Dental Implants

When patients lose teeth, their ability to chew food and speak distinctly is reduced. Many people are uncomfortable with dentures, as they do not replace the quality of function of natural teeth. More dentists and patients are considering implants. Natural teeth can withstand biting pressure of up to 540 pounds per square inch. With dentures, after years of deterioration of the supporting tissues, many people can apply only 50 pounds per square inch. With a successful dental implant, people can absorb as much as 450 pounds per square inch. Dental implants are becoming the alternative of choice.

Who is a candidate for dental implants?

Statistics indicate that 42 percent of Americans older than 65 are totally edentulous and more than 40 million Americans older than 55 have lost some or all of their teeth. Thus, older patients are more likely to seek implant therapy. However, anybody who is dissatisfied with dentures, and who would like to eat or speak with less discomfort, may be a candidate for implants. Unlikely candidates for dental implants include patients who have had a recent heart attack, AIDS, hepatitis, chronic or severe alchoholism, prolonged corticosteroid use, blood dyscrasias, collagen diseases, uncontrolled diabetes, malignancies in treatment, drug dependency, recent history of chemotherapy, metabolic diseases such as osteoporosis, chronic tobacco usage, endocrine disorders, history of osteomyelitis, and personality or psychological disorders.

How long will implants last?

Most implants have a 10-year, 70 percent to 95 percent survival rate. The success of dental implants depends on many factors, including the patient's bone type and amount, the patient's medical condition, the bite relationship of the remaining teeth, cosmetic concerns, personal expectations, the training and experience of the implant dentist, the number and type of implants chosen by the implant dentist, and the quality of the patient's home care skills once the implants are in place.

What are dental implants?
Dental implants are substitutes for natural tooth roots. They rely on the bone for support. Implants give replacement teeth a more stable base and improve the use patients can get out of their dentures and bridgework. Implants are small (usually 4 mm in diameter and 8 to 15 mm in length) and long lasting. They are made of light titanium metal, and some are coated with a bone-like substance (called hydroxylapatite or HA) that many dentists believe can help the implant bond with
the bone and tissue. Dental implants are not new, as. ancient Incas and Egyptians were "implanting" carved jade, sapphire and ivory teeth thousands of years ago. Implants have been studied in dentistry for more than 40 years. Estimates indicate that the overall number of dental implants inserted in the United States increased fourfold from 1983 to 1987, and during that same period, the number of practitioners who perform implant therapy increased tenfold. Implant experts estimate that currently over 300,000 dental implants are used in the U.S.

How safe am dental implants?
Dental implants are considered safe and effective alternatives to dentures. The metals and coatings used for dental implants adapt very well to the bone, allow the bone to grow alongside the implant, and are well-tolerated by the body. The incidence of bone rejection or allergy to the implant are minimal-less than one-tenth of one percent.

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Send comments to:Dr. Jay Last Update February 16, 2006