Public awareness of dental implant treatments is increasing. More and more clinicians are offering this procedure, while some dentists refer their patients to dental implant specialists. Whichever service is provided, it’s important to have a good understanding of the basic concepts and techniques of dental implantology. With this information, interested patients can be provided with a comprehensive overview of implant treatment and how it may help them maintain a healthy smile.
Main Advantages of Dental Implant Treatment
Dental implants provide a predictable way to restore single and multiple teeth. They are particularly effective for edentulous patients. Treatment can closely replicate a patient’s natural teeth, both aesthetically and functionally. With dental implants, patients regain normal masticatory function and the ability to speak and smile properly. Patients suffering from mouth or facial pain may find their symptoms improve while appearance and facial aesthetics are enhanced.
Assessing a Patient’s Medical History
Most patients are suitable for implant therapy. Generally speaking, only those who have an uncontrolled metabolic disease or are acutely ill will be unable to benefit from treatment. Another possible issue to consider is a patient’s ability to heal, particularly patients who have weak immune systems. These people might have diabetes or osteoporosis or have been prescribed certain medications, such as bisphosphonates, which prevent bone loss. Specific treatments, including radiation therapy and chemotherapy of the head and neck, could bring the need for a different solution for tooth loss. Clinicians also need to assess patients for para-functional habits, including clenching and grinding, and periodontal health and oral hygiene must be considered. If a patient is not prepared to maintain good oral hygiene, then dental implant treatment may not be advisable.
Biological and Functional Considerations of Dental Implants
When placing dental implants, the main aim is to achieve good “osseointegration.” This refers to the functional connection between the surface of a load-bearing implant and living bone, allowing the implant to become rigidly fixed within the bone so it can withstand constant pressure. Over the past few years, there has been extensive research into how to improve the process of osseointegration, and implants are frequently treated to encourage new bone growth.
The volume and quantity of bone in direct contact with the implant affect its initial stability. It is important for the stability to be maintained for new bone cells to form on the implant surface, allowing for successful osseointegration. There are numerous materials available to aid this process of bone regeneration, including substitute composite grafts and autogenous bone grafts.
Most dental implants are made from medical-grade titanium alloy, a material that is highly compatible with bone and biologically inactive. Patients concerned about possible allergies or those who wish to have metal-free restorations may have zirconium implants. However, the long-term success of these recently-introduced implants has yet to be studied thoroughly.
Clinicians must decide whether to plan a single-stage surgery or a two-stage approach. A single-stage surgery is only appropriate if there is adequate stability, allowing for immediate loading. Two-stage surgery is needed when stability is less than adequate, requiring the implant to be undisturbed for three to six months before loading. Once fully integrated, the load-bearing capacity of the implant must be greater than the predicted load to avoid implant failure. Other considerations include the size, number, and angle of dental implants according to the volume and quantity of bone available.
There are many different factors that need to be considered for this treatment. Meticulous planning will help ensure the long-term success that makes implant treatment so desirable for so many patients.
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