Missing teeth are a surprisingly common problem for many people. Imagine having two bad knees and hobbling around with the use of canes or crutches. Missing teeth cause the same crippling to your smile, self-confidence, and ability to properly eat and digest your food. Dentures and partials can be the crutches to help you sometimes but have some significant drawbacks.
Dental implants are a versatile and incredible tooth replacement option. Implants are capable of replacing an individual tooth or all of your teeth with a multitude of options in between.
So what is a dental implant? A dental implant is simply a medical grade titanium screw with various surface coatings that can be placed into the jaw bone to replace the root of the missing tooth. The implant then will receive an abutment which is screwed onto the implant, and then a traditional cap or crown goes on the abutment for individual teeth. Abutment styles vary depending upon the restorative solution you have chosen to fulfill your needs. This is the closest you can get to the natural look, feel and function of a real tooth.
Why not dentures or partials to replace teeth? These are common replacements chosen by patients, but think about this for a moment… Is there anything about us that is the same as it was just 3-5 years ago? We do not look the same (especially if you have lost teeth!) our waistline is probably not the same among many other things. So when we think about our custom fit partials and dentures, do they really fit the same as when they were made, assuming they fit nicely to begin with? Studies have indeed shown that within 5 years, no partials and dentures do fit well or the same. But most patients tend to adapt and tolerate the declining fit with time. The best way to think about partials and dentures is that they are an up-gradable option to achieve your oral health goal over time. If you have partials or dentures, implants may be added to provide retention or support underneath and even eventually replace the entire prosthetic.
How are dental implants placed? We first assess the potential implant location for amount and quality of bone, and predetermine the approximate diameter and length of implant the site could receive. A small incision allows the gum tissue in the area to be moved for visual access to the site, and various implant drills will create the osteotomy or hole of appropriate depth and diameter for the chosen implant. The dental implant is then screwed into placed and a healing screw or a tissue former will be screwed on top of it and the gum tissue sutured closed. Radiographs are used throughout the surgery to verify implant angulation, and depth.
Visit Dr. Killian at either our Big Rapids or Mecosta office for a consultation to see if dental implants are right for you!