Dental implants are the most advanced method of replacing missing teeth. They have existed in some form or fashion for thousands of years. However, the real breakthrough in dental implant science came in the 1970s, when a new titanium alloy named Tivolloy was developed that was bio-friendly, non-corrosive, and extremely light in weight. This new allow made it possible to manufacture artificial, root-like implants that screw into the jaw bone itself in a relatively pain-free procedure performed by a specialist trained in this discipline. The new artificial root provides an anchor for a custom-made porcelain crown that works and looks just like a natural tooth.
It is important for individuals who are missing one or more teeth to consider some form of tooth replacement. Ignoring the problem of missing teeth causes many unpleasant side effects to develop. For one thing, missing teeth means a less attractive smile, and increased difficulty eating a normal diet. Even worse, a gap in the teeth causes atrophy to the muscles of the cheek and the bones underneath the gum line. Given enough time, the face will droop and look prematurely aged, and the bone structure of the jaw will begin to deteriorate.
Tooth replacement of any kind with help restore the shape and structure of facial muscles. Crown and bridge treatments and dentures will fill in the gaps between teeth, and they will also provide adequate chewing surfaces for most meals. However, they can do nothing to prevent the deterioration of the jaw bone itself. To proactively maintain bone structure, and to provide optimum aesthetics and normal chewing functions, dental implants offer a much better alternative to either dentures or standard bridge work.
One advantage that dental implants offer over traditional crown and bridge treatment is complete preservation of healthy teeth. They fit between healthy teeth and connect only to the bone itself. Fixing a bridge, on the other hand, means grinding down healthy teeth around the gap and using their altered surfaces as anchors for the bridge. This creates more problems in the long run, because the damaged teeth are more vulnerable to decay and cracking. With implants, however, no damage is done to otherwise healthy teeth, and the result looks much more natural as well. Another very important benefit of dental implants is the reversal of bone deterioration. By transmitting the same vibrations that natural teeth transmit to the bone, implants stimulate it and precipitate new bone growth.
There are two major phases to dental implant treatment. The first is the surgical phase where the dentist screws the Tivolloy root into the bone itself. In some instances, the dentist may place a temporary crown over the implant while it heals. Healing normally takes about 3-6 month to complete, during which time the bone grows around and accepts the implant like it would a natural tooth root.
After the healing phase, an abutment is placed over the implant and capped with a porcelain crown. Some cosmetic dentists prefer to do either the implantation itself, or the crowning after the healing process (known as osseointegration) is complete. Dr. Charles Campbell commonly performs both phases of implant dentistry.
Almost any adult who is in moderate to good health may be a candidate for dental implants. Children and teens are not typically eligible due to incomplete bone growth. There are also a number of medical conditions and diseases that can decrease the success of dental implant treatment. Consult with a dentist if you have diabetes or suffer from alcoholism.
While it is unfortunate that many insurance plans only partially cover dental implants, if they cover them at all, there is good news for the patient in need of tooth replacement. The Cosmetic Dentistry Center at the Medical Center Dental Group offers a number of financing options and payment plans for those in need of treatment. Before assuming you cannot afford the procedure, please give us a call to see what is available and schedule an appointment to come in.
Cosmetic Dentistry is a specialized field that requires extensive knowledge and experience to be done correctly. The Medical Center Dental Group in Houston, Texas brings all of that and more to the direct benefit of each and every patient we treat. Although we are located in the world famous Houston Medical Center at Scurlock Towers, we routinely see dental patients who travel from Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Beaumont and Midland Texas to see Dr. Dale Brant, Dr. Charles Campbell or Dr. Elizabeth OSullivan-Winslow for their cosmetic denistry services.
For any other questions related to cosmetic dentistry, you can Contact Us at 713.795.5905, visit our Dental Blog or Ask the Dentist.