Over the years, there have been great improvements in the field of dentistry. However, there are still millions of people who suffer from tooth loss more often than not.
Dental implants refer to the root device that periodontists use to replace missing teeth. It is usually made of titanium and is placed into the jaw in order to hold a replacement bridge or tooth in place. The high tech dental implants offer a better method of saving the teeth than the traditional bridges because these do not rely upon other teeth for support. An implant is ideally suited for people who have good oral health, but have lost a tooth or even teeth because of an injury, periodontal disease or any other reason.
The dental implants that are being currently used are root-form endosseous implants, meaning these are similar to the actual root of a tooth. They are fixed to the jaw bone which accepts and osseointegrates with the titanium implant. Though these may fuse with the jaw bone, the feeling will be different at the time of chewing as they do not have the periodontal ligament that natural teeth have.
A variety of dental prostheses are supported using implants. These include crowns, bridges and dentures and are helpful for orthodontic tooth movement, providing anchorage. This is because dental implants permit unidirectional movement of tooth without any reciprocal action.
Typically, a dental implant consists of a titanium screw that resembles the root of a tooth with a smooth or roughened surface. They are mostly made using commercially pure titanium that is available in four grades based on the amount of iron and carbon present in them. The fifth grade of titanium that is gaining in popularity is titanium 6AL-4V. It consists of 6% aluminum and 4% vanadium. The implants made with this alloy offer not only better fracture resistance and tensile strength, but also osseointegration levels similar to that of commercially pure titanium. Plasma spraying, etching, anodizing, sand blasting, etc., are some of the processes that are used to modify the surfaces of an implant in order to provide more surface area and improve its osseointegration potential.
The two types of implants that are commonly used are the endosteal and subperiosteal implants. Endosteal or in-the-bone implants include screws, blades or cylinders that are placed into the jaw bone through a surgery. Each implant may hold one or more prosthetic teeth. Generally, this type of implants is used to replace bridges and removable dentures. Subperiosteal or on-the-bone implants are those that are placed on the jaw bone with posts of metal framework projecting through the gum and supporting the prosthesis. Subperiosteal implants are helpful to patients who have lesser bone height and cannot wear the traditional dentures.
The process of placing implants involves the periodontist and the dentist consulting with the patient and determining how and where the implants should be placed. Based on the type of implant selected and the patient’s specific condition, the periodontist will chart out a plan to place the implants.
Summarizing, a patient having good oral and general health and gum tissues that are free from periodontal disease is the ideal candidate for dental implants. The patient must also have adequate bone in the jaw to support the implant.