Get to Know the Ins and Outs of Dental Implants

If you have ever lost a tooth, you know what a nightmare it can be for your appearance. Now, I’m not talking about baby teeth. Kids who have missing teeth because they’re growing older are pretty cute, even if they don’t think so. I am talking about losing one of your permanent teeth. That is a big deal for two reasons. The first is that they are not supposed to come out. Once you get your adult teeth, you are supposed to be set for life. The second reason is that there is no replacement that is as good as your real teeth.

Dr. Ardelean will tell you that nothing will last as long or be as strong as your real teeth are when healthy. This is one area in the dental community that you will find no debate. Dr. Ardelean and every other dentist you speak to will say the same thing, but in the event that you do lose a permanent tooth because of injury or disease, Dr. Ardelean is able to offer you something that is as close as medically possible to your natural teeth: dental implants. You have probably heard about dental implants and think that they are replacement teeth that a dentist will put in place of teeth that fell out or were removed. That is an oversimplification of what these restorations are and what they can do for you.

What Is a Dental Implant?

This is a good place to start. Let’s make sure that everyone is on the same page as far as what a dental implant is before we move further. A dental implant is not exactly a replacement tooth. A replacement tooth is called a crown, and many people who do not have dental implants have crowns.

A dental implant is in fact a replacement tooth root. Implants are the base that you can attach either a crown or a denture (set of replacement teeth) to in order to keep the teeth stable. Dental implants are made from surgical-grade titanium alloy. Titanium is used because of the special way it interacts with your bone structure. Through a process called osseointegration, the titanium bonds with bone. The titanium and the bone become one. This same process is why when you break a bone, the surgeon will use a titanium plate or rod to stabilize the bone for healing. This actually allows your bone to be stronger afterward than it was before.

How Long Have They Been Around?

There have been forms of dental implants dating back all the way to ancient civilizations. Excavations of Mayan burials have found evidence of precious gems and minerals that were used in place of missing teeth. There was even evidence that the body tried to integrate these materials into the bone structure, like what happens with titanium, though the integration was far from the level that we see with titanium.  

There have been many forms of dental implants over the centuries since the Mayan revelation, but we did not come to a version of our modern form until the mid 1960s and early 1970s. That was when titanium was used as the base material for a dental implant procedure. The first implants made of titanium were out into the patients in 1965. They took six months to integrate with the bone, and through thorough care by the patient and their dentist lasted for more than 40 years. Dental implants are still changing today. We are always pushing to find new and better ways of giving people a replacement for their real teeth.

How Are Implants Different From Dentures?

Dentures are a replacement dental arch. They can contain a partial arch or a full row of teeth. Dental implants are as different from dentures as they are from crowns, which is to say you are comparing apples to oranges. Dental implants can be used to anchor a denture, however.

There are several ways to use dental implants and dentures together. There is the implant-supported method and the implant-retained method. The implant-supported method uses dental implants to support the denture. A bar is bonded to the back of the denture that is placed on the dental implants. This keeps the denture securely in place. The implant-retained method uses balls, not a bar, that are secured on top of the implants. The balls will fit into receivers on the underside of your denture and hold it in place.

What Else Should I Know?

Bone mass is critical to a successful dental implant procedure. This is because of how important the osseointegration is to the process. It is what makes the whole thing work, so to speak. If you are low on bone mass in a certain area of your jaw, you may need to have a bone graft or another type of procedure to build up the bone mass. Once the bone mass has been built, you will be ready for your implant procedure with Dr. Ardelean.
Call Ardelean Family Dentistry in Clinton Township, MI today at 586-465-4505 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Ardelean.