Implant Questions Answered by Dr Etue

Written by on April 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

Hello and Happy Spring

Hopefully, the end of winter was tolerable, and we all came out dry!! I thought the start of spring is a good time to focus on implants. I choose this topic because , spring is a new beginning and implants represent a new beginning for your mouth and your life.

I have been involved with dental implants and all the benefits they provide since 2003 and finished my first case in 2004. The one thing I have noticed about implants is- not one patient , ever regretted the decision nor the process of having dental implants, EVER!!! The long term success and quality of life they provide is impossible to put into words, but one thing is certain- patients love them!!

I am piggy-backing on a mentor of mine and a Dental pioneer in dental implants who lectured to me years ago and provided his students with this brilliant question and answer essay. Please enjoy and I hope you find it helpful.

Nolen L. Levine D.D.S

Every once in a while life gives us a second chance. For those who are missing teeth, implants are that second chance.

Today, in most cases, modern dental implants can replace the teeth you have lost. The major limiting factors are your bone and your bite.

If your bone is wide enough, and if it is high enough, you can have an implant. An implant must be placed in solid bone. “You can’t put a screw in a hollow door.”

If you do not have enough bone, bone grafts will be required. Most bone grafts are rather uncomplicated. Others are more involved.

Forces on implants should be along their long axis (parallel to their length). Implants and natural teeth last longer when your jaws and teeth are in harmony.

Here are the questions most asked by patients:
Q. How do I know if I am a good candidate for an implant?

A. Most people are good candidates for implants- if they have adequate bone and enough room. Only a consultation with a qualified dental surgeon, such as a peridontist or oral surgeon can answer this question.

Q. How successful are dental implants?

A. Implants are one of the most successful body part replacement procedures. They have a 90% success rate over 10 years, as opposed to hips (75%) and elbows and knees (50%).

Q. What if I don’t have enough bone?

A. Modern bone grafting techniques allow implant surgeons to place implants in jaws where previously there was an inadequate amount of bone.

Q. When is the best time to place implants?

A. The best time to place an implant is as soon as the tooth is lost, because that’s when the greatest amount of bone is available. If you wait, bone grafting can recreate the bone that has been lost, but it is best not to wait until that happens. When a tooth is lost, its supportive bone melts away, unless an implant is placed.

Q. Can implants stop bone from resorbing when a tooth is lost?

A. Yes, the process is called ridge augmentation, or alveolar atrophy, can be stopped by placement of an implant, due to the physiologic stimulation of the bone. Like natural teeth, implants require good oral hygiene to maintain the bone.

Q. Can you take a tooth out and immediately place an implant?

A. Sometimes immediate implants are possible, if there is enough bone. This is also frequently done in conjunction with bone grafts.

Q. How involved is the process of placing an implant? And do they hurt when they are put in?

A. There should be no pain when an implant is placed. Implant surgery is less invasive and there is less discomfort than with most other dental surgical procedures.

Q. What do I do during the time I am waiting to have my crown put in? Do I have space there?

A. During the transition period, temporary bridges or partial dentures are used to replace any missing teeth.

Q. Why do I need an implant? Won’t a bridge do the same job?

A. Placing a bridge requires “cutting down” the adjacent teeth. An implant actually replaces what you have lost without negatively affecting your teeth and increasing the load on fewer remaining teeth. The implant also has the advantage of being a non-removable replacement.

Q. Is a removable partial denture as efficient as implant supported teeth?

A. No. Removable partial dentures have only 20% of the efficiency of natural teeth or implant supported teeth.

Q. How long will I have to wait after surgery to get my crown or bridge?

A. After placement of the implant, it takes anywhere from 2 to 6 months for an implant to fuse with the bone. Your dentist can then place a restoration (crown or bridge) on the implant.

Q. How do I choose the right implant surgeon to place my implant?

A. Your dentist can give you the name of a well trained and qualified implant surgeon.

Q. Tell me more about implants. Are they new? Are they still experimental?

A. Implants are neither new nor experimental. The first dental implants were placed over 4000 years ago in China, and 2000 years ago gold posts were used in Egypt. Recently, a cast iron implant was discovered in the jaw of a Roman soldier dating back to 1900 years. Modern dental implants (titanium screws), first utilized in the 1940’s right after world war II, have been commonplace for over 30 years. The results have been outstanding.

Q. What happens if my implant fails?

A. If it fails, it is removed, bone is grafted into the site, and a new implant is placed in the exact same site.

Q. Does smoking affect dental implants?

A. Implants fail four times as often in the mouths of smokers as in the mouths of non-smokers.

Q. I wear dentures. Can I still have implants?

A. Yes, even if you’ve worn dentures for years. It’s just a question of how much bone you have available for implants, or how much bone, if any, needs to be regenerated through modern grafting procedures. Dentures can be stabilized with a few implants or replaced completely with multiple implants, supporting crowns, and bridges.

Q. Are younger people better candidates for implants?

A. No, there is no age limit. The only thing that matters is the health of the patients. While the jaws are still growing, young people should not have implants.

Q. Will implants last a lifetime?

A. In healthcare, there are no guarantees. There is a reasonable degree of certainty that the procedure will be successful. Implants have a 90% success rate over 10 years.

Q. I have a lot of allergies. Is there a chance that I will be allergic to the metal used for the implant and that my body will reject it?

A. Not likely. Implants are made of titanium. Titanium has been used successfully in joint replacements (hips, elbows, and knees) for over 50 years.

Q. How long will I have to be off work after surgery?

A. This is an individual decision. Depending on the extent of the surgery, most people can go to work the next day.

Q. Are implants expensive?

A. Implants are not expensive if replacing your teeth is important to you. They are your investment in you!

Q. Will insurance pay for implants?

A. Insurance policies vary. Some do; some don’t.

Dr. Nolan Levine is a fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists and a former Associate Professor of Periodontics at Northwestern University. He is a member of the faculty of the Misch Implant Institute. Dr. Levine lectured extensively on implant, plastic, and reconstructive periodontal surgery.

-Nolan L. Levine, D.D.S.

Please feel free to contact Dr Etue and Complete Dentistry if you have any questions or to schedule a visit that will change your life!

Until next month, Keep flossing Puget Sound
Dr Ryan Etue, DMD


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