Are dental implants right for you? The modern way to replace missing and badly damaged teeth
Modern dental implants were introduced in the mid-1960s; however, it took almost two decades for them to become more commonplace. Before the rise of dental implants, individuals who were missing or holding on to a badly damaged tooth (or teeth) had limited options to fill in those gaps. Options included dental bridges, which rely on neighboring teeth to hold the new tooth in place, or conventional removable partials and full dentures. The latter dentures rely on attachments that connect to remaining teeth, natural suction in the jaw, or products like denture adhesive.
Implants at Advance Dental Arts Center in West Linn, Oregon
Our dentists, Dr. Kim Wright, and Dr. Rodriguez, may recommend dental implants if a tooth is irreparably damaged due to fractures, tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease, or other forms of trauma. This type of replacement tooth does not rely on other teeth for its stability; likewise, implant-supported teeth do not rely on products to aid in holding them in place in the jaw. Instead, the implant is positioned precisely in the jaw. The implant is generally made from a cylindrical-shaped post from a biocompatible material such as titanium. This flexible, lightweight material is used for many medical implants, including hip and knee replacements. It is designed to join to surrounding tissues. Once the implant in the jaw has healed to effectively become a part of the jawbone (a process that usually takes about three to six months), it can effectively hold the overlying replacement tooth in place. In turn, implants are made to function like natural tooth roots.
A single implant may be used to replace one tooth with a crown. A few teeth may be replaced with an implant-supported bridge. Several teeth or a mouthful of teeth in the upper and lower jaws may be replaced with implant-retained partial or complete dentures. The dentures option is primarily secured with specialized bars or balls that snap the prosthetic teeth and gums on and off for easy removal and lasting durability and function. Notably, all of these implant-retained options preserve supporting bone. That is a critical advantage over earlier-generation alternatives because the bone in the jaw is responsible for everything from the structure and appearance of our face to our ability to break down and digest food efficiently and to speak correctly and clearly. Since this option not only replaces the part of the tooth that is seen above the gum line but also replaces the important stabilizing component in the jaw (the root), the bony tissue remains strong. Bone doesn’t wear away or resorb, as there is stimulation from the new, replacement teeth. The stimulation generated by behaviors such as tearing apart food with the teeth is transferred through the implants to the bone.
Our patients also appreciate that implant-supported teeth can be cared for like natural teeth, without the use of additional products, extensive maintenance, or ongoing relining and rebasing (as is the case with conventional dentures). Dr. Wright and Dr. Rodriguez also use sophisticated CBCT imaging when planning your treatment. This advanced imaging allows her to precisely position the implant in the jaw, which increases the odds of the implant healing properly and the long-term viability of your new tooth. She also places “mini-implants,” which are smaller in diameter than standard implants. They may be appropriate for some patients, such as those who have sustained bone loss and are not suitable candidates for standard techniques.
To find out more about your options for tooth replacement and the process of completing your smile, call us at (503) 694-4776. Our office in West Linn proudly serves the needs of individuals and their families from throughout greater Portland, including Lake Oswego, Oregon City, Gladstone, Milwaukee, and Wilsonville.