Friday, January 29, 2010

Health Care and Dental Implants

One of the most requested new dental procedures that has become very popular over the past few years is dental implants. All the young hip kids are talking about it, and dentists. Dental implants are artificial tooth replacements used to counter tooth loss, according to YourDentistryGuide.com. The procedure is categorized as a form of prosthetic (artificial replacement) dentistry, though it also falls into the category of cosmetic dentistry as well. Although you have a number of restorative options for the treatment of missing teeth, none have proven to be as functionally effective and durable as implants. In many cases, dental implants may be the only logical choice for the restoration of all necessary functionality of the teeth and supporting structures.

Replicating the natural function and appearance of your lost teeth can be very difficult to accomplish, according to DentalImplants.org. Historically, dentures or bridge restorations would be used as replacements, but with limited results. Dental implants, however, are natural-looking replacements for missing teeth that also provide the same function as your natural tooth root. They have also been used to anchor these other types of restorations for greater success and patient satisfaction. A dental implant is a small, sturdy, titanium post that acts as the root structure would for a natural tooth. A dental implant is placed into your upper or lower jaw bone. After the bone has grown around the implant, implants can hold a crown, bridge or over-denture just like roots hold natural teeth in place. Implants are very durable and can last a lifetime. They require the same maintenance as natural teeth; this includes brushing, flossing and regular dental check-ups. A single tooth or a full arch of teeth which have been lost due to injury or disease can be replaced with dental implants. Titanium metal is used because of its compatibility with bone and oral tissues. Dental implants have shown a 90 percent success rate and long-term studies continue to show improving success.

According to DentalImplants.org, here are some reasons you may want to consider dental implants:
--To replace one or more teeth.
--To provide support for a partial denture.
--To increase the support and stability of full upper or lower denture.
--To enhance chewing comfort.
--To increase confidence while smiling, talking and eating.
--To improve your overall psychological health.
--To improve esthetic appearance and regain over all confidence.

Dental implants are an ideal option for people in good general oral health who have lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, an injury, or some other reason, according to the American Academy of Periodontology (http://www.perio.org/). While high-tech in nature, dental implants are actually more tooth-saving than traditional bridgework, since implants do not rely on neighboring teeth for support. Dental implants are so natural-looking and feeling, you may forget you ever lost a tooth. You know that your confidence about your teeth affects how you feel about yourself, both personally and professionally. Perhaps you hide your smile because of spaces from missing teeth. Maybe your dentures don't feel secure. Perhaps you have difficulty chewing. If you are missing one or more teeth and would like to smile, speak and eat again with comfort and confidence, there is good news! Dental implants are teeth that can look and feel just like your own! Under proper conditions, such as placement by a periodontist and diligent patient maintenance, implants can last a lifetime. Long-term studies continue to show improving success rates for implants.

Procedural advancements, including the development of narrower “mini” implants, mean that more people than ever before are finding themselves candidates for implantation, according to YourDentistryGuide.com. However, candidacy for implantation still varies, meaning that your dentist may determine that you should opt for an alternative restoration. Keep in mind, too, that dentists do not need a specific license by law in order to perform implant dentistry. A general or restorative dentist may perform the crown and bridge placement that is associated with implant restoration. However, prosthodontists are the specialists who often complete this crucial procedure. Periodontists and oral surgeons perform the implant surgical procedure itself.

Today's dental implants are virtually indistinguishable from other teeth, according to YourDentistryGuide.com. This appearance is aided in part by the structural and functional connection between the dental implant and the living bone. Implants are typically placed in a single sitting but require a period of osseointegration, the process by which direct anchorage of a dental implant root and the bone of the jaw occurs. Osseointegrated implants are the most commonly used and successful type of dental implant. An osseointegrated implant takes anywhere from three to six months to anchor and heal, at which point your dentist can complete the procedure with the placement of a crown. Once the implant has anchored with the jawbone, artificial prosthesis may be attached and the process is done. If osseointegration does not occur, the implant will fail.

This procedure is a team effort between you, your dentist and your periodontist, according to Perio.org. Your periodontist and dentist will consult with you to determine where and how your implant should be placed. Depending on your specific condition and the type of implant chosen, your periodontist will create a treatment plan tailored to meet your needs. Here are considerations for various implant dental procedures based on your individual need:
--Replacing a Single Tooth: If you are missing a single tooth, one implant and a crown can replace it. A dental implant replaces both the lost natural tooth and its root.
--Replacing Several Teeth: If you are missing several teeth, implant-supported bridges can replace them. Dental implants will replace both your lost natural teeth and some of the roots.
--Replacing All of Your Teeth: If you are missing all of your teeth, an implant-supported full bridge or full denture can replace them. Dental implants will replace both your lost natural teeth and some of the roots.
--Sinus Augmentation: A key to implant success is the quantity and quality of the bone where the implant is to be placed. The upper back jaw has traditionally been one of the most difficult areas to successfully place dental implants due to insufficient bone quantity and quality and the close proximity to the sinus. Sinus augmentation can help correct this problem by raising the sinus floor and developing bone for the placement of dental implants.
--Ridge Modification: Deformities in the upper or lower jaw can leave you with inadequate bone in which to place dental implants. To correct the problem, the gum is lifted away from the ridge to expose the bony defect. The defect is then filled with bone or bone substitute to build up the ridge. Ridge modification has been shown to greatly improve appearance and increase your chances for successful implants that can last for years to come.

Dental implants are among the most successful procedures in dentistry, according to YourDentistryGuide.com. There is no guarantee that an implant procedure will be successful, but studies have shown a five-year success rate of 95% for lower jaw implants and 90% for upper jaw implants. The success rate for upper jaw implants is slightly lower because the upper jaw (especially the posterior section) is less dense than the lower jaw, making successful implantation and osseointegration potentially more difficult to achieve. Lower posterior implantation has the highest success rate for all dental implants. Dental implants may fail for a number of reasons. The cause is often related to a failure in the osseointegration process. For example, if the implant is placed in a poor position, osseointegration may not take place. Dental implants may break or become infected (like natural teeth) and crowns may become loose. If you are a smoker who is considering a dental implant, your dentist will likely advise you to give up smoking before undergoing the process because smokers face a higher risk of implant failure. Since the procedure can be extremely expensive, you risk wasting your money on dental implants if you do not give up the habit. On the plus side, dental implants are not susceptible to the formation of cavities; still, poor oral hygiene can lead to the development of peri-implantitis around dental implants. This disease is tantamount to the development of periodontitis (severe gum disease) around a natural tooth.

Dental implants are typically very expensive, and many dental plans do not include the procedure in their coverage. You will want to explore costs and payment options for dental implants, and consider how to leverage the best pricing, dental plans, and payment vehicles before having the procedure done. Insurance plans usually have a waiting period before you can have dental implants done, and the average dental insurance product usually has a maximum amount it will pay for major dental or cosmetic procedures, if at all. One consideration would be to join a discount plan that allows immediate access to use your plan, and you get a savings for the work to be done with participating dentists and specialists. Careington International (http://www.careington.com/) has a dental plan that includes dental implants at a 20% discount off the procedure costs, and the dental plan is available for just a few dollars a month.

Making the initial dental appointment is the first step in evaluating if dental implants are right for you, according to DentalImplants.org. Usually a prosthodontist, periodontist, or an oral surgeon are the dentists to look for after consulting with your general dentist. There are a few general dentists with specialized training qualified to place implants. Check with each doctor to make sure of their specialization or their certification with implantology. On the first appointment a full mouth exam will be completed with a complete medical and dental history, and you’ll receive X-rays and possibly a CT scan, which will give the dentist a good idea of your bone density and the shape of your jaw. Finally, you’ll discuss the options available to you and be educated by the dental staff about the whole implant procedure. They’ll discuss if you’d be a good candidate for a dental implant. You must also commit to a meticulous oral hygiene regime with regular dental visits. Finding out if you’re a good candidate for dental implants begins with a simple step. With motivation, care and willingness, dental implants can give the confidence and security to last a lifetime.

Dental implants, if you can afford them, may be the best option for you if your dentist suggests this procedure to help save your smile. Talk to your dental care provider to see if you are a good candidate, and then investigate your options. A great smile, and your health, are worth the money.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

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