Implants Root out Dentures
Thursday March 4, 1999
Dear Dr. Mady: I am a 67-year old retired man who can now afford to repair and replace my teeth properly. I have no teeth at all on the top. The bottom is missing some and a few are loose. What are implants all about, and do you think they will work for me.-Dick in Leamington
Dear Dick: Whether dental implants will work will depend on a number of variables. They are artificial replacements for missing natural teeth roots. These implants are small titanium devices threaded directly into the jaw bone at the sites where teeth were. Replacement teeth later are directly attached to these.
The procedure involves the insertion of the metal fixtures into the bone. Over time, these will actually bond to the bone by a process known as osseointegration and when they are firmly and completely attached, the new teeth can be placed on them.
Implants can also be used to anchor slightly loose teeth in place. This process enables many who have lost teeth to enjoy both esthetics and function, and also improve their overall health through proper food breakdown. We all know that the mouth is where digestion and nutrition begins for the entire body.
Even individuals who have false teeth in one or both arches can find solutions with dental implants. If you want to get rid of a denture or avoid it totally, this may be the choice for you. If you find that you cannot function adequately with dentures, then this may offer the greatest hope for you.
The problem with edentulous patients (those with no teeth) is that their original jaw bone usually shrinks considerably in the years after the extraction. This shrinkage is called resorption and as the jawbone decreases in size, it becomes increasingly difficult to anchor the dentures, especially lowers. As a result, many struggle with dentures that don't allow them to smile, chew or speak properly.
Implants on the other hand can provide support for not only esthetics, but function and comfort. Being made of titanium, assures that the implant will be biocompatible with the human body and will never corrode or break down. This titanium prosthesis will reduce the chance of more bone shrinkage, especially after the first year post-placement.
The whole procedure (after complete diagnosis and case presentation) requires several visits over a certain period of time. If a complete denture is being replaced, one can still be worn during the entire process as long as it is relieved in the implant area.
Dental implants aren't for everyone. Overall health must be good, and healthy gums and sufficient bone support are mandatory for any candidate. Once completed, the implant won't be exactly like a natural tooth but will require as much care including regular dental check-ups.
Thousands of cases of dental implants have been completed successfully around the world. Some replace single teeth and others replace an entire set. Ask your dentist for more information or literature.
This column is reprinted with the permission of the author and The Windsor Star. "Ask the Dentist" is written by Windsor dentist (and ECDS member), Dr. David Mady Jr. The column appears the first Thursday of each month.