What is an implant?
Dental implants replace the roots of the missing teeth. As soon as they sit firmly in the bone they are able to serve as support for the desired restoration. Should there be too little bone left in the jaw, a bone augmentation may be considered. So there are no hopeless cases.
Main uses of implants
There are basically three situations when the insertion of implants proves extremely useful:
- Single-tooth gap: If only one tooth is missing, an implant can replace it easily and, most importantly, without the necessity of making a bridge and therefore doing any harm to the adjacent teeth.
- Multiple-tooth gaps and end-gaps: If several teeth are lost and their state and/or position do not allow the application of a fixed restoration, a couple of implants may change the circumstances completely; even a fixed bridge becomes an available option. On some occasions implants can stabilize removable dentures as well.
- Toothless jaws: Full dentures often fit too loosely if there are no teeth remaining. With placing four implants (usually connected with bars) that serve as a supporting base, the denture’s retention and its functional value improves a great deal.
How is it done?
Implantation is carried out as a daily routine nowadays. However, it must be preceded by thorough planning and the sanitation of the mouth.
Out of the several surgical methods the so called two-stage technique is preferred most of the time:
- In the first (surgical) stage the implants are places into the jaw bone.
- This is followed by a healing period of 3-6 months depending on the quality of the bone and other factors.
- During the second (prosthetic) stage the abutments are joined with the implants and the restoration completed.
Who can get implants?
Virtually everybody is a suitable candidate for dental implants. There are a few considerations to be taken into account though:
- Some severe chronic diseases like leukemia, persistent immune disorders, osteoporosis, rheumatic diseases or uncontrolled diabetes do not allow implantation.
- Regular intake of anticoagulant drugs, steroids, immunosuppressants or cytostatics may also be an exclusion factor.
- Since heavy alcohol, nicotine or drug addiction significantly reduce the chances of success, the implantation is not recommended.
- Another basic requirement is a well cared for mouth, preferably without any inflammation. Without proper personal oral hygiene, regular check ups and potential after-care, an enduring success can not be guaranteed.
Bone augmentation (also called bone build-up) will be necessary when the implantation seems impossible due to the lack of adequate jaw bone. During this process the bone graft is being put on the alveolar ridge. Over time the body replaces the graft with its own bone tissue. The procedure can be used either as a preliminary treatment or simultaneously with the implantation.