Humans have been attempting to replace lost teeth for as long as we can remember. For the last 30 years, this has been achieved with dental implants.
Dental implants are made from titanium, and are embedded in the bone at the site of the lost natural tooth.
Titanium implants are conical in shape, biologically compatible, hypoallergenic, biochemically neutral, and remain unchanged in bone tissue. There is a widespread fear among patients that the body will reject the implant, but this is completely unfounded, and will certainly not be the case if the rules of dentistry, the quality of the implants, and the patient’s dental hygiene are maintained.
Construction of dental implants
Implants are constructed using a special surgical technique with a local anaesthetic, meaning that the procedure is completely painless. The imbedded implant is an artificial tooth root, on which individual or multiple teeth are fixed in various prosthetic structures.
Why have dental implants?
Installing implants at the site of a missing tooth keeps its healthy neighbours from the grinding required to make a bridge. Implants provide the best aesthetic solution, without damaging healthy teeth. Traditionally, if a larger number of teeth have been lost prostheses would be required, but dental implants remove the need for this. The only exception is if all teeth in an arch are missing, in which case an implant prosthesis can provide an excellent and stable solution.
What happens after implantation?
After implantation and a certain period of osseointegration (the joining process in which the implant and bone become one), and in consultation with the patient, the prosthetic phase follows: crowns or bridges, or dental prostheses are added to the implant.
Who is eligible for dental implants?
Today, almost everyone is eligible for implants; the only relative contraindication is if the patient has an advanced systemic disease. Even if anatomical obstacles may exist, they do not usually present a big problem. Currently, implants are not possible if bone mass is greatly reduced, due to long term toothlessness, traumatic tooth extraction, a lowered maxillary sinus, or the wearing of inadequate mobile prostheses. However, various surgical techniques are being developed to increase lost bone mass. Through surgically increasing the alveolar ridge, we can obtain enough mass for a dental implant. Artificial materials are usually used to increase bone mass, although for a more extensive reconstruction they can be used in combination with a graft from the patient’s own bone.