Dental Implants: When Ancient Innovation and Modern Technology Meet!
Although considered by many to be one of the greatest innovations within the modern dental field, the origins of today’s dental implant can actually be traced back to around 600 AD! Long ago, ancient civilizations such as the Mayans and Aztecs were among the first known people to conceptualize the idea of replacing a broken or damaged tooth. However, as evidenced by ancient society’s utilization of seashells as makeshift replacements, or the ivory (not wood) set of dentures worn by George Washington during his presidency, finding an adequate replacement for something as vital as a tooth is no easy feat!
Fortunately for us, we live in an age where the dental implant has evolved into a marvel of modern dental technology, thus allowing dentists to provide patients everywhere with a seemingly flawless replacement that is certain to exceed expectations!
Dental Implant: Purpose and Function
To gain a full understanding of dental implants, one must first understand why it is necessary to replace missing teeth in the first place. While obviously having missing teeth make it exceptionally more difficult to chew and break down food, something you might not realize is that underneath a tooth’s crown (or exposed portion of the tooth) is what’s known as the root (or lower half of the tooth). Much like the submerged portion of an iceberg, the root of the tooth descends far beneath the gum line, and serves to both keep your tooth securely anchored within your mouth, in addition to providing the tooth with the sustenance needed to survive. If a tooth is damaged or destroyed; however, the sensitive nerves and vessels required to nourish the root are left exposed to any hazardous bacteria within your mouth. Without necessary protection from bacteria, the exposed tissue will surely become infected, thereby causing gum disease to develop.
Related Article: Gum Disease: Know Thy Enemy and Protect Your Health
Due to the potentially serious complications associated with gum disease, a replacement should be sought out as soon as possible. While there are several different options to choose for replacing a tooth, it comes at little surprise that dental implants have emerged as one of the most popular options.
As you may know, dental implants come in the form of a screw-like device that is designed to act as a base for the newly created dental crown. Once surgically inserted within the patient’s mouth, the crown is securely screwed into place, ultimately creating a sturdy replacement that will look and function like a natural tooth. With a long-term success rate of approximately 98%, implants are indeed the most effective option for replacing a missing tooth. Despite this however, it’s important to remember that implants are not for everyone and might not always be the correct solution, in the section below we will highlight the requirements needed to receive a dental implant and what situations could prevent someone from receiving an implant.
- Gum Disease: Know Thy Enemy and Protect Your Health
- Missing Tooth: What are my options for tooth replacement?
- Dental Implant Procedure: Everything You Need to Know
Dental Implant: Are You a Candidate?
If you wish to receive a dental implant, a dentist or oral surgeon must first determine whether you are a candidate to receive one. While the vast majority of people are able to meet the candidacy criterion, there are certain conditions that could possibly hinder a patient’s eligibility or outright disqualify them from implant candidacy, such conditions are listed as follows:
Youth: First and foremost, you must understand that a dental implant is NOT a quick fix. An Implant is a long-term replacement for missing teeth and is not recommended for adolescents or patients whose jawbone might still be developing. While temporary solutions can be made available for younger patients, implants are generally reserved for adults who are otherwise in good overall health.
Smoking: Although this might be a deal-breaker for some, it is important to realize that despite their high success rate, implants are far more likely to fail if the patient receiving them is a regular smoker. Due to the increased probability of failure, dentists may be unwilling to perform the procedure on patients who smoke and will often request the patient to quit prior to receiving an implant.
Gum Disease: Periodontitis or gum disease as it is commonly known, is a progressive infection of the gum tissue in which (if left untreated) can significantly damage the teeth, gums, and jawbone, and could trigger additional illnesses through the body. Indeed, gum disease can be the cause of tooth loss, however it is essential that the condition be treated prior to undergoing implant surgery.
Pregnancy: For mothers who are currently expecting, your dentist will likely ask you to postpone receiving a dental implant until after childbirth, thereby avoiding any unnecessary stress during pregnancy.
Untreated Diabetes: If you suffer from diabetes, you can still be eligible to undergo dental implant surgery; however, you MUST have the condition under control first! Only when you have sought out the proper medical treatment and stabilized your condition, will you be a viable candidate for treatment.
Medications: While the majority of prescription medications shouldn’t present a problem, certain medications such as steroids or any drugs that may suppress the immune system (such as blood thinners) can increase the risk of complications during implant surgery. Therefore, it is imperative that your dentist be informed as to any and all medications you are currently taking prior to the implant treatment.
Related Article: Are You a Dental Implant Candidate?
Dental Implant: A Few Things to Remember!
Although many of the aforementioned conditions could possibly prevent you from being a candidate for dental implant surgery, it’s important to remember that each patient’s situation is different and there might be ways to reestablish your candidacy depending on the given circumstance. While obvious examples of this such as quitting smoking, treating diabetes, and postponing surgery until after pregnancy, have already been discussed, there are several additional procedures that can restore one’s candidacy as well. If a patient has sustained any sort of bone loss, (due to facial trauma, periodontal disease, or other illnesses) procedures such as bone grafting or a sinus lift can be effective methods of restoring a patient’s jawbone, thereby providing it with the strength necessary to support a dental implant.
If you have a missing tooth and would like to schedule a consultation to determine your candidacy for a dental implant, contact your nearest Overland Park Dentistry location!
Local dentist, Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS, and his team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with preventative, restorative or cosmetic dentistry. To schedule your dental appointment with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.