Dental Implants: What You Need to Know Before Getting One

Replacing a missing tooth is a common concern for many people, and dental implants are an innovative solution that closely mimics the structure, stability and function of a natural tooth. However, due to certain individual considerations, not all patients are good candidates for the dental implant procedure. Thanasi Loukas, an experienced implant dentist in the Park Ridge area, explains how age plays a role in determining if dental implants are the right choice for you. Ultimately, the patient's health is more important than age when it comes to deciding if dental implants are appropriate or not.

For example, an 85-year-old person without serious chronic diseases, who takes good care of themselves and doesn't smoke, qualifies for implants much more easily than a 45-year-old diabetic who smokes and drinks alcohol regularly. However, sometimes the bone cannot fuse sufficiently with the metal implant. Smoking can contribute to implant failure and complications. In some cases, you may only need a minor bone graft, which can be done at the same time as the implant surgery. An artificial tooth (crown) is placed on an extension of the post (abutment) of the dental implant, giving it the appearance of a real tooth.

If the bone doesn't fuse enough, the implant is removed, the bone is cleaned, and the procedure can be retried in about three months. Dental implant surgery is a procedure that replaces the roots of the teeth with metal posts in the form of screws and replaces damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and work much like real ones. The oral surgeon may need to transplant a small portion of bone, usually from another site in the upper or lower jaw to give the dental implant a solid base. This is because the powerful masticatory action of the mouth places great pressure on the bone and, if it cannot support the implant, the surgery is likely to fail. As you can see, dental implants can help preserve facial structure, preventing the bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing. Full-arch fixed implant bridges, often referred to as All-on-4 (figure), are taking the dental field by storm.

Even routine implant cases can be affected by factors such as parafunction, occlusion, periodontal disease, the size of the space to be restored and the patient's budget. Always consider restoration options that will save at least a few teeth if both arches are being treated. Dental implants are surgically placed in the jawbone, where they serve as roots for missing teeth. Once the implant has been installed and the mouth has healed, the dentist will place a new device, called an abutment, on top of the implant. However, it's important to note that while upper age limits have been extended over time, dental implants are not yet an appropriate solution for patients under 18. No matter how you lost your tooth (from severe decay, from advanced gum disease or from an accidental injury), replacing that missing tooth is never too far from your mind.

Dental implants require just as much care as real teeth - brushing your teeth regularly, flossing daily, rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash and regular dental checkups.

Vicki Morris
Vicki Morris

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