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Much is being said about dental implant procedures. A national radio spot states that steak and corn-on-the-cob are no longer just a memory for people with tooth loss. Tooth implants, they say, can bring back bite strength and, certainly, improve all-around dental function.
Just what are dental implants though?
Tooth replacement systems differ but continue to evolve as materials and methods allow. Teeth implants are a great and functional alternative to removable dentures.
An implant device is inserted into the upper or lower jawbone. After a healing period, posts are attached to each implant. And to that, a fixed bridge or "over-denture" is placed by the implant dentist. This is known as the "business end" of the implant. Only the "tooth part" is visible. The result is not new teeth. But for more and more people, tooth implants count plenty as the next best thing.
Why go for it?
Over 42% of people 65 and have a missing tooth or teeth. Dentures work fine in some cases, and not so well in others. In fact, ill-fitting dentures can contribute to the loss of supporting teeth or bone, and aggravate deterioration of your mouth.
Other tooth replacement alternatives?
Well, you could go toothless. But along with that comes a change in eating habits, quality of speech, and level of self-esteem.
"My mouth is me again."
In many dental practices, implant dentists have had great success with "osseointegrated" (osseo = bone) dental implants, a system where bone and implant mesh. As implant research has grown into dental implantology, many types of appliances have been tested (and some discarded). The Branemark implant, a titanium device developed in Sweden, has the longest track record, a 95% success rate over 20 years.
What makes a successful tooth implant?
In the Branemark system, it's the osseointegration, the meshing of implant and bone. The properties of the implant are such that a chemical and mechanical bond is formed. The jawbone actually grows into the implant. But the real benchmark for the success of a dental implant procedure is this: The patient has to be happy with it. For years.
For certain people, a single implant to bridge a gap is called for. Another person might require two to support a bridge, or two to four implants to stabilize a lower denture. In other people, bone loss is already severe, and what remains cannot support an overdenture, so a tooth implant procedure is not the solution. However, when they work, they're as real as it gets.
If you think you might benefit from teeth implants, call your implant dentist for a consultation.
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