Dental implants can do wonders to improve the appearance of a person, and to improve self-confidence. An attractive, winning smile boosts a person’s self-esteem while at the same time improving one’s oral health. But getting implants, like any other medical procedure, is something a patient should research and fully understand before committing.
What is a Dental Implant?
Simply put, implants are medical devices, usually made of titanium, that are formed to resemble teeth, and replace diseased or damaged teeth in the mouth. Modern implants include not only the tooth, but a root that is inserted directly into the bone. This allows the implant to be securely anchored in the mouth in the same way that natural teeth are.
What is the Implant Process?
First of all, the medical professional performing the implant needs to know his or her patient. The physician needs to have a thorough understanding of the patient’s medical history so that all potential risks are understood. Conditions like diabetes, blood pressure and osteoporosis, if present, need to be factored in. Doctors need to understand not just the physical condition of the patient’s mouth, but also a strong psychological insight into the patient’s desires and expectations for the procedure. Physicians need to temper expectation with the realities of what is physically and financially possible. They need to also make sure the patient understands what is required of him or her, and how the plan will proceed.
This brings us to the key element of the implant process: the plan. Once the patient’s medical background is understood and factored into the implant process, if appropriate, shifts to the planning stage. This includes an evaluation of the implant site, and an analysis of the teeth adjacent to the implant site. Physicians may use a variety of instruments, including panoramic radiographs, which is an advanced form of dental x-ray machine. CAT scans may also be used to fully analyze the jaw and other structures around the implant area.
Only once a comprehensive examination and analysis of the implant area and related areas is complete can a restorative dentist proceed with the actual process. Those interested should know that several or more implants may take more than one office visit to complete. Much will depend on the physical situation in the surgical area.
What are the risks?
Most potential risks should be caught during the assessment and planning process. Still, unforeseen risks and outcomes can occur. There may be, for instance, manufacturing flaws in the implant itself. Also, the implant area may become infected, or possibly damaged by the procedure itself. Nerves can also be damaged. There is additional risk of sinus problems, which can be created if implants in the upper jaw protrude into the sinus cavities.
These potential risks are why the treatment planning process is so vital. Anyone interested in getting dental implants should be patient during the planning process, and provide their dental professional with all the information needed to make sure the process goes as planned.
Benefits of Implants
A well planned and well executed implant program brings a wealth of benefits to the patient. As mentioned, physical appearance and self-esteem are improved. Also, the patient will have a permanent solution to damaged or diseased teeth, and will not have to worry about dentures or other prosthetic devices. This facilitates not only convenience, but also enhances food and drink, and the social act of dining with others. All told, while the implant process is long and highly detailed, the benefits of successful procedures can be positively life changing.
Nicolas Elian, DDS, President and CEO of Vizstara. Renowned for his expertise in the evaluation and retreatment of implants, Dr. Elian’s clinical practice focuses on surgical procedures such as advanced bone grafting and ridge augmentations. He completed his DDS degree and post-graduate studies in prosthodontic and implant dentistry at NYUCD. Dr. Elian was head of the Division of Implant Dentistry and Program Director, and Director of Experimental Research at New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) for over 10 years Dr. Elian consults on product development for industry manufacturers and is and is an inventor and expert in both cell culture and tissue engineering. As a key opinion leader Dr. Elian is highly sought after as a skillful and motivating international speaker. He serves on the editorial boards of many peer-reviewed journals and has trained an extraordinary number of specialists and general dentists in the science and surgery of implants.
By Nicolas Elian, DDS