Of all the modern methods that dentistry has for replacing missing teeth, dental implants are, by far, the best. There is no other replacement option that provides a longer-lasting result.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a procedure performed with the goal of replacing a missing or absent tooth and, unlike other techniques, it is a fixed option and succeeds in replacing the root of a tooth, preserving the level of bone in the area in the long term and avoiding affecting adjacent teeth.
It is also a fairly aesthetic option for the patient, as it becomes an artificial tooth that looks the same and performs the same function as real teeth.
The dental implant consists of two parts: the first is a titanium screw that is placed in the alveolar bone through a dental implantology surgery, in which one must wait from 3 to 6 months for proper healing and integration with the bone. The second part consists of the placement of the crown or tooth that will be visible in the mouth; this crown is made of porcelain and is screwed to the implant inside the bone.
Dental implant surgery can offer a well-accepted alternative to dentures or removable prosthetics, which are difficult to adjust and achieve good adaptation by the patient. Similarly, they are a good alternative to fixed porcelain bridges, which need to wear down adjacent dental pieces to the space that we are going to replace, affecting the structure of more teeth.
Now, another way to help patients with implants is with the known implant prosthetics, hybrid bars, or overdentures, which help elderly patients who struggle with removable prosthetics.
Types of Restorations or Prosthetics on Implants:
Removable: It’s a slightly more stable alternative to total or partial removable prosthetics. In this type of prosthetics, 2 or 4 implants are placed and, through a locking system, the prosthetics are more stable than without the implants. It remains a removable prosthetic, but with better adaptation and the patient appreciates it.
Fixed: Within this category, the following types are found:
- Single Crowns: This is the most common restoration where a porcelain tooth is permanently screwed to the previously placed implant. The tooth is fixed and serves the function of another tooth in the mouth, dental floss can be passed on either side of the implant and it performs the same chewing functions as a natural tooth.
- Fixed Bridges on Implants: Another option for this type of fixed prosthetics is a bridge on implants, which is used when the patient is missing several teeth on one side. In these cases, usually, an implant is placed at each end of the space and the porcelain structure is joined with the missing teeth; usually, 3 to 4 teeth can be replaced, depending on the patient.
- Dental Prosthetics All on Four: It is used in patients who have lost all their teeth or need to be extracted in their entirety. The dental implant treatment indicates that 4 to 6 implants can be placed, depending on the case, to restore function to the patient. These treatments are known as All on 4 or All on 6, which consist of a prosthetic screwed to the implants that are fixed and have no material on the palate that would bother the patient. In the case of the lower denture, there is no discomfort of movement that is present in the removable prosthetics.
Is dental bone regeneration always required before dental implants?
Dental bone regeneration encompasses a set of surgical techniques that allow us to give the remaining dental bone the appropriate volume to place dental implants, that is, when the patient does not have enough bone to support the implant, additional bone must be added.
Sometimes, this type of regeneration is done at the same time as the implant placement, but it is most common to perform this surgery first, allow for a healing and healing time of about 3 to 6 months, and then place the implant.
In addition to recovering the bone, dental bone regeneration techniques are an essential element for optimal functional and aesthetic rehabilitation.
Among the most common bone regenerations is the so-called maxillary sinus elevation, which consists of a surgical technique that is performed when there is not a good amount of bone in the posterior superior sector of the mouth. The choice of technique will be made prior to the surgical procedure through a precise diagnostic study, based on the 3D radiological image called cone beam computed tomography, which allows for the real measurement of the sinus and bone in all its dimensions and the identification of its internal structure.
Dental implants can last a lifetime as long as you follow good hygiene habits and undergo periodic check-ups to check their status over time. They function like a natural teeth, which without proper care and hygiene can be lost, just like a natural tooth can.