or make embarrassing noises that advertise the fact that you have “false teeth,” and never decay like teeth anchoring fixed bridges. Because dental implants fuse with the jawbone, bone loss is generally not a major problem if proper oral hygiene and follow-up visits are maintained.
After more than 20 years of service, the vast majority of dental implants first placed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons in the United States continue to function at peak performance. More importantly, the recipients of those early dental implants are still satisfied they made the right choice. If given proper care, dental implants can last a lifetime.
Anatomy of a Dental Implant
Many people who are missing a single tooth choose a fixed bridge. This choice may require alterations to healthy, adjacent teeth, possibly leading to the need for their restoration in the future. Then there could be the additional cost of having to replace the bridge several times during the course of your lifetime.
Further, conventional dentures may contribute to the loss of bone in the area where teeth are missing. If this happens it may be necessary for Dr. Meyers to graft bone to the area to strengthen it for placement of a dental implant. When a missing tooth is replaced by a dental implant, the fusion, or osseointegration, of the implant and bone provides stability, just as the natural tooth did.
If you are missing several teeth in the same area of your mouth, you may still enjoy the confidence and lifestyle benefits that come with dental implants. Dr. Meyers will place two or more dental implants, depending on the number of teeth that are missing and the type of restoration to be made. Your replacement teeth will be attached to the implants to allow better function and prevent bone loss. The implants will serve as a stable support that tightly locks into your replacement teeth and dentures to prevent slipping and bone loss.
With an overall success rate of about 95% and almost 50 years of clinical research to back them up, dental implants are frequently the best treatment option for replacing missing teeth. Dr. Meyers has been placing implants since 1983.
Dental Implants vs. Conventional Dentures
Many patients who have selected dental implants describe a quality of life that is much more comfortable and secure than the lifestyle endured by those with fixed bridges or removable dentures. Dentures often make a person feel and look older than they are, cause embarrassment in social situations when they slip and click, and restrict the everyday pleasure of eating comfortably.
When they count the benefits they enjoy as a result of their dental implants, patients say their implants eliminate the day-to-day frustrations and discomfort of ill-fitting dentures. They allow people to enjoy a healthy and varied diet without the restrictions many denture wearers face. With a sense of renewed self-confidence, many people rediscover the excitement of an active lifestyle shared with family and friends and the chance to speak clearly and comfortably with co-workers. For all these reasons, people with dental implants often say they feel better… they look better… they live better.
Dental Implants are a Team Effort
Dental implants combine the best of modern science and technology, including a team approach spanning several disciplines.
A successful implant requires that all parties involved—you; the restorative dentist, who makes the crown or denture for the implant; Dr. Meyers, who surgically places the implant; the dental laboratory technician and the dental hygienist—follow a careful plan of treatment. All members of the implant team need to stay in close contact with each other to make sure everyone clearly understands what must be done to meet your expectations.
The team is organized as soon as the decision for placing a dental implant is reached. Following an evaluation that includes a comprehensive examination, x-rays and a consultation with you and members of the implant team, Dr. Meyers surgically places the posts, or implants, in your jaw.
Using today’s technology, many implants can be placed in one stage and restored sooner than ever before. When the implants have stabilized in the jaw, the restorative dentist prepares an impression of the upper and lower jaws. This impression is used to make the model from which the dentures or crowns are created.
The teamwork continues long after the implant and crown have been placed. Follow-up examinations by Dr. Meyers, your restorative dentist and often a dental hygienist are critical, and progress is carefully charted. Dr. Meyers and the restorative dentist continue to work together to provide you with the highest level of aftercare.
Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?
Whether you are a young, middle-aged or older adult; whether you need to replace one tooth, several teeth, or all your teeth, there usually is a dental implant solution for you. With the exception of growing children, dental implants can be the solution of choice for people of all ages, even those with the following health concerns:
- Existing Medical Conditions. If you can have routine dental treatment, you generally can have an implant placed. While precautions are advisable for certain conditions, patients with such chronic diseases as high blood pressure and diabetes are usually successful candidates for dental implant treatment.
- Gum Disease or Problem Teeth. Almost all implants placed in patients who have lost their teeth to periodontal disease or decay have been successful when the patient commits to practicing good oral home care and keeping follow-up appointments.
- Currently Wearing Partials or Dentures. Implants can replace removable bridges or dentures, or they can be used to stabilize and secure the denture, making it much more comfortable.
- Smokers. Although smoking lowers the success rate of implants, it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of getting them.
- Bone Loss. Bone loss is not uncommon for people who have lost teeth or had periodontal disease. Dr. Meyers is trained and experienced in grafting bone to safely and permanently secure the implant.
Implant tooth replacement in children is usually deferred until their jaw growth is complete. There are, however, some instances when a dental implant may be appropriate, such as when it is part of the child’s orthodontic treatment plan. Your family dentist or orthodontist can guide you in this instance.
The Surgical Procedure
Every patient is unique and Dr. Meyers will discuss your individual care with you when he meets you. Generally speaking, the placement of dental implants involves one or two surgical procedures. Dr. Meyers will advise you if your implant procedure will require one or two stages.
If a one-stage procedure can be used, the implant is inserted into your jawbone and a smooth-surfaced “healing abutment” is placed. This abutment protrudes through the gum (gingiva). Later, when the artificial teeth are placed, these posts will not be seen. For the first two to six months following surgery, the implants gradually bond with the jawbone. You should be able to wear temporary dentures and eat a soft diet during this time.
A two-stage procedure is required when bone grafting is needed to provide an adequate foundation for your implants. During the first surgical procedure, the bone graft and implant are placed and covered to enable bone healing to occur. During the second surgical procedure, the implant is exposed and the healing abutment is placed. A complete implant procedure often takes three to eight months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.
We take great effort in planning your implants. We will consult with your restorative dentist and the dental laboratory to make sure the best treatment plan will be developed for you. To aid in this, we have a computerized program which allows us to analyze your bone structure and aid in the placement of the implants. This procedure requires you to get a special CT scan at a radiology facility. We will recommend this for certain cases where we need more detailed information to adequately plan your surgery.