Dental Implants

Did  you know that dental implants are frequently the best treatment  option  for replacing missing 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 replacements that your oral and   maxillofacial surgeon surgically places in the jawbone.
A Solution of Choice for Replacing Missing Teeth

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.  Furthermore, by age 74, 26% of adults have lost all of  their permanent  teeth.

Twenty years ago, these patients would have had no  alternative but  to employ a fixed bridge or removable denture to restore  their ability  to eat, speak clearly and smile. Fixed bridges and  removable dentures,  however, are not the perfect solution and often  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,  fixed bridges and removable dentures usually need to be  replaced every  seven to 15 years.

Today there is another option for  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 replacements that your oral  and maxillofacial surgeon  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 problem.

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 still function at peak performance. More  importantly, the  recipients of those early dental implants are still  satisfied they made  the right choice. If properly cared for, dental  implants can last a  lifetime.
Anatomy of a Dental Implant

A dental implant  designed to replace a single tooth is composed of  three parts: the  titanium implant that fuses with the jawbone; the  abutment, which fits  over the portion of the implant that protrudes  from the gum line; and  the crown, which is created by a prosthodontist  or restorative dentist  and fitted onto the abutment for a natural  appearance.

Many  people who are missing a single tooth opt for a fixed bridge;  but a  bridge may require the cutting down of healthy, adjacent teeth  that may  or may not need to be restored in the future. Then there is  the  additional cost of possibly having to replace the bridge once,  twice or  more over the course of a lifetime. Similarly, a removable  partial  denture may contribute to the loss of adjacent teeth. Studies  show that  within five to seven years there is a failure rate of up to  30% in teeth  located next to a fixed bridge or removable partial  denture.

© 2006-2008 American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS). All rights reserved