Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?
Dental patients today are overwhelmed with advertising about dental implants. With advanced technology, contradictory online information, and lack of dental education, it is difficult for patients to understand whether or not they are a good candidate for dental implants. A better understanding of the considerations made by dentists in developing an implant case treatment plan is needed to help patients make decisions regarding their own care.
Dental implants act as new tooth roots. They are made out of titanium and are placed into either of the jawbones to become bonded with the bone through a process known as osseointegration. Implant supported dentures can help to stabilize the remaining bone and to retain dentures that would otherwise be very difficult for the patient to wear. Contact us today to see if you are a candidate for dental implants at Richmond VA Dental Arts.
Dental Considerations for Implant Placement
A dentist will consider the patient’s health before suggesting dental implants. Most importantly, the dentist will ensure that the patient has healthy gums. Chronic gingivitis and periodontal disease can prevent dental implants from healing properly into the bone. The presence of bacterial infection in the bone can inhibit osseointegration, preventing the implant from becoming stable enough to support a crown, bridge, or implant-supported denture.
The dentist must determine if there is enough bone present in the jaw to retain the implant using x-ray technology. A panoramic radiograph is taken of the patient’s entire upper and lower jaws to locate any structures such as nerve canals, sinuses, impacted teeth, pockets of infection and possible bony tumors that might impede implant placement. Next, the dentist will order either a CT scan or intra-office CBCT (cone beam computed tomography) scan to measure the bone density of the jaw. If any defects are noted, the dentist may need to place a bone graft to replace the missing bone. Dentists then send the scan, impressions, or an intra-oral scan of the mouth to the dental laboratory for the fabrication of a surgical stent which will guide the physical placement of each implant.
Health History Considerations
Dentists also consider the patient’s overall health before recommending the placement of implants. Many health conditions could prevent the healing of dental implants after surgery or cause the loss of an implant. If a patient is under the age of 18, an implant will most likely be delayed until the patient’s jaw stops growing. Due to pregnancy preventing the use of certain forms of anesthesia and the use of many pain medications in dental surgeries, it is advised to wait until after birth to receive the implants. Heavy smoking inhibits healing in the mouth and can lead to the development of oral cancer. Implant patients are strongly urged to forego smoking during the entire implant process.
Patients who have received radiation for cancer treatment may also not be candidates for dental implants since radiation can cause degradation of the jawbone, making it less likely to heal and retain the implant. Surgery of any kind on a jawbone affected by radiation can lead to jaw fracture, infection, and serious pain. Conditions such as osteoporosis (poor bone density), diabetes, various forms of oral cancer and cancer treatments, hemophilia, and certain types of immune-compromising illnesses can prevent healing after surgery, osseointegration, retention of the dental implant, and comfort for the patient.
Dental Implants Concept
Dental implantology has become the standard of care for the replacement of missing teeth and the retention of dental prostheses in the 21st century. Restoring the dentition by the placement of a titanium implant into the jawbone has been made possible because of the increase in dental technology including soft tissue lasers, computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD-CAM) technology, digital radiographs (x-rays), cone beam radiography, guided tissue and bone regeneration, and dental microscopes. Come see how we use this technology to recreate your smile at Richmond VA Dental Arts.
Dental lasers have many advantages for both dentist and patient, allowing the operator to more quickly and accurately cut the soft tissue in the mouth while simultaneously preventing bleeding. Bleeding is prevented because the laser both cuts and cauterizes the tissue at the same time, making surgery painless for the patient. Typically, sutures are not required after a dental laser procedure since blood coagulation has been achieved through cauterization.
CAD-CAM technology allows for more accurate and inexpensive manufacturing of dental prostheses and some orthodontic appliances. The process involves scanning the teeth with an optical scanner that is designed to comfortably fit in the patient’s mouth. In some instances, a single crown can then be placed on the same day that the scan was taken. In the case of other prostheses, such as bridges, dentures, and veneers, the scan information is sent to a dental laboratory. The use of CAD-CAM technology makes for a more accurate prosthesis.
Digital Panoramic X-Ray
Advances in dental x-rays have become vital in the placement of dental implants. The digital panoramic x-ray allows a dentist to see the nerves, ligaments, roots, and all surfaces of the teeth in sharp detail. A dentist also uses them for diagnosing if there is enough bone to place an implant in a certain area, for diagnosing the effects of gum disease, and for any other abnormalities. The panoramic x-ray also allows the dentist to examine the patient’s sinuses to see if any additional surgery, such as a sinus lift, might be needed before an implant can be placed.
3-D Cone Beam Technology
While the panoramic x-ray gives two-dimensional views of a patient’s mouth, another technology, known as cone beam computed tomography (CBCT), allows the dentist to see in three dimensions, the thickness of bone, and the best location for placing an implant. It is also analyzed with software that aids the dentist to ensure that the implant will have its maximum retention.
Guided Dental Implant Technology
With guided dental implant technology, the dentist can often place an implant and its prosthesis in a single appointment. With all of the above related dental technologies, the dentist can use a computer to better place and restore the implant in the office. In the case of patients who do not have enough bone, the computer software will indicate to the dentist if a bone graft or guided bone regeneration are needed to hold the implant in place. If so, treatment may extend to more than one appointment.
Long used by endodontists performing root canals, a dental microscope can allow more detail of the gums and jawbone to be seen as a dentist places an implant. This prevents most complications and allows for a better-retained implant and prosthesis.
Come visit us at Richmond VA Dental Arts to see how dental implants can help you to improve your smile. We are also available by phone at 804-278-4141.