What Are Dental Implants?
Safe and cost-effective procedures are available for the implantation of dental implants for suitable patients.
Recent advances in medical and materials technology and dental surgery procedures have made it possible to replace the roots of teeth with artificial posts called dental implants.
The natural roots of the teeth are embedded in the jawbones through the gums. When teeth decay or suffer cosmetic damage one option for replacing them is the long term or even permanent option of dental implants.
Dental implants involve the implanting or insertion of a special artificial root or post in the jaw in place of the root of the tooth. There are numerous kinds of prosthetic post. If the patient is assessed as suitable (see below,) a small surgical procedure is used to implant titanium screws or other prosthetics as posts.
The posts are inserted and allowed sit for a period whilst the gum heals around them, after which they can be used to fasten and support artificial teeth.
There must be enough bone mass in the jaw for the implant to take and to be safely and effectively fixed in place. Patients with less bone mass due to naturally small mandibular (lower jaw) or maxillary (upper jaw) structure are often not good candidates for dental implants.
The surgical procedure is safer and more effective if the patient is in good general health – especially their cardiovascular, circulatory, and immune system health. Type II diabetes can cause some significant problems with the healing process after surgery.
Patients with small structure or limited bone mass and strength because of diseases that may have diminished or weakened the jaw structure are often not considered good candidates for dental implants. Alcoholism also reduces the safety, effectiveness, and longevity of dental implants.
Patients should be sure to discuss any chronic health issues with the dental surgeon. Specialists must ensure that the procedure is as safe as possible before carrying out any dental implant surgery.
The surgery is performed under anaesthetic and will result in some minor discomfort for a day or so. Some adjustments and maintenance may be required.
The fitting of the actual artificial teeth to the implants may occur anything up to 3 months after the installation of the endoosteo integrated (in-bone-inserted) dental implants.
Cost and Durability
The cost of dental implants is significant (about $6000 depending upon the exact procedure,) but it can be worth the investment as they can last the rest of one’s life if well maintained with excellent oral cleanliness habits and without injury or inappropriate eating (of very hard substances like ice, for example) that causes damage. Health insurance may cover the cost of implants if damage to the teeth was cause by insured events.
Dental implants can last a very long time – 15 to 20 years – and even for the life time of the patient. The key is proper initial assessment, good techniques and technology combined with the observation of a good dental and oral care regimen by the patient.
It is very important that the patient is thoroughly assessed using X-Ray and other techniques to ensure that they are suitable for dental implants. An initial consultation will be required purely for the purposes of such an assessment.
Joanne Lemke is a final year creative writing student at UOW, who is looking to break into the corporate copywriting space once she graduates and hopefully go on to eventually some day write a book around her other passions, namely beauty, cooking and travel.