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Dental Implants – Myths and Facts

Although dental implants have been in use for decades there are many conflicting, and often baseless opinions regarding them. What is the reality? We discuss some common myths and facts related to dental implant treatment.

Dental implants therapy is risky – MYTH

Although an implant is placed deeply into the bone and stabilized by the gum, many patients express fears about it coming loose. The first modern implant was placed in 1965, over the past 50 years implant technologies have developed  sufficiently to enable a safe procedure with a highly predictable outcome. According to research, dental implant therapy is successful in approximately 98% of cases.  Accordingly, although no surgical procedure can be said to be entirely without risk for modern implants it approaches as close to zero as any medical procedure can. However, some conditions must be met if implants are to be deployed in a manner which reduces risk to these low levels. Facial and jaw anatomy differs in different people and the particular patient must be individually determined suitable for treatment. Principally this means that the adequacy of the  existing bone for an implant must be assessed. Additionally, the clinician will ensure that there are no contraindications to the procedure and fully explain the procedure and any risks which the particular patient may encounter. If, after the surgery, instructions of the dental implant specialist are followed for the care of the dental implants, by the patient the risk of failure is very low. There is one more important issue for a successful implant– the quality of the implant. Most recorded cases of implant failure involve poor quality implants which do not employ the latest designs that put into practice decades of research or poor patient care for the implant following the procedure.  Quality implants of a trusted brand, combining the latest proven technologies and rigorous quality control maximise the chances of a successful treatment and a permanent trouble free solution to tooth loss.
Dental implants can be cared for exactly the same as natural teeth – Fact but not quite the full story.
Dental implants are the most effective method of replacing missing teeth, but they do require maintenance. You care for dental implants as for own natural dentition: brush at least twice a day, use dental floss, attend regular check-ups and remove plaque at a dental office, together with stopping or reducing smoking. Although implant supported ceramic crowns are highly resistant to fracture, the dental implants are not completely indestructible. Inadequate oral hygiene can lead to peri-implantitis – the inflammation of tissues around dental implants. This manifests itself as edema (swelling), haemorrhage, or hyper-sensitivity of the gum surrounding implant. Untreated, peri-implantitis can eventually lead to loss of the implant. In sort, for the most common types of implant treatment the method of care is the same as with natural dentition. However, the patient must be aware of the increased importance of good oral hygiene and dental check-ups to catch any problems at an early stage.

Dental implants look fake and are clearly visible – MYTH

There is a common misconception that dental implants are easily noticeable. Dental implants are designed to closely replicate the natural anatomy of a patient's teeth. This is possible, among other factors to the use of high quality components. The dental implant is made of titanium and functions as a tooth root. In turn an implant supported ceramic crown or a bridge supported by two or more implants replaces the missing teeth. Professionally done a single crown through to a full arch bridge will look exactly like the natural dentition. Shape, size, and shade of the crown are selected in consultation with a patient in order to achieve an aesthetic effect that meets the patient's desired outcome. Experienced clinicians know that the best dental implant is the one that is completely unnoticeable in any social scenario.  Patients need not worry about artificial effects like a glaringly white "tombstone" teeth or an inappropriate match to their facial features. Each crown or bridge is designed specifically for the individual and  implants will look so natural that even intimate partners will not know  unless a patient chooses to  reveal the secret of their beautiful smile.

Dental implants are expensive – FACT

Dental implant treatment seems to be more expensive in comparison to dental bridges and dentures. However, as a permanent solution beyond regular check-ups and attention to oral hygiene there is no ongoing cost. Conventional bridges commonly last from 10 to 15 years, dentures may require replacement after 5 years. Considering this fact, repeated modifications and replacements of dentures or bridges may be more expensive than the permanent dental implants in the long run. Additionally, there is the cost to the anatomy of the patient of a missing tooth. Tooth loss can lead to bone loss and a consequent "sinking" of the facial profile.
We have to remember that a price of an implant varies depending on many factors like: the manufacturer that produces an implant, the laboratory that manufactures the prosthetic implant supported  restoration, the technology applied e. g. type of implant, crown material, and also the possibility of bone regeneration being required prior to implant placement. It also depends on appropriate preparation for the procedure – the design of the complete solution. Remember, it is worth paying the right price for a good quality implant because the price of the implant is much less than the cost of treating complications that can be caused by a poor quality product. Investing in proven technology and treatment protocols researched and guaranteed by those who are the best in the industry will ensure that the solution is a permanent solution to the tooth loss.

Dental implant treatment is not for everyone –FACT

Although dental implant therapy is an extremely effective solution and will suit the majority of people with good oral and general health it has some limitations and not everyone can be a candidate. A key prerequisite to placing an implant is having sufficient bone tissue and of a sufficient density. Contraindications for dental implant therapy are: unstable diabetes, cancer, poor oral health e.g. untreated cavities or periodontal disease, pregnancy, advanced osteoporosis, severe blood coagulation diseases, cardiac malformations or diseases compromising the immune system for example AIDS. If you considering this method of restoration, make an appointment for an initial consultation with a dental implant specialist who evaluates you and makes recommendations about possible treatment options.

Dental implants are like dentures – MYTH

Both implants and dentures can replace missing teeth, but in fact they are two completely different methods of treatment. The removable denture is a foreign body, that is not fixed permanently in the oral cavity, and can be taken off, so it requires adhesives, which must be in contact with the palate to secure the denture in the mouth. Dentures may cause discomfort in social situations, problems with eating, difficulties with speaking or even embarrassment caused by a slipping denture. The dental implant is kept stable through integration with the bone tissue, functions like a natural tooth and thus enables eating, smiling and easy speaking.  Where implants are used to support a full arch bridge, the solution may include a removable denture. However, it is a far superior solution to conventional denture. It leaves the palate unobstructed and clicks firmly into place. Implant retained dentures typically continue to be worn at night and are only removed very briefly each day for cleaning and some forms are worn permanently and removed only by a dentist during a check-up. Bridges for say 4 teeth supported on two implants are again worn permanently.

Dental implant therapy requires time –FACT

Implants are not for the impatient. Placement of the dental implant can be multistage process and time is essential, because it ensures stable integration of the implants into the bone. The full process of treatment takes on average from 3 to 6 months – this is the time for the healing of the soft tissues  and osseointegration: the formation of connection between the bone and the surface of an implant. It is important that the osseointegration is effective. Osseointegration must be a steady and gradual process to reduce the risk of complications and enable a successful outcome. During this period an implant is set with a provisional crown masking a missing tooth and the loads upon it are minimised. Only when tissues are healed properly, on the implant is a final crown mounted. At this point the full biting force of the jaw can be applied to the implant. Time of treatment may be prolonged due to the need for guided bone regeneration, performed in case of a patient lacking the requisite bone. In this situation a bone surgical reconstruction is performed to remodel the bone tissue. This process lasts about 5-6 months, and must be completed before the implant is placed.

Implant placement is painful – MYTH

Although, like every surgical intervention, it is an invasive procedure most implants can be placed under the sort of local anaesthetic that dentists routinely use and the process is relatively quick.  The clinician applies type of anaesthesia that is tailored to needs and preferences of a patient, and surgery is conducted in a comfortable and stress-free atmosphere. Depending on the number of dental implants placed the procedure is executed under local or regional anaesthesia possibly combined with a level of sedation. Very rarely is a general anaesthetic required. Sedation and adequate anaesthesia assist in producing a successful outcome as the surgery requires a high precision from the clinician which can be difficult when patient is anxious or suffers discomfort.  After the surgery, the patient can expect to function normally and no special recovery time is generally required. Antibiotics may be prescribed as a precaution depending upon the precise clinical situation.