Are you considering dental implants to replace missing teeth? Congratulations! This is an important step in preserving oral health as well as restoring your smile. The technique has been since the early 1980s with an excellent success rate. Yet some people are still uneasy with the idea of having an artificial tooth root placed into jawbone. Greensboro, NC dentist, Dr. Steven Hatcher, offers this information to help you feel comfortable with the decision to get dental implants.
Archeology shows that mankind has always valued the aesthetics and function of a full set of teeth. Many cultures, all over the world and through different eras, have explored the idea of dental implants to fill this need. A 1000 BC mummy of an Egyptian king has a copper peg in the jawbone. A grave in France dating to 300 BC revealed a replacement tooth made of iron hammered into the jaw. There is also evidence of teeth from humans and animals implanted into ancient skulls (a practice that was probably abandon due to high risk of infection and rejection), as well as sea shell and gemstone implants.
In the 1800s, doctors experimented with gold and other metals, but the rejection problem persisted. The immune system in the human body reacted badly to these foreign materials. In addition, early implants did not integrate into bone. They just “sat there,” thus not providing a stable base for a crown.
The real breakthrough came in 1952. An orthopedic surgeon repaired the femur of a rabbit with a titanium rod, in a study of bone regeneration. When he realized that osseointegration (bone fusing to the implant) had occurred, dentistry was changed forever. The first dental implant made of titanium was placed into a human volunteer in 1965. The next milestone was changing the implant design to a screw shape, with a textured surface that fostered superior osseointegration.
Since that time, dental implant materials and techniques have continued to evolve. Today, an estimated three million people in this country have implants, and the number is growing by about 500,000 each year. Small wonder, since the success rate is 98 percent with good oral hygiene.
For more than a decade, the team at Steven L. Hatcher, DDS has been helping patients throughout the Burlington, High Point, Kernersville, Salem, Winston, and Greensboro area enjoy the advantages of dental implant treatment.
Bone preservation is a big benefit, unique to this method. Other tooth replacement options such as a partial denture or a dental bridge solve some of the problems of missing teeth. They look nice, keep other teeth from going shifting, and restore some chewing function. However, these appliances sit on top of gum tissue.
Because a dental implant becomes fused into jawbone, it mimics the characteristics of a natural tooth root. The implant forms a solid foundation for a crown or other restoration, is easy to care for, and it keeps facial bone healthy. How? Each time you bite, your body senses a need for strong bone around the mouth, so it sends vital minerals and nutrients to the area. When even one tooth is missing, bone resorption begins quickly. Minerals are taken from the site of the missing tooth to supplement bone in other parts of the body. Bone thickness diminishes. With multiple missing teeth, the face develops a sunken look that thins the mouth, changes facial proportions, and results in sagging skin. A dental implant helps to maintain bone, just like a natural tooth.
While dental implants (topped with porcelain crowns) are most commonly used to treat individual missing teeth, there are other applications: