Dental Implants are my passion. I have in the past and still do spend a lot of time learning about new techniques in dental implantology. Throughout history dentistry has involved saving the teeth God gave us, or making the best of plastic devices (a denture) to replace our teeth once they are gone. To me, being able to replace teeth with what is sometimes better than the original (in those with high decay rates) is fasinating and ground breaking. In addition we continue to improve our ability to grow bone through bone grafting via autogenous bone or autograph (your own bone), allograft (cadavear bone), xenograft (bone from an animal other than a human). Your own bone works the best to increase the bone needed for dental implants. The most common area of the mouth in need of bone grafting is the rear of your upper jaw where the sinus cavity sometimes complicates placement of dental implants to replace upper implants. Fortunately, the maxillary sinus is one of the easiest places to grow bone in the body, and in many circumstances a sinus graft can be completed at the same time an implant is placed.
Tooth loss can bring about a multitude of problems. First, with fewer teeth stimulating your jawbone, the bone will begin to atrophy, or decrease in size . Studies show when a tooth is removed the jawbone in the area loses approximately 30% of its volume within two years. Second, spaces from missing teeth can cause other teeth to shift, bringing about other consequences. Dental implants prevent both the bone loss and teeth shifting associated with tooth loss. Implants enable chewing much like natural teeth, and in doing so transmit force to the bone (much like teeth) which preserves bone structure.
According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), only about 10% of dentists in the United States are trained to place implants. Dr. Davis has studied with world-renowned implantology experts to fine tune his skills in all facets of dental implants. Most general dentists do not surgically place dental implants, but instead refer patients to an oral surgeon or periodontist for the surgery, then those patients go back to the general dentist to restore (add teeth to the implant(s))-it gets confusing. At Robert M. Davis, DDS & Associates, we place and restore dental implants, creating predictable results, usually at less cost. Call us today at our Raytown Dentist Office (816) 358-0800 or at our Pleasant Hill Dentist Office (816) 540-3110 to schedule an appointment for an implant consultation.
How Dental Implants Work
Most dental implants are fabricated primarily from titanium, and are manufactured in a variety of lengths and diameters. When an implant is placed in your jaw, during the healing process it fuses with the bone in a process known as osseointegration. Many of my implant patients refer to implants as screws, and although they look like screws, dental implants achieve long term stability not by friction between the bone and threads, but rather by the bone tissue actually growing into the microscopically porous surface of the implant. When this process is complete, we will restore the implant(s) in one of a number of different ways. To replace one or several missing teeth, abutments are attached to the integrated implants, and the color-matched porcelain crowns are placed on the abutments restoring the smile. If the implants are intended to replace an entire jaw of teeth, a fixed bridge or implant-supported denture can be fabricated on the implants. A bottom denture should be supported by a minimum of 2 implants, while an upper denture usually requires a minimum of 4 implants. As a general rule, patients are able to chew with greater force as the number of implants used increases.
Candidates for dental implants:
- Have sufficient volume of bone
- Be free of active periodontal disease or other oral infections.
- Have good dental hygiene habits
- *While dental implants can be used in smokers, serious consideration should be given to smoking cessation prior to dental implant placement in the jaw. Implant placement in smokers carries a higher failure rate and generally extends healing times.
The quickest way to determine whether you are a dental implant candidate is to schedule an exam with Dr. Davis. He has studied under Dr. Carl Misch, the world's most recognized expert in dental implantology, and he will know whether dental implants are a good option to replace your missing teeth.
Why Choose Dental Implants?
Some people consider lower-cost options like dentures or a bridge to replace missing teeth. However, these options each carry significant trade-offs. Without any osseointegration, your jawbone will continue to lose mass and become weaker. Infections can spread undetected beneath false teeth, and they won't have the same functionality as your old teeth.
Dental implants offer several advantages:
- Can restore mass and strength to your jawbone
- Indistinguishable from your natural teeth
- Customized to fit your mouth
- Can perform all the functions of regular teeth
- No special cleaners or maintenance required
- Properly cared for, dental implants should last you a lifetime
If you have lost multiple teeth, Dr. Davis can anchor bridges or dentures with dental implants, improving their performance. And if you are worried about money, you should know that Dr. Davis prices his implants at a price you can afford while giving you the same or better quality as competing implant dentists.
Dental Implant Procedure
The first step for your dental implant involves placing the implant in your jaw, then giving it three to six months to heal. It has been proven that implants have the best success rate if they are given time to fuse to the bone before any stress is placed on them.
Once the implant has healed, Dr. Davis will attach the abutment to your implant. This is a small metal rod that supports the crown. Once the abutment is in place, Dr. Davis will attach a crown customized to fit in with your teeth.
Some dental offices offer "same-day dental implants" that claim to finish the whole process in a single day. This requires a remarkably solid jaw, so fewer people qualify for it, and those who do experience complications and failures at a higher rate. In any case, same-day implants usually still involve wearing a "temporary" which is fragile and prevents excessive force from being applied to the implants. Usually, Dr. Davis prefers to let the implant(s) heal, which reduces problems and offers the best long-term outcome. More recent studies advocate a progressive loading sequence, where forces are gradually applied to implants over several months, with temporary then permanent teeth. At times, implants can be immediately restored with crowns when they are placed in the front of the lower jaw - simply because the bone in this area is usually very dense. As a general rule though, we prefer to allow implants to heal (intergrate) before we put teeth on them because it provides us with the best long term outcome.
If you are only missing one tooth, a single implant will be enough. Patients missing all or most of their teeth will need to get multiple dental implants, which can be used to anchor dentures or bridges.
One of the problems we commonly run into when placing dental implants is the lack of bone. Although implants do not decay like natural teeth (because they are metal), implants must have sufficient bone to hold them in place. In many circumstances we can grow your own bone using bone grafting. The best bone graft material is your own bone harvested from another part of your mouth, but other grafting material are also successfully used. Depending on the case, bone grafting may or may not extend the treatment time before the implant teeth can become fully functional.
The most common area of the mouth usually requiring grafting is the area of the back teeth in the upper jaw. Our maxillary sinus cavity is typically located in the area where implants need to be put in order to replace missing upper molars. As we all know, sinus infections affect many people and sticking an implant up into a sinus cavity improperly can result in chronic sinus infections and/or implant failure. Fortunately, the sinus cavity is one of the easiest places in the body to grow bone, and so we can predictably grow bone in the back of the upper jaw for implant placemenr. When nearly adequate bone is present below the maxillary sinus, a sinus tap type sinus lift can be used to place a implant 1-3mm into the sinus without perforation of the sinus membrane and without any increased risk of problems. When less bone is present, the lateral window sinus graft approach is needed.