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Dental Implant

By Racheal Gill

What is a dental implant?


A dental implant is a titanium post that is surgically placed into the jaw bone to replace a single tooth or multiple missing teeth. Dental refers to teeth and implant means to insert or to graph. Titanium is a metal that is compatible with oral tissue. Think of it as an artificial tooth root that is made out of metal; refer to Figure 1 for a side by side example. They come in many different sizes and shapes and have tiny grooves around the implant similar to a screw. I will discuss the history, benefits, risks of dental implants, and finding a dental professional.

History

Figure 1: Comparison of a natural tooth and root with an implant and crown.

In 1952 a Swedish orthopedic surgeon named Per-Ingvar Brnemark began studying the use of titanium metals in rabbit ears and found that their bone affectively grew around the titanium and adhered to the metal. He then began experimenting on both animal and human volunteers. He helped form one of the biggest dental implant companies today, Nobel Biocare and is the original founder of dental implants.

Benefits
Implants are a smart long-term solution when replacing natural tooth/teeth with a 90-95 percent success rate. An implant will need to have at least 3-6 months of healing before it can be restored with a tooth restoration. Not only is a dental implant going to provide a solid tooth structure, it will also maintain your jawbone level. If there is nothing in place stimulating the bone, such as a tooth root or implant, the bone will start to thin and shrink giving some people a sunken appearance.

Figure 2: Image of a dental implant in between two teeth.

Risks
There are risks associated with dental implants. Some of those risks include: the implant not bonding with your bone, nerve damage, broken jaw, fracture adjacent teeth, or infection. Although these risks are rare, it is important to understand and discuss all possibilities with your doctor.

Finding a Dental Professional


If you are in need of a dental implant you should do some research to find the best dentist (oral healthcare practitioner). There are many different specialties within the dental community and special training is required to place a dental implant. You can go to a general dentist, prosthodontist (specializes in restorative dentistry), periodontist (gum specialist), or an oral surgeon for treatment.

Conclusion
Dental implants have been around for over 50 years and our technology today is allowing for further advancements and techniques. Although a dental implant is a great replacement for a missing tooth, it is not the same as natural teeth. It is important to discuss all options and outcomes with your doctor before having any dental work.

Figure 3- Top left is an x-ray image of a dental implant, top right is a photo before tooth restoration is in place, and bottom is a photo of final tooth restoration on a dental implant.

Sources:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dental_implant dentistrytoday.com dentalimplantcostguide.com www.Surgeryencyclopedia.com/Ce-Fi/Dental-Implants.html artdentistrync.com