Dental Professionals Click Here!

Dental Implants

Evaluating Your Options for Replacing Missing Teeth

By Cynthia Bollinger and Dr. Kathelene Williams-Turk


It Ain't Necessarily So!

Bone resorption always occurs naturally when teeth are lost, unless measures are taken to prevent it. We are fortunate to live in an era when this melting away process can be compensated for by grafting techniques — which can work well in experienced hands. Although bone can now be restored by grafting techniques, it's preferable and easier to prevent its loss from occurring. Bone maintained in both sufficient volume and position will allow for proper implant positioning, which in turn will stabilize the bone and prevent further resorption. The desired end result — completely natural looking teeth.

Keys to Implant Success

In the hands of an experienced “team,” implants placed surgically in the right position not only allow for the fabrication of implant-crowns that look natural, but also function properly and are maintainable — indistinguishable from real teeth. In the wrong position or without proper forethought implants can create a nightmare for the restorative dentist and dental technician who make the crowns.

The key to implant success — can be summarized by answering two questions:

  • Can an implant be placed in correct position to allow for natural aesthetics and proper tooth function?
  • Is there enough bone and is it in the right place to allow tooth replacement with an implant?

Implant placement and positioning is dependant upon adequate bone volume and density, which are therefore critical to success. In experienced hands, implants are extremely successful. Documented research and clinical studies indicate success rates of over 95% — which is higher than any other tooth replacement option. Even in areas of low bone density success is quite common. Once integrated and functional, implant restorations can last a lifetime.

Success from Concept to Design

The concept and design of implants has been very well researched and tested. Implant tooth replacement systems often comprise separate and interconnecting units, which can allow the crown components to be removed and replaced if the need arises.

Once an implant is placed in the bone time must be allowed for the osseo-integration (bone fusion) process to take place, usually between two to four months. One of the primary reasons for early implant failure is “loading” them with biting forces too early. Only in carefully controlled circumstances where stability of the implant(s) can be assured, is it possible to place implant crowns early, with any degree of predictable success. The “Teeth In A Day” concept is somewhat misleading, because the crowns placed on the implants are functional, but most often temporary in nature. This is more commonly effective in the lower front jaw where the bone is denser and implants can be splinted (joined) to crowns atop the implants assuring their initial stability. It is a little less predictable in the upper jaw and for single tooth replacement, but still possible in the right hands and circumstances.