Many of our patients ask about dental implants and whether they are candidates for this procedure. A full understanding of what implants are, and where and when they are indicated, is important when making a decision about whether dental implants are the right solution.
What is an Implant?
Implants, by themselves, are not tooth replacements. They are frequently referred to as root forms, because they replace the root portion of the missing tooth. The supra-structure, consisting of an abutment and crown, is what the patient eventually envisions as the final step of the implant process. This abutment and crown are connected to the implant with either screws or cement to complete the procedure. You can find more information on our Dental Implant page…
Replacing Missing Teeth
Implants can be a great way to replace missing teeth. If a tooth is missing and there is enough horizontal and vertical bone components and enough space, a successful implant can usually be accomplished.
Consider these Implant Success Factors
Here are some factors that should be taken into consideration:
1. Is there enough bone verticality and thickness?
2. What is the quality of the bone in the implant area?
3. Are there vital structures such as nerves and sinuses that may make implant placement more difficult?
4. Are there environmental factors such as smoking that could impact the success of the implant?
5. What is the position of the adjacent and opposing teeth?
6. Are there any overriding health considerations of the patient that could affect success?
What if the Tooth is Still There? Consider the Long-Term Outlook for Implant Success vs. Saving the Tooth
If a tooth still exists in an area and a decision as to whether that tooth should be removed in favor of placement and restoration of a dental implant, an important discussion should take place between the doctor and patient to make a final decision. Sometimes the decision is not a simple one.
Implants do not decay, but they can suffer from bone loss that could lead to eventual implant loss. So while they are overwhelmingly successful, the patient should consider that some do fail. Before you extract a tooth that may be able to be saved, you should consider the cost, the procedures, and success rate of saving the tooth with routine dental treatment versus the same considerations of the dental implant. Careful weighing of the pros and cons of each option is important.
Consider the Aesthetics
Another equally important factor is that of aesthetics. Removal of a tooth (or if the tooth is already removed) and placement of an implant may create an unaesthetic situation. Aesthetics might not be as important in the back of the mouth, but it is incredibly important in the front smile zone. So not only is the available bone important for the success of the implant, but the soft tissue that surrounds the implant can either make or break the aesthetic success of the case. If the aesthetic factor is taken into consideration implant placement there is less chance of disappointment.
Consider Ease of Maintenance
Just like some natural teeth, the crowns connected to implants can, under certain circumstances, become food traps and be more difficult to clean. This is determined by the position of the implant relative to the adjacent natural teeth or adjacent other implants. The dentist and surgeon team can work together to reduce any problems in this regard.
While in discussion with your dentist about dental implants, make sure you review the final cost and result of an implant placement versus other options such as fixed bridges, partial dentures, or keeping the tooth.
Sometimes the decision to go with a dental implant is easy, but sometimes it’s not a clear-cut. Implants are a great solution many times, but they’re not right for every situation. At AK Dental Arts in Staten Island NY, we always present alternative procedures to dental implants, along with cost and advantages and disadvantages.