Tooth loss is a serious issue. It can occur when a cavity has invaded too far into a tooth to be fixed, bone loss around the tooth is too severe to hold the tooth in any longer or trauma knocks the tooth out. What most people don't realize is that when a permanent tooth is lost, it can create a domino effect that could harm the entire area around it. The teeth on either side collapse toward the space over time, the tooth opposing it will drift into the space and the bite forces become unbalanced. Neighboring teeth take on more brunt of the force than they are designed to. There are several ways to replace missing teeth depending on where they are in the mouth and what is around them. In general, there are three ways: some type of denture or removable appliance, a fixed bridge which connects adjacent teeth or a dental implant. A dental implant is a small titanium peg shaped screw with a special coating that is similar to the material bone is made of so it fools the body into thinking that the implant is bone and heals around it and fuses to it.
Understanding Dental Implants
An implant to replace a single missing tooth is placed where the root of the missing tooth used to be. After a healing time of usually 3-4 months, the implant has fully fused with the patient's bone and can be loaded with forces via a crown or a bridge. So essentially, the implant acts in the same manner as the root of the tooth that used to be there. For multiple tooth loss, the options become more complicated in terms of dental implant placement. They can be placed in multiple different locations to support whatever restoration the doctor has chosen to replace the missing teeth with. Even if someone is unfortunate enough to lose all of their teeth, dental implants can be used to provide a durable restoration whether it be a removable implant overdenture or a semi removale hybrid which is called that because it is a cross between a denture and a bridge.
An implant overdenture is like a traditional denture in material and appearance but the major difference is that instead of just trying to stick to the gums like a traditional denture, it precisely attaches to the implants creating a denture that is very tight and stable and can be used to chew all the same foods as teeth and will never rock loose A hybrid is a semi removable restoration supported by implants. Semi removable refers to the fact that the hybrid stays in day in and day out and is never removed by the patient. However in case of an emergency or in case of repair, the dentist is able to remove and put it back in at will. A hybrid has the advantage of having a smaller footprint than an overdenture so the patient feels less "stuff" in their mouth. It also is made of more tooth-like materials so they look and feel more like teeth than an overdenture. Finally hybrids are overall the most esthetic, durable and comfortable manner to replace an entire arch of missing teeth.
A Customized Approach Sets Dr. Stanton Apart
Just like crowns, veneers and bridges, not all implants are created equal. There are hundreds of implant companies in the US and around the world and unfortunately they do not adhere to the same standards. Just like most other things in life, you get what you pay for and too many dentists are searching for discount implants that are clinically acceptable but cost them less to place. Further more, the doctor placing the implant can have all different levels of training.
Did you know that general dentists are technically allowed to place implants without any additional licensing or formal education? It's true. Which is why you will see many doctors advertising implant specials after having taken a weekend course in Las Vegas and buying some discount implant parts. Imagine the difference between having someone with two days of education and using some discount parts place your implant versus a board certified surgeon who went to three years of additional full time school for implants only and using one of the most expensive, well-studied and guaranteed implant systems in the world.
Make sure to ask the right questions and do your research before choosing someone to place your implants. Remember, a lot of the damage from a failed implant can be either irreversible or take years to reverse just to be able to attempt another one.