There is archeological evidence of attempts to use different materials or objects to replace missing teeth.. In the early 1950s an orthopedic surgeon doing research in Sweden noted that when he attempted to remove some chambers made of titanium from rabbit bone where it had been implanted, it would not come out. He discovered that the bone had intimately associated itself with the titanium effectively adhering to the metal. In the 1950s another researcher began implanting titanium screws into the bones of the jaw. This was done since the mouth was accessible for the surgery and there was no shortage of people with missing teeth.
Dental implants are performed for various indications, all of which center on situations of missing teeth. The implant fixture, usually made of titanium, is put in place. This is planned so that a process known as osseointegration will occur. This is the process of the bone virtually bonding to the titanium. This man-made device can be viewed as the foundation for the subsequent dental prosthetic. It can provide a base for a crown (a single tooth), a bridge (several teeth, removable or fixed), or a denture (a longer device that replaces the bottom or top arch of your mouth; usually removable.). In situations of missing teeth at several places then implants might be an ideal way to restore function and an improved cosmetic appearance
There are considerable advantages of dental implants compared with dentures. Some are:
- Mouth returned as close as possible to normal
- Implants are permanently fixed and will not loosen or require adjustment as dentures often do
- You don’t require special adhesives
- You clean implants by brushing and flossing, just like the rest of your teeth
- You can eat all foods
Advantages of implants over bridges include:
- Mouth restored as close to possible to normal
- Further tooth loss is infrequent
- Future bone loss is minimal
Advantages of bridges over implants include:
- Dental implants usually take more time to get in place
- Surgery is necessary to place dental implants
- The initial cost of implants is higher than that of a bridge
If you decide to move forward with replacing missing teeth, and there are many reasons why this is a good idea, then make an appointment with a dentist who does this sort of dentistry. It may be that your regular dentist will refer you to a specialist for the implant. There is some planning that must be done for every patient is a bit different. Not only will there be a full dental exam and some x-rays, there will be some evaluation of your general health. Not everyone is a good candidate for this surgical procedure. You may require other procedures such as bone grafting, sinus lift, or gum surgery to restore the soft tissue support of the implant.
Getting the best result, safely, and without complications, requires a thoughtful evaluation by the dentist and a thorough discussion of what you, the patient, should expect.