Dental Implants

Our smile, and the teeth, gums and lips that form the smile, is very important and a defect in any one of these can affect the quality of our life. Our teeth enable us to not only eat properly, but to laugh freely, speak clearly, and project confidence and self esteem. The loss of one or more teeth can affect this confidence and ability to function properly.

Missing teeth can be replaced by a removable appliance such as a full or partial denture, by a bridge or by an implant. If the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth (or teeth) are pristine and have no fillings, then the use of a bridge to replace the missing teeth may be inappropriate, since the process of "bridging" the gap would involve removing sound healthy tooth structure. A better solution would be to replace the missing tooth with an implant. An implant is a lifelong structure, a synthetic root upon which a crown is placed. Economically it is more cost effective than a bridge. A bridge will last 10 or more years, and then need replacement usually due to decay of the supporting teeth or secondarily due to fracturing of the porcelain part of the bridge. An implant can not decay and it lasts indefinitely, although the crown that sits on the implant may need replacement.

A dental implant is a small screw made of titanium or zirconium and actually replaces the missing tooth's root. It is placed or implanted in the jaw bone by a short dental procedure that involves the same dental anesthetic as given with a filling procedure.

The advantages of a dental implant are many. It is very natural looking and functions as a normal tooth. It can not be distinguished from a natural tooth in appearance or function. Dental implants can replace single or multiple teeth. They preserve the integrity of the adjacent teeth rather than having to remove tooth structure to create enough space to fit a bridge. As well, an implant will prevent the atrophy or shrinkage of bone at the sight of the missing tooth (teeth).

For successful implant treatment there must be good general health, good oral hygiene, and adequate bone quality and volume. If there is insufficient bone volume to place an implant there are, in most cases, various methods to build up the bone to prepare it for successful treatment with an implant.

Implants have been used for over 40 years and the technology continues to improve. The most recent advances in the root form implant which have been discussed above have a success rate of over 97%. Just like natural teeth, crowns on implants require regular check-ups and conscientious oral hygiene. Appropriate care, together with careful treatment planning, is an important requirement for long term success.


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